Description - The Flat Tops Wilderness is located in northwest Colorado. It is divided into three administrative sections: the Blanco District, the Eagle District and the Yampa District. The Yampa District administers the northeast portion of the wilderness.
Copyright: Zander Higbie - Interactive Outdoors, Inc.
North Derby Trailhead, at Stillwater Reservoir
The 235,230 acre Flat Tops Wilderness is the third largest Wilderness Area in Colorado. It encompasses some 235,000 mountainous acres, that range in elevation from 7,500 feet to 12,354 feet. The Flat Tops comprise the northern extent of the White River Plateau; including the headwaters of the North and South Forks of the White River.
- Glaciation occurred approximately 13,000 to 17,400 years ago and left many of the glacial lakes and U-shaped valleys that characterize the region. In addition, volcanic activity once occurred in this region. Evidence of ancient eruptions can be seen in the cliffs around Trapper's Lake.
Sizable herds of deer and elk use this area as summer range. Other wildlife species include black bear, fox, coyote, bobcat, pine marten, mink, beaver, snowshoe hare, marmot and pika. On rare occasions, moose, bighorn sheep and mountain lions can be seen.
The Colorado River cutthroat trout, once abundant in the wilderness, are now reduced in numbers and distribution. Anglers are encouraged to use a catch and release approach with this sensitive species. Also found are brook trout, rainbow trout and brown trout.
Recreation - The Flat Tops Wilderness offers a variety of backcountry recreation opportunities. Some activities include hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, backcountry camping, fishing and hunting. Like all wilderness areas mechanized and motorized vehicles are not permitted within the Flat Tops boundaries. Please understand and use "No Trace" backcountry ethics when using this area for recreation purposes.
Climate - Elevations range from 8,700 to 12,347 feet. Weather in the high country can change rapidly. Temperatures below freezing and snowfall can occur any month of the year. Be prepared for all weather.
Afternoon thunderstorms often form in the summer. In case of lightning, move down from high ground. Avoid ridge tops and open meadows. Think ahead and get to safe areas before the storm hits.
The Flat Tops Wilderness lies in northwest Colorado, at the northern end of the White River Plateau. The wilderness is generally accessed from either Meeker, Yampa or Eagle.