OTodaTodToday, Old Flowers Road is simply another forest access road, and alternate (offroad) route from Stove Prairie & Rist Canyon to Pingree Park. Old Flowers Road actually consists of two parts, East Old Flowers, between Stove Prairie and Pingree Park, and West Old Flowers, from Pingree to the the trailhead for Flowers Trail, a hiking trail.
Pingree Park Road, or County Road 63E, is a well-maintained gravel road which travels due south from Highway 14 to the northern flank of the Mummy Range. The valley in which the road follows was originally explored by the Arapaho, Mountain Ute, and Cheyenne Native Americans. Development in the valley took place in the mid-1860s, when George Pingree traveled up the South Fork of the Poudre River in search of trees to log for railroad ties for the transcontinental railroad. In 1868, Pingree established a tie camp in the valley now known as Pingree Park. The ties were floated down the Poudre River to Laporte, where they were then taken via wagon to Tie Siding, Wyoming. In the fall of 1870, the demand for railroad ties had been filled and Pingree’s camp closed. Today, the valley offers an abundance of recreational activities, and is the site of Colorado State University’s Mountain Campus.
Deadman fire lookout tower is one of the few remaining fire towers in Colorado. It sits approximately 15 miles west of Red Feather Lakes along Deadman Road (County Road 86) at an elevation of 10,700ft. The original tower was a wooden structure constructed in 1939 by the Civilian Conservation Corps based in Red Feather Lakes. It was replaced with a modern steel tower in 1961. The site of the original wooden tower is still evident, with its concrete anchors located just north of the current tower. The current tower stands at 55ft tall, the original tower was 40ft tall.
Spontaneity and novelty are the spice of life. It’s what keeps life interesting. My adventure to this observatory happened as a spontaneous decision, partly out of boredom, but mostly out of the desire to explore. It was a normal, run-of-the-mill camping trip. We spent the night camping near Red Feather Lakes, and the next day we took a cruise along Deadman Road to the Laramie River Valley.
The descent into the Laramie River Valley is much like the descent from Kenosha Pass into South Park, but wilder, and somehow mightier. Part of the difference comes from the remoteness of the Larimer River Valley as opposed to South Park. There are only unpaved county roads streaking cross the valley, and limited inhabitants. Larimer County Road 103 is a 35 mile road which traverses the valley, beginning at State Highway 14 along the Poudre Canyon and continuing to the Wyoming border, where it turns into Wyoming route 10. Continuing north, you eventually arrive at the community of Woods Landing/Jelm, WY, a cozy little settlement nestled along the Laramie River a mere 10 miles north of the Colorado-Wyoming border.
It’s hard to describe what kind of experience the White Rim was. If you’ve ever been to Moab, or any part of the Desert Southwest, you might think you understand: red rocks, towering sandstone monoliths rising above you, canyons… But you don’t quite know the desert southwest until you’ve spent time on the White Rim (and I mean meaningful time, not just passing through to Potash Canyon or popping in to see Musselman Arch).
The start of White Rim trail, traveling clockwise, has you not far from the Island in the Sky visitor center. Across the road from the visitor center is an overlook, that gives you the first glimpse of the White Rim trail, meandering its way into the distance. On a clear day, the La Sal mountains make for an impressive backdrop, paired with the thousand-foot drop off from the top of the Island in the Sky mesa to the White Rim sandstone layer, the geologic layer that the road runs on its entire route until the very western end. The White Rim Road is a 71.2 mile road that was built in the 1950s by the Atomic Energy Commission, as a uranium prospecting road. It follows roughly along the base of the Island in the Sky mesa.
The White Rim Road, despite being fully within Canyonlands National Park, is lightly trafficked. No more than 50 vehicle permits are issued daily (which, most of the time, are all issued by 8am), and there are a limited amount of campsites which are often booked as early as four months in advance. Backcountry camping and wood-based fires are prohibited on the White Rim, so you must use a designated campsite. There is very little to burn on the White Rim, so most of the time having a camp fire isn’t even an option.