The trip to Craig from Silt was an enjoyable journey up Colorado 13. This route travels through West-Central Colorado providing great mountain views and a look at the working landscape of the state. Ranches, farms, oil and gas fields, coal mines and one very large coal fired generating station, working Colorado. Craig is a city of approximately 9500 folks who share the western ranching culture of round ups and hunting with the extraction industry of coal, oil, and the occasional gold nugget.
Forty miles east of Craig is Steamboat Springs home of all sorts of winter sports. Ski runs are everywhere and include the only ski jump facility of its type in the US. Hot springs for year around fun and rafting, hiking, for the summer. Twenty miles to the west is the Sand Wash Basin Horse Management Area with the 8120 foot Outlook Mountain. Beautiful wild horses in abundance on some 155000 acres. Very interesting country with down to earth friendly people.
Our visit to Steamboat was great. The city was in all its springtime glory with the downtown streets adorned with blooming white dogwood trees and flowers everywhere. Much nicer than Aspen, I think. The ski runs and Yampas River provide the backdrop for a community with an international flavor. Peg and I were there to see Fish Creek Falls.
The falls are on Forest Service land and has interconnecting trails to several other places in the region. While we were there, Forest Service employees and volunteers were doing Spring maintenance, removing dangerous trees and maintaining the trails. I made sure to thank them for their work. The falls are excellent. The creek is running full with snow melt which makes the falls splendid!
We had a good day in Steamboat and I would recommend it for any season, for any reason.
Peg had a real desire to see wild horses. Some of our Weavers Needle friends have been here and suggested a visit to Sand Wash Basin. Peg said we would be on remote gravel roads, so I was all for it. Doing the wise thing for change we filled up the Bronze Brute in Craig on the way west to Sand Wash, this turned out to be a very wise thing as there is nothing, absolutely nothing out there except open land, horses, and two other travelers (one was the “Plant Lady”???) the other looked lost.
The horses are really neat. My expectations were to see some starving old nags hanging around begging from passers by (see our Custer State Park buffaloe and burro pictures from a couple of years ago). But no! Big beautiful healthy horses in the open range. There are approximatley 450 currently in the carefully managed herd.
The best thing was Outlook Mountain! When I saw the road off in the distance, I knew that was the road to take! Yes indeed, about 2000 feet up a dirt road. Wow!
I could tell Peg had reservations but Scout was all for it. We followed the gravel road to where the road sign pointed to Outlook Mountain just a few miles up the dirt road. I put the Bronze Brute into four wheel drive and took off. What a trip. Loose dirt and sand road with some damn near vertical sections, some hair pin curves that I am sure left one dually wheel hanging over the edge and a superb view from 8120 feet. Took some interesting pictures of leichen (sp) and the surrounding views. Also, found a triangulation marker from 1937. You may note that Peg stayed in the truck, she was frozen in thought and trying to absorb the recent trip up the mountain. At least she got to see wild horses. It was a great day and good fun.
The Craig KOA is ok. New owners who have only been here for two weeks or so recently from Eau Claire, Wisconsin. These folks are working very hard on restoring the park and adding new features. Great service and Peg and I wish them much success. We have enjoyed very good cable television as trees blocked satellite tv, and reasonable WiFi. From here you can see the coal mine off in the distance. The mine has taken quite a lot off the top of the mountains and reportably there is between 25 and 30 years of coal mining left up there. However; the coal fired power plant that uses the coal will start closing down in 2022 and be out of service in 2025. The power plant has great distribution access, including to the SRP in Pheonix, so perhaps solar or wind can be installed on the site.
Should be obvious that we are enjoying our Colorado journey and look forward to coming back one day. Monday we head to Flaming Gorge, Utah on our way to Pia’s in Wyoming. Links to pictures are below.
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Sand Wash HMA