Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Cold Springs Campground in Colorado's Flat Tops Wilderness

          We’re camped in the middle of an impressionist painting: mountain vistas fill the canvas, wildflowers jump from the meadows; a stream cascades down the hillside into a trout-filled pond.  The setting here is so magnificent and the scenery so grand that it hardly seems real.  But it is. 
Site #3 in Cold Springs Campground.
  Cold Springs Campground is located at the end of a long dirt road on the edge of the Flat Tops Wilderness in Colorado’s Routt National Forest; it might be the most gorgeous campground in the Rocky Mountain West.
The Bagel Thief - a Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel.
  This evening we start a campfire before dark.  Tim fishes the small pond by our site while I try to protect our food from golden-mantled ground squirrels.
   In the morning we have bagels for breakfast and discover small bites taken from one of the bagels.  Despite my best efforts at defense those persistant little ground squirrels must have found their way into our food bag yesterday.
Along the Trail in the Flat Tops Wilderness.
  Today’s destination is Devil’s Causeway within the Flat Tops Wilderness, Colorado’s second largest wilderness area.  The Flat Tops offers alpine tundra and over 110 fish-filled lakes and ponds.  Along the trail to Devil’s Causeway we pass hundreds of downed trees - trees that had died during a bark beetle infestation in the 1940’s and have been falling and littering the forest floor ever since.  
  The trail breaks through the forest and climbs a long uphill stretch to an area above treeline.  We reach the causeway—a jumble of rocks 100 feet long and 3-4 feet wide crossing a deep bowl.  This is not the place for anyone with a fear of heights; the drop-offs on either side of the causeway are 800 and 1200 feet.  
  Tim crosses the causeway with no problem while I stay on one side and document his crossing with my camera.
  The sky fills with billowing thunderheads as we hike back to the campground.  Our last half mile is spent jogging through a downpour, thunder crashing and lightening flashing around us.  We’re wet and we’re cold; after waiting out the storm in the car it’s time to pack our things and roll up the soggy tent.  
  We vow to return someday to this magical place.  Shangri-La really does exist—it’s here in the mountains of northwest Colorado.
To learn more about the Flat Tops Wilderness area in Colorado’s Routt National Forest, visit these websites:


  1. Hi, Rita! This sounds like a marvelous place, truly. (And I like picturing the squirrel munching on your bagel.)

  2. Stunning photographs, Rita! Glad your camera made it through the downpour. (Always love a good chipmunk photo...then, I realized from reading your post that that's a squirrel!)