3 FLAT TOPS TRAIL

Length: 82 Miles Driv­ing time: 2 Hours

West of 105 Magazine - - Outdoors -

This area is per­haps the most his­tor­i­cally im­por­tant of all the by­ways. It is cred­ited as be­ing one the places that in­spired the very con­cept of preser­va­tion in the Old West as well as be­ing the birth­place of the idea that pub­lic lands could, and should, be left as wilder­ness. This tra­di­tion of preser­va­tion makes for in­cred­i­bly pris­tine scenery.

Start­ing in Yampa, the drive heads west past Trap­pers

Lake (it was from the shores here that the For­est Ser­vice land­scape ar­chi­tect Arthur Carhart re­al­ized how beau­ti­ful the area was and pushed for its preser­va­tion) and on to Bu­ford be­fore fin­ish­ing in the town of Meeker. It is here that the re­gion's his­tory takes a tragic turn.

The Meeker Mas­sacre was a con­flict be­tween Ute In­di­ans and ul­ti­mately the US gov­ern­ment that led to the forced re­moval of the White River Utes and the Un­com­pah­gre Utes from Colorado. The White River Mu­seum at the western end of the by­way in the town of Meeker tells the full story.

Be sure to pay at­ten­tion to road clo­sures be­tween mile marker 31 and Dunck­ley Pass to­wards mid-Novem­ber when the road tends to close ev­ery year for win­ter sports us­age.

Photo: (this page, clock­wise from above left) Matthew In­den / Miles; Toni N Fran­cis; Ron Wil­ley

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