2016 Summer Journal

Scenery and Solitude in Winter Park

Living in Boulder, perched smack in the middle of Colorado’s Front Range, we grew well accustomed to heavily trafficked trails that were often choked with people. It didn’t take us long to write Colorado’s backcountry off as beautiful, but crowded. In an effort to escape the hustle and bustle we took a trip to the Fraser Valley, and discovered a town and surrounding backcountry that reminds us more of the wild expanses of Montana than the buffed and sterile Open Space parks around Boulder.

Fraser has now become one of our favorite spots in Colorado – in 2013, we spent the winter there (and did some fantastic backcountry skiing!) and last September we stopped in for a few days to run a 50k. This year we visited right at the beginning of spring, and took extra time to explore the surrounding backcountry. Each night we chose a new site to park the bus and each morning we woke up to new scenic vistas and incredible solitude. No matter where we parked, we always found ourselves within a stone’s throw of a trailhead that would give us access to the endless miles of singletrack.

Our approach out on St. Louis Creek Road with Byer's Peak in the distance.

Heading down St. Louis Creek Road, with Byer’s Peak in the distance.

One standout campsite for us was a Forest Service road off of St. Louis Creek Road outside of Fraser. Our parking spot awarded us breathtaking views of Byer’s Peak, one of Fraser’s most prominent summits, and immediate access to the Flume Trail which turned out to be one of our favorite trails to run in the evenings.

On our first visit, Alyssa and I ran down the trail and were so blown away by the sunset that we decided to break our “move the bus every night” rule so we could return with the camera and take some photos. That evening we geared up for another run, grabbed the camera, and headed out the door with Hilde. Our timing couldn’t have been better – the sun began to hit the horizon right as we got on the trail and we had fun taking advantage of the light on our way to one particular vista that we had in mind for watching the sun’s grand finale for the evening.

Alyssa and Hilde heading out through a meadow chasing the last of the sunlight.

Alyssa and Hilde heading out through a meadow chasing the last of the sunlight.

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This may look like a nice controlled run, but in reality Hilde is pulling me down the trail at break-neck speed.

The evening we chose turned out to be even more amazing than the first night and we found ourselves out on a much longer excursion that we had planned, as we enjoyed the views while the sun went down.

Alyssa and Hilde with Byer's Peak in the background.

Alyssa and Hilde with Byer’s Peak in the background.

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Alyssa and Hilde scanning the river for moose. We did see several out in the area, but not this evening.

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Once the sun started to go, the colors really began to pop!

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One last look at the peak before heading back towards the bus for the evening.

The more time we spend in the Fraser Valley, the more we love it. In fact, we almost didn’t write this post because we’re worried our secret spot will blow up! If you’re looking for an amazing mountain town with excellent camping, good food, and great trail access, Winter Park / Fraser is the place to be.

Before we go… Curious why Hilde is on a leash in all of these photos? We usually let her roam free, but not in Winter Park in the springtime! We saw no less than 5 moose in 3 days, one of which made it very clear to Alyssa and Hilde that they were NOT welcome in her space. Moose can be incredibly vicious to dogs and people, so we decided to keep Hilde on her leash for everyone’s safety. You do not want to mess with a mama moose!

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  • Beautiful photos! Nothing better than great light and beautiful scenery.

    • Thanks Andrea! Are you guys planning on coming east any time soon? We just got back to West Yellowstone and would love to see you guys!

      • Unfortunately not in the near future. We went to Glacier for a quick trip last month and are actually heading up to Alaska at the end of this month. The Yellowstone area has been on our list for a long time, perhaps we’ll have to schedule a visit this fall. How long are you guys sticking around?

  • These photos are stunning!

  • So much joy on that Hilde’s face for that run! I love it. And I have passed through Winter Park and the Fraser area so many times getting to my family cabin, but I’ve never gotten out to explore. This post has definitely convinced me to do so on my next trip to the mountains. And that last picture of you town taking in the mountains is absolutely fantastic <3

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