Friday, June 16, 2017

Stagecoach State Park, CO

We spent four nights at Stagecoach State Park, 16 miles south of Steamboat Springs, in the verdant Yampa Valley on Stagecoach Reservoir. This was our first time at a Colorado State Park, since we don’t like having to pay for a $7 daily entrance pass on top of the campground fees, but there are no good options near Steamboat. We stayed in the Junction City campground (the camping areas are named after early coal mines and mining camps), and although we couldn’t get a site right on the lake, we had a good view of it.


We had mail sent to Steamboat last week from our mail service in Pensacola, but the USPS tracking showed “status not available”. Jim called to verify that they gave us the correct tracking number, which they did, so we had no idea if our mail was lost or had ever left Pensacola. We drove to Steamboat on Monday to check and it was there, with a completely different tracking number. Glad we didn’t have to deal with a lost package, especially since it contained the new ZTE Mobley device Jim ordered.


We have been “leasing” our internet service from someone on Ebay, a 100GB Verizon plan, but we had a similar unlimited plan before that which got shut down, so we keep waiting for that to happen again. Since we are used to not worrying about how much data we use, we dread the day we might have to go back to a 20GB plan, so when we were in Flagstaff and friends were using this AT&T device, Jim decided to give it a try. Unfortunately we don’t have any useable signal here at the state park, but we’ve tried it in the car in town and it works great.

Here are scenes from some of the 8 miles of easy trails in the park.




Across the lake is the defunct ski resort of Stagecoach. It operated for 2 years in the early 70s before the developer went bankrupt.


The store at the marina has free wifi, so at least we could walk over there to check email.





While in Steamboat Springs I got blood drawn to see if the new thyroid medication is working, and we walked around the surprisingly big downtown and along the Yampa River trail, eating lunch at Rootz Organic Cafe.



There is a 72 degree sulphur springs right along the trail. Quite a pungent smell!



The river has been engineered in several places but we only saw one person out on the water.


We also drove a few miles out of town to Fish Creek Falls, where there are a couple of short trails, one that is paved to an overlook, and another dirt trail down to the base of the falls. It was lovely there, and a very impressive 165’ waterfall.

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From the overlook trail we could see workers carrying something heavy up the trail and wondered if someone got injured.  Jim zoomed in and discovered it was a big rock. Don’t know where they were taking it, as we didn’t see them when we walked down to the base of the falls.



Another day we drove up to Rabbit Ears Pass to check out the road and the camping options. The actual campgrounds are closed as there is still quite a bit of snow, but we saw a few RVs parked in various places. It was 45, cloudy and windy, so we skipped a hike and sat in the car where we got a Verizon signal and checked a few things on the internet. Glad we weren’t camped up there. And the road is good, a steep climb up to the pass, but no sharp curves.


One of the reasons we came to this area was to hike a trail called the Devils Causeway, about 15 miles southwest of Yampa, CO in the Flat Tops Wilderness. Poor planning on my part, since it’s only mid June, and still lots of snow at over 10,000’ where the trail begins. When I called the forest service office the ranger I spoke with laughed when I asked him if the trail was passable. He said the snow was still thigh high on the switchbacks, but we decided to check it out anyway, and we’re glad we did.

This is looking down into the valley on the drive up.


We stopped for lunch by this scenic lake.


It is a slow drive over about 10 miles of washboard dirt road. There are a couple of campgrounds, one that had lots of sites we would fit in, and quite a few dispersed sites with picnic tables that could fit a bigger RV, if you don’t mind the jarring the rig would take. Jim said he would not drive the Lazy Daze up there.

We finally arrived at the end of the road at Stillwater Reservoir and the trailhead. There were several cars so we were hopeful that we could actually do some hiking.



Since we’ve been without internet, and it was a while ago that I researched this trail, I didn’t remember that there are several trails that start here. There were no trail names, just numbers, and there was nobody around to ask so we started off on the one that went over the dam since there was no snow.

The scenery is amazing.





After about a half mile we came to a snow bank with footprints going off in every direction but no trail in sight, so we decided to go back to the trailhead and try a different route, which I think was the right trail to the causeway.




The aspen trees were just beginning to leaf out.



We encountered quite a few patches of snow but it was easy enough to walk on. There was a lot of mud, too.


After a mile or so we came to a deep fast-moving creek that neither of us were comfortable crossing. The logs to get across weren’t too bad, but they didn’t make it all the way to the other side, and we would have had to take a big step up on an overhanging, undercut ledge of snow. (Mark, we needed you and your long arms!). I was disappointed but knew going in there was very little chance we would complete the 3 miles to the causeway anyway. This can also be hiked as a 10 mile loop. I would love to come back and do this later in the summer to see all the wildflowers, which were just beginning to pop up.

We are now back in civilization with an internet connection. After five days Jim only went a little crazy, and it will probably take us another five days to get through all the emails and catch up on blogs.


  1. Beautiful mountain colors. Looks like your weather is near perfect. One would think there were already enough rocks at the top of the trail??

  2. Makes me wonder why they were carrying that big rock up the trail...You saw some beautiful scenery and one can imagine the crispness and freshness of the mountain air.

  3. Yea, those Colorado state parks are expensive, but that one looks gorgeous. Hard to imagine snow when we're sweating in 90 degree heat.

  4. Lovely photos:) The falls and lakes are so pretty. Sorry your trail was still thigh deep in snow. That's the problem with spring hiking in the mountains as we found out,too! I'd love to know where they were taking that boulder...strange!!

  5. Sorry to hear about the Causeway, darn it!! I wanted to live vicariously. But looks like you still got to enjoy lots of surrounding beauty.

  6. The mountains up around Steamboat sure look different than around Ouray...I think they are older, thus more rounded off (eroded). It does make for more gentle hiking tho, and longer vistas. Maybe you can find some biking to your liking :). And yes, you are early birds that far north as our Aspen trees leafed out a couple weeks ago. Wish I was there to give you a boost over the creek and snow going to Causeway. You guys will be acclimated to elevation pretty soon. You should come back here and well take you to a few places you haven't been to yet :)
    Long arm Mark

  7. We've never made it to Steamboat Springs, looks beautiful!

    Wanting to stay in state parks in CO we sucked it up and bought the annual pass and stayed ONLY in SP during our last trip to the was worth it, thye have some very nice parks!

    After 4.5 years on the road we finally have both Verizon and AT%T when we bought the Mobley a while having unlimited AT&T and BOTH carriers!

  8. Glad you were able to snag a Mobley. We got our a few months ago and we have been using it a lot. We just ordered a new Weboost booster so we can get even better signal.

  9. The Flat Tops have been on my list for a while now and I'm glad to see you made it there, even if a bit early in the year. Too bad about the washboard road to get in there. I would like to bring my RV and stay a while to explore as I understand that there are numerous trails.