Flat Tops Wilderness Area: A Profile

Comprising more than 235,000 acres of wilderness, the Flat Tops is the second largest wilderness area in Colorado. It is located in the Routt and White River National Forests, in the northwestern part of the state. The United States Congress designated the wilderness area in 1975. However, it was Arthur Carhart who first proposed wilderness preservation after his visit there in 1919.

The Flat Tops Wilderness contains more than 100 lakes and well over 100 miles of streams, making it a backcountry fishing paradise. Native cutthroat trout patrol forgotten lakes, many of them unnamed.   The fish so rarely see an artificial fly or lure that on a good day, it’s a rare cast that doesn’t receive a strike.

Reflecting onto the surface of these pristine waters are the wildflower laden hills, the ceiling of the white river plateau. The edge of the wilderness is guarded by steep breaks in the basalt lava flows, forming a barrier of formidable cliffs. Beyond these guardians however, the wilderness interior rolls along in perfect subalpine meadows, tundra and forests, dotted with lakes and cut by streams.

The area is home to a large variety of wildlife. Elk, mule deer, mountain lion, black bear, moose and bighorn sheep can all be found here. The elk hunting is some of the best in North America. Those willing to put in long rides on horseback and miles under foot will be rewarded. The sheer size of the Flat Tops Wilderness is intimidating but that’s exactly what makes it special.

“Get a good draft working in your nostrils, smell the hot sun on the pine needles, the tangy odor of the sage, the scent of the fire weed in full bloom…hear the call of the jay, the splash of the jumping trout, the roar of a water fall. Brush the dust of habit away from your eyes and see the lacery of the pine needles, the vivid coloring of the cliff or wild flower, the majesty of the peaks. In other words, take stock of the world in which you live…”

-Arthur H. Carhart

Winterhawk Outfitters offers summer horseback trips, wilderness fly-fishing and big game hunting adventures in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area. Come see what it’s all about and experience Colorado’s high country! Please contact us for information.


About Ryan McSparran

Ryan McSparran is an outdoor marketing professional, a hunting and fly fishing guide, and very proud to be a part of the Winterhawk Outfitters team.
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