The Flat Tops Wilderness
Winterhawk operates in Colorado’s White River National Forest and the Flat Tops Wilderness. The White River National Forest is two million acres in central Colorado west of the Continental Divide. It is one of the largest and oldest National Forests in the Rocky Mountains. Our U.S. Forest Service permits consist of over 250 square miles of prime National Forest and Wilderness Land, which is one of the largest outfitter permitted areas in Colorado.
The Flat Tops Wilderness lies within the White River National Forest and is one of the largest primitive areas in the Rocky Mountains. It contains some of North Americas most spectacular mountain scenery and it’s remarkable for many reasons. Only the Columbia Plateau of the Pacific Northwest is similar. There are no tall spires in the Flat Tops. Rather it is a massive block of rock pushed upward and planed level, its surface punctuated here and there with peaks rising a thousand feet above the high plateau. No motorized vehicles of any kind are allowed which allows hunters, fishermen and horseback visitors the opportunity to experience Colorado high country as it was in the early 1900’s…before ATV’s and pick-up trucks.
Approximately 110 trout-laden lakes and ponds in addition to nearly 100 miles of trout streams crisscross the wilderness and the fishing, due in large part to its remoteness and non-motorized travel requirement is spectacular.
Wildlife is abundant and big game animals in the area include elk, mule deer, black bear, big horn sheep, mountain lion, and an occasional moose. The Flat Tops are well known as some of the very best elk and deer country anywhere. Colorado has more elk than any other U.S. state or Canadian province. The elk herd we hunt is estimated at 54,000 animals. And while its best known for elk, it produces quality mule deer bucks as well. In response to a question about Colorado whitetail hunting, the Colorado Division of Wildlife responded: “Colorado isn't known as a white-tailed hot spot because it’s overshadowed by the finest mule deer hunting in the world. Garfield and Mesa counties lead the listings of record book mule deer taken, and Eagle and Grand counties are also well represented.” Winterhawk’s hunting areas are in Garfield and Eagle counties. We hunt game management areas 25 and 26.
In 1985, the Colorado Division of Wildlife established a four-point restriction on elk in the Flat Tops Wilderness and parts of the White River National Forest. This has greatly increased the bull to cow ratio and it’s now estimated at 22 bulls per 100 cows. The regulations have dramatically improved the quality of our bulls. The number of mature branch antlered bulls increases each season and our hunting just keeps getting better year after year.
Want to learn more about the Flat Tops or White River National Forest? Visit some of the links below!