We couldn’t go west on US 34, so we went up County Road 27 towards Colorado 14. At first it just seemed like an outlying part of Loveland, Colorado where people could have homes with large acreage. But soon the road became steeper, narrower, and more beautiful. We went up a canyon where a river came down over impossible rapids – but kayakers made it through before we could get their picture. And then we were in the Roosevelt National Forest with lovely (but unopened) campgrounds and picnic areas.
Colorado 14 was built in 1882 to serve miners and loggers. Later, tourists found their way there from Fort Collins. But it wasn’t until a controversial proposal to build an Olympic ski resort (defeated) called attention to it that it was finally paved in the 1970s. We stopped just short of Cameron Pass, 10276 feet high, to have our picnic lunch. It seemed like the passing clouds were going to drag on the peaks, and a thundercloud seemed menacing but only dropped a light rain.
Winding our way down the mountain, we came into a huge bowl seemingly surrounded by mountain ranges. The Ute Indians called it the “Bull Pen.” Before 1820, they hunted buffalo there along with the Arapahos.
Drained by the Michigan, Illinois and North Platte Rivers, it is now known as North Park. A 28,000 acre wildlife refuge takes up just part of it. The rivers flow north for awhile before turning east to ultimately reach the Missouri.
We thought it would be a wonderful place to live and farm or ranch until we learned the growing season is just forty-four days.