Alternative activities abound

Hunting trips can turn long after days without a kill. The days can be even longer waiting for spouses and children who have come along for a family adventure, but don't feel the call of the hunt.

In Moffat County, nearly 2 million acres of public land offer opportunities for hunters and non-hunters alike. For those who would rather "hunt" with their cameras, Sand Wash Basin is home to the largest wild horse herd in Colorado. Viewing opportunities are abundant, and for those with a bigger budget, multiple-day horseback riding tours and wild-horse photo safaris can be arranged.

The Craig Chamber of Commerce also recommends visits to area sites such as Elkhead Reservoir, Irish Canyon, Dinosaur National Monument, Cedar Mountain and Black Mountain.

Call the Craig Chamber of Commerce at 824-5689 or visit www.craigchamber.com for more information about wildlife and recreation opportunities.

For days when the weather is bad in Moffat County, hunters and their spouses might want to head indoors. One good option is a visit to the Museum of Northwest Colorado, 590 Yampa Ave., in Craig. Visitors to the museum will get to see the Cowboy and Gunfighter Collection, an old schoolhouse exhibit, a railroad exhibit and an exhibit about grain threshing in the 1920s. The museum also is home and the largest stretched canvas oil painting in Northwest Colorado, painted by Frances Reusth of Craig in 1895.

Admission to the museum is free, and the museum also has a bookstore and gift shop.

"The museum is a big draw for people," said Jan Gerber, assistant director of the Museum of Northwest Colorado. "We get lots of comments about how clean it is and how well the items are displayed. It's a great place to visit."

For those looking to learn more about the flora and fauna of Northwest Colorado, Yampatika, a nonprofit environmental education organization in Steamboat Springs, is one of the first places to turn for guided hikes and nature tours.

Yampatika is located in the U.S. Forest Service building on Weiss Drive in Steamboat. The organization provides several programs each month, combined with a regular schedule of daily children's programs and interpretive hikes.

Most programs cost $10 to $50, often including lunch. All are family-oriented.

On Sept. 9, the executive director of the Tread of the Pioneers Museum will lead a hike to the Windy Ridge Archeological Site. The hike begins at 8 a.m. and ends at about 3 p.m. The cost is $12 a person. Hikers will meet at Yampatika. The Windy Ridge Archeological Site dates back at least 8,000 years. Beyond the history offered by the hike, the site has views of the Front Range and Rabbit Ears Pass. Hikers must be 12 or older. The hike also will be offered Sept. 24.

On Sept. 10, Angie KenCairn will lead an educational hike on the historic trails of North Routt County. The hike begins at 8:30 a.m. and ends at about 3 p.m. and costs $15 a person. Hikers will learn about the history and lives of people in the Hahn's Peak area.

On Sept. 20, anyone interested in floral arranging can attend a workshop about "Arranging with Nature," led by Cathy Vogelaar, owner of Steamboat Floral and Gifts.

Participants will meet at Steamboat Floral and Gifts at 5:30 p.m. The first part of the workshop, which costs $12, will be spent in the field, collecting plants and other items. The second part of the workshop will take place at the store, where the group will build arrangements from what they found. Participants should bring their favorite containers or be prepared to purchase one.

On Sept. 23, Yampatika will host its "Celebrate Autumn" night hike from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Humble Ranch, south of downtown Steamboat Springs on Routt County Road 14 (also known as River Road). The hike is $30 a person. Hikers will meet at the Humble Ranch for appetizers and drinks. They will hike along the Yampa River, enjoy the stars and return afterward for dinner and dessert. The hike is limited to 18 people.

On Oct. 15, a "Bird Seed Taste Test" will teach people techniques to attract birds to their yards. The class is $25 a person and will be held from 10 a.m. to noon.

On the same day, birders can spend the afternoon with Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory birding expert Doug Faulkner. The workshop will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Oct. 15 and costs $25 a person. Faulkner will focus on water birds. Participants should bring binoculars and bird books. The group will carpool to different areas.

Those who can't make scheduled events may have the opportunity to arrange a custom hike with a naturalist. Yampatika is not an outfitting service, however, and custom trips can be arranged only if staff has time.

Anyone interested in Yampatika can call 871-9151 or visit www.yampatika.org.

Although Yampatika has a full and diverse schedule of activities, there are plenty of other recreational opportunities in the area.

The Yampa Valley Golf Course offers an 18-hole course along the Yampa River on 120 acres in Craig. The golf course's official season ends Oct. 31.

Golf also is available at Steamboat Golf Club and Haymaker Golf Course. Private courses include Catamount Ranch & Club and the Sheraton Steamboat Golf Course.

Hunting season falls during Steamboat's shoulder season, meaning the Steamboat Ski Area gondola is closed. But there is plenty to do, including shopping downtown and on the mountain, visiting Strawberry Park Hot Springs, hot air ballooning and hiking and biking. The Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Association features hot and cold pools and a heated water slide. n

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