The road previously taken
‘Journey 65 Million Years in 65 Miles’ tour brings past to present
Tips for the best experience on the “Journey 65 Million Years in 65 Miles” tour:
• Drive a high-clearance vehicle.
• Avoid the tour when the roads are muddy.
• Stay on the designated route.
• Allow four to five hours to complete the tour.
• Take time to explore.
Source: Gina Robison, Bureau of Land Management’s Little Snake Field Office
Get a copy of the brochure
Copies of the “Journey 65 Million Years in 65 Miles” tour brochure are available at the Bureau of Land Management’s Little Snake Field Office, 455 Emerson St. The brochure can also be downloaded directly below.
“When I do this, it’s like looking at an area and appreciating what your community has to offer. There’s really more to it than people think.”
— Gina Robison, outdoor recreation planner for the Bureau of Land Management’s Little Snake Field Office, on the “Journey 65 Million Years in 65 Miles” self-guided tour
Gina Robison gazed out over the valley from a scenic trail on Duffy Mountain.
“Look at this,” Robison said Tuesday morning. “Can you see why I love this area? It’s just so primitive and peaceful.
“I want people to get outdoors and experience this.”
Count that as a top reason Robison, outdoor recreation planner for the Bureau of Land Management’s Little Snake Field Office, has created a new project.
Robison released the self-guided tour, “Journey 65 Million Years in 65 Miles,” in recent weeks. The tour begins at the intersection of First Street and Colorado Highway 13 in Craig and heads south to Moffat County Road 17, which drivers take northwest through Axial Basin. The tour concludes by heading east on U.S. Highway 40 back to Craig.
The tour includes a drive to the top of Duffy Mountain in the summer, but stays the course of County Road 17 past the mountain in winter.
The original one-page project began as a way to showcase Duffy Mountain — an area Robison strives to promote for public use — but quickly grew as Robison discovered more information.
“When you start doing the research, it’s like, ‘Wow, this area has a lot of history,’” Robison said. “It just expanded into this whole tour.”
The self-guided tour, which took about two years to come to fruition, is now a 20-page brochure and will likely grow into a book and a downloadable audio tour, Robison said. Robison said the pared-down information in the brochure will be expanded with more photos to fill the book she’s planning.
“I think (knowing the history) makes any place you go a little more interesting,” she said. “Do the research … then you can appreciate it a lot better.”
Highlights from the tour include historic sites such as former bustling towns, bridges critical to supply transportation, livestock corrals, railroads and even a Ute tribe horse-racing track.
“During this tour, you really get a feel for the people who shaped Northwest Colorado,” Robison said. “It doesn’t look like much out here (southwest of Craig), but once you start looking around and exploring and seeing the houses and the history, you realize this was really busy once.”
And while recent history is evident, the tour gets its name from history much older than those attractions.
Robison said the area featured in the tour used to be underwater, part of the Western Interior Seaway that divided North America into two halves, more than 65 million years ago.
“Eventually it dried up,” she said. “It’s one of the reasons we have so many fossils here.”
Robison points to impressions in rocks on Duffy Mountain that provide evidence of either dinosaur tracks, fish nests or weathering. The mountain’s rocks also have markings of downed trees remaining.
In addition to the history that abounds on the tour, Robison said the route offers plenty of opportunity to view birds and wildlife, hike, photograph and camp.
Duffy Mountain especially, Robison said, offers a “one-stop shopping area” for recreation, from river access to off-highway vehicle riding to geocaching.
“If you’re a local, it’s a great place to come and get away for the weekend,” Robison said. “I really think it has everything you want.
“I just love it up here. There’s something about the scenery and what it has to offer.”
And while residents can learn about their backyards with the easy-to-follow directions, Robison said the brochure was designed for tourists.
The BLM partnered with Northwest Colorado Cultural Heritage Tourism, the Community Agricultural Alliance and the Museum of Northwest Colorado to create the “65 Million Years” tour.
“If you want to promote your town, I think this is a good way to do it — how did this place come to be here and what is this town all about?” Robison said.
She said the tour is a culmination of her passion for her job of sharing public lands, as well as her interest in researching the area’s history.
Robison said she hopes the project will raise awareness about the area’s recreational offerings as well as the beginnings of this piece of Northwest Colorado.
“When I do this, it’s like looking at an area and appreciating what your community has to offer,” Robison said. “There’s really more to it than people think.”