MoCo Treasures — Half-Day Trip: Yellow Jacket Pass a drive to remember
Named for a wasp with a sharp sting, Yellow Jacket Pass road travels by the Thornburg Mountains and through the Danforth Hills. Sites along the roadside are rich in history.
About 4 miles down the road is Monument Butte. Locally known as “Molly’s Bonnet” in honor of Molly Rink who homesteaded the area said, the Bureau of Land Management.
Nearby Monument Butte State Wildlife Area is 653 acres open from Sept. 1 to Feb. 28 for hunting elk, deer, rabbits and grouse. Motor vehicles are not allowed so access is by foot or horseback only.
Another 10 miles down the road is a memorial park for one of the last battles in of “Indian Wars,” said the Historical Society of Meeker websiteHistorical Society of Meeker website. .
On Sept. 29, 1879 a tense meeting between U.S. soldiers and Utes turned deadly when a single gunshot was fired sparking a weeklong battle.
Major Thornburg was killed in the fighting the mountains near the site were given his name.
Other soldiers were pinned down until rescued by a unit of Buffalo Soldiers 12 of whom would later be the first black men to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor.
More of the conflict is described on the historic society websitehistoric society website. .
To get there
Take Colorado Highway 13 south of Craig about 15 miles to Moffat County Road 45 the Yellow Jacket Pass Road. Moffat County Road 45 becomes Rio Blanco County Road 15 and meets Highway 13 about five miles north of the town of Meeker.
Primitive camping sites are available in the White River National Forest at Aldrich Lake accessed by taking Rio Blanco County Road 51. Forest access is also available from Rio Blanco County Road 48.
White River National Forest Blanco Ranger District in Meeker at 970-878-4039.
Historical Society of Meeker website at MeekerColorado.com.
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Erin Smiddy has lived in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District nearly all her life. An unaffiliated voter who lives in Aspen, Smiddy said she voted for President Joe Biden and Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush, who ran against Republican Lauren Boebert, in the 2020 election. So far she said she’s not impressed with Boebert’s job performance.