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Young gun

Travis Young enjoys exploring mountains as much as patrolling the streets

Michelle Balleck

Travis Young proposed to his wife, Shannon, during a midnight hike on Cedar Mountain after driving his 1971 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ-40 to the top.

This life-changing act combined two of his greatest loves: “Shan” and those classic off-road vehicles.

Most commonly recognized as a Craig police officer, Young is known among friends as an outdoorsman and adventurer. He said he enjoys backpacking, snowshoeing, snowboarding, hiking and four-wheeling.



A Colorado native, Young was born in Fort Collins, moved to Westminster when he was 3, and he spent most of his childhood in Conifer.

“I pretty much spent my whole life there,” he said.



After high school, Young worked as a cement finisher for seven years. He then became a teacher’s aide for children with disabilities at Wheatridge Middle School in Wheatridge.

“Even though working with the disabled kids was fun, I didn’t think there was much opportunity for advancement or excitement as this field,” he said.

Young’s father and grandfather were Denver firemen, and they inspired him at a young age.

“My dad always had exciting stories,” he said. “He was like a superhero.”

Young knew early on that he wanted to be a police officer or a fireman.

“I wanted to be a motorcycle policeman since I was like 3 or 4,” he said. “I knew inside that I wanted to be a policeman more than a fireman as I got older.”

So he left his job at the school to pursue his dream, and he entered a full-time police academy in Denver, which kept him busy and didn’t pay a dime.

“You really couldn’t have another job,” he said. “Shannon used to buy me groceries.”

He had met his wife earlier in Denver while the two played on an indoor soccer team together.

They dated until he accepted the job with the Craig Police Department. Then they began a long-distance relationship.

Young proposed in May 2002, and Shannon became his wife on a rainy day in June 2003.

She accepted a job as a fifth-grade literacy teacher at Craig Middle School and joined him in Moffat County.

“When you move in with someone, it’s hard to get used to their habits and routines,” he said.

But it seems the couple has grown accustomed to each other’s company. They finish each other’s sentences and often unknowingly dress alike.

“Usually that ends up happening,” Shannon said. “It’s scary.”

While the newlyweds are getting comfortable with one another, they also have a roommate to warm up to.

Young’s younger brother, Seth, is staying with them while he student teaches at CIS.

“It’s like Three’s Company but reversed,” Young said. “We get along really well.”

But Shannon had a harder time getting used to one aspect of her relationship with the police officer.

“When we first got married, I didn’t sleep much because I worried, but I’ve gotten better,” she said. “I worry more when he goes on SRT calls.”

Young loves his job, particularly being a member of the Special Response Team, a squad that trains for high-risk situations.

“The training’s more physical and you get to shoot your weapons more,” he said. “We can use those tactics in day-to-day stuff as a patrol officer.”

Police Chief Walt Vanatta said Young brought youth to the force.

“He’s very energetic and puts a lot of effort into his work and it shows in the quality of the work he does,” Vanatta said.

Sgt. Larry Mullen agreed, saying Young was sympathetic with the victims he’s helping.

“He seems to enjoy his job and sticking up for the one who’s been injured,” he said.

“He’s quiet, but he’s enthusiastic.”

Young and his wife said they liked living outside of Craig where they can have some land, but hope they can move to a larger city eventually.

“Sometimes I want to work for a bigger city department,” he said. “But I think we’re real fortunate to work for a smaller department. We know everyone we work with.”

As for children, the couple said their dog, Elly, was their only child.

They said they probably will wait awhile to have any others.

“Our parents have thought about kids for us,” she said. “We’re not ready for all that responsibility. There’s too much to do still.”

They hope to do some more traveling before taking that step. The Youngs honeymooned in Ireland and Scotland, and hope to travel to Alaska, Costa Rica and Australia soon. She also is eager to show him Singapore, where she spent much of her life.

But for now, they enjoy spending time around Craig, at Freeman Reservoir and Mount Zirkel wilderness area.

They may relocate at some point, but Young said he has one requirement.

“I’d move to another state,” he said, “but it’d have to be a state that has the Rocky Mountains running through it.”


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