Walden's winter wonderland



The 2006 Gould Ski Scramble. The next event is Feb. 24. Call Susan Galecki at (970) 846-6408 for more information.

There are no traffic lights in the town of Walden, but it is the hub of outdoor activities in a wide-open winter wilderness.

In the Gould area, in southern Jackson County, there are 100 miles of groomed trails for snowmobiling and a variety of day trips to embark upon.

You can ride into the American Lakes area, and when you reach the top of the bowl, you can look into Rocky Mountain National Park, said Debbie Wilson, publisher of the North Park Visitor's Guide.

"You can also snowmobile to Grand Lake to have lunch or dinner," she said. "A lot of people do this at night."

If you'd rather fish - and are feeling competitive - there are two ice fishing contests in January and February. Prizes are given to the person who catches the largest fish overall, and there also are prizes for the largest fish caught every hour. Call the North Park Visitor's Center at (970) 723-4600 for more information.

Cross-country skiing is another popular activity to do on the same trail the snowmobiles use in the Gould area.

"But there is a lot to ski off the groomed trails, as well," Wilson said. "Just pick up a North Park Visitors Guide, which you can find throughout North Park and at the Visitor Center."

Many individuals also come up to Jackson County with their dog sleds because of the large, open spaces.

"Jackson County is crowdless, which is a big part of it," Wilson said. "There are many restaurants to check out, motels and gift shops. You can get whatever provisions you need and within 35 minutes be unloading your snowmobile trailer and be headed up to some spectacular area."

Wilson' s favorite winter activity in Walden is taking photographs.

"You are surrounded by 360 degrees of mountains, so there is a vista anywhere you look," she said. "My favorite thing to do is head out on a blue-sky winter day and take photos. We have the Snowy Range in the north end of the county, the Never Summer range, the Rawah range and the Zirkel Wilderness to the west."

Jackson County also is home to the only state forest in Colorado. The Moose Visitor Center is in the Gould area and features an interactive exhibit with a large stuffed moose.

"Walden is the moose-viewing capital of Colorado and is really popular, especially in the snow, when you can follow their tracks," Wilson said.

There are an estimated 700 moose in the county. Big-game hunting is another popular activity in the late fall and early winter.


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