Signs along the side of Buffalo Pass Road just past the Dry Lake Campground parking area warn motorists that the route will be closed for six to eight weeks beginning Monday.

Photo by John F. Russell

Signs along the side of Buffalo Pass Road just past the Dry Lake Campground parking area warn motorists that the route will be closed for six to eight weeks beginning Monday.

Buffalo Pass Road closure won't be a welcome sight to hunters

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— Deer and elk hunters accustomed to setting up camp on the west side of Buffalo Pass just northeast of Steamboat Springs may need to rethink their plans this autumn.

Reconstruction of three miles of the unpaved Buffalo Pass Road (Routt County Road 38 and Forest Service Road 60) will begin Monday, and the road will be closed to all vehicles from the gate at Dry Lake Campground. The road construction on the west side of Buffalo Pass is expected to continue for six to eight weeks, meaning it will extend at least through the second rifle season, a combined deer and elk hunt.

Improvements include culvert replacement, reconstruction of turnouts and a new gravel base, according to the U.S. Forest Service. 

The Forest Service news release stated that “road projects such as this are a short-term inconvenience for long-term public safety.”

Hunters still will be able to access the summit of Buffalo Pass and upper reaches of the west side of the pass from Jackson County via the Walden area.

The commencement of construction is about a month later than what was anticipated by the Hahn’s Peak/Bears Ears Ranger District in early August.

Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife area wildlife manager Jim Haskins said he’s concerned that some hunters coming from the Front Range or distant states won’t learn about the closure until they arrive in the area.

“It’s an inconvenience. There’s no way around it,” Haskins said Tuesday. “That is a little bit of a problem for a lot of hunters. We know we’re going to hear about it in our office. But the bottom line is it’s not a huge impact.”

The inconvenienced hunters likely will include Steamboat residents intent on getting 90 minutes of hunting in after work.

Archery season for deer and elk is under way and continues through Sept. 26. Muzzleloading season for deer and elk ends Sunday.

The first limited elk season runs from Oct. 15 to 19, and the second season, which is also the first of the combined deer and elk seasons, runs from Oct. 22 to 30.

Those most affected by the road reconstruction will be hunters who drew permits for Game Management Unit 14, which runs north to Hahn’s Peak and Little Snake River beyond, Haskins said.

Destination hunters could adapt by accessing Buffalo Pass from its east side near the Grizzly Creek Campground in North Park. And Haskins said there’s no shortage of road access to the area along the west side of the Park Range from Mad Creek to the Red Dirt Trail to Clark, the Greenville Mine and Seedhouse Road.

However, camping is much more limited in those areas than on the west side of Buffalo Pass, Haskins said. There is no car camping at Mad Creek and Red Dirt, though the trails lead into the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area.

“Guys who leave Denver on a Friday night pulling a trailer could be surprised,” Haskins said.

Many hunters whose licenses allow them to hunt in Game Management Unit 14 also are able to hunt in neighboring Unit 214 to the west, which includes public lands in the area west of Sand Mountain and Steamboat Lake. But hunters who aren’t as familiar with those areas may be at a disadvantage, Haskins added.

Buffalo Pass Road closure


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Comments

mark bond 3 years, 1 month ago

“It’s an inconvenience. There’s no way around it,” Haskins said Tuesday. “That is a little bit of a problem for a lot of hunters. We know we’re going to hear about it in our office. But the bottom line is it’s not a huge impact.”

"There's no way around it"? Sure there is, put it off until next Spring's melt off. No one is using the road for the next six month's after hunting season anyway.

"it's not a huge impact." Of course it is a huge impact which could easily be avoided. It is impacting one of the highest uses of the road all year! It is a huge deal if some guy from the front range or out of state plans his entire time off/vacation only to lose hours of time when he gets there and the road is closed! I am not even a hunter and I can understand this.

If this was a business enterprise, they would never make this decision. But it is typical government decision making!

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mtroach 3 years, 1 month ago

Mark; the repairs are to help deminish the erosion of the roadway from spring runoff. Putting them off till after the runoff isn't going to help prevent damage from the runoff. Plus the hunters can access the pass from the west side or hike up the road.

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mavis 3 years, 1 month ago

Can you imagine the outcry if this was done to river road for eight weeks during Bike town USA race season???? I would LOVE to see the comments on that. I do feel bad for those hunters, guides and campers trying to get there especially considering how short all of those seasons have been.

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Cresean Sterne 3 years, 1 month ago

Winter will be here befor we know it and the road will be closed soon anyway. If they are going to close the road for 6-8 weeks they might as well close it for the season. I dont understand why they have decided to close the road during one if not the busiest times of the year though. As little as it brings in, hunting does bring in money to the county. I am not a hunter but do understand both points.

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wzdeer 3 years, 1 month ago

Crash, FYI, Hunting and fishing is the largest source of tourism revenue for Colorado.

www.coloradosportsmenwildlifefund.org/Economy.html

I am in know way bashing on your comments....I just think that most people don't realize how much money hunting and fishing brings into Routt County and the State. This is a huge obstacle for our out of town hunters and they should have had this work done in the middle of the summer. Hunters will now be facing more congestion in North Routt and Rabbit Ears and because of that, I bet the harvest will be low this year due to more pressure and animals seeking private land. US Forest Service and CDOW as usual are making idiotic mistakes. Great pre-thought on this one!

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Brian Kotowski 3 years, 1 month ago

wdeezer:

If you can link to some data substantiating your claim, I'd be grateful. My own cursory googling has come up dry. This is the closest I could get to a breakdown: http://www.denver.org/metro/media/visitor-statistics#overnightCo , which indicates that the lion's share of the state's tourism revenues over the last two years have been accrued via "overnight pleasure trips to Colorado." I haven't been able to track down anything more specific than that. Absent additional specificity, I'm afraid the unsubstantiated assertion of an advocacy group leaves me a tad skeptical.

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wzdeer 3 years, 1 month ago

Sep, I understand your point. How about I state it differently to not get into a senseless argument. Hunting does have a large impact on Routt, Moffat and Jackson counties. If you are not a hunter or in the hunting industry, you rarely will notice its impact. I understand that you might be skeptical.....thats fair. Here is a link that at least will show some of the impacts the industry has on our state, as well as our county. The whole point of my comment was that the 2 departments involved ...."I believe " mad a poor timing choice.

http://wildlife.state.co.us/SiteCollectionDocuments/DOW/AboutDow/08DOWEconomicImpactReport.pdf

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sledneck 3 years, 1 month ago

Think this was a poor choice on behalf of the USFS? Ya ain't seen nothin yet.

Just wait till everyone sees what they've hatched for North Routt. The County plowing 2 more miles of USFS road that nobody even lives on. The USFS running a major snowmobile trail right through the middle of a favorite backcountry ski spot on Hahns Peak... Can't make this stuff up.

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