The Routt County Board of Commissioners this week approved two daily Jeep tours that will start at the Hayden Granary and run through California Park north of Hayden.

Photo by Scott Franz

The Routt County Board of Commissioners this week approved two daily Jeep tours that will start at the Hayden Granary and run through California Park north of Hayden.

Routt County commissioners approve Jeep tours into California Park

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— The Routt County Board of Commissioners liked Jason Kuczma’s plan to offer guided Jeep tours into California Park north of Hayden enough that it made it easy for him to expand his business in the future.

Kuczma, owner of Elk Mountain Adventure Tours, proposes to offer twice daily Jeep excursions along 21 miles of lightly traveled Routt County Road 80. The commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a special-use permit for the operation, and after hearing that he would like to expand to three daily tours when demand warrants, they signed off in advance on the third trip in their motion to approve. Kuczma already has a permit from the Routt National Forest for the tours, which take guests into a large, park-like area with views of the seldom-glimpsed southern flank of Sand Mountain, 10,561-foot Meaden Peak and the headwaters of Elkhead Creek.

Early ranchers built cabins and grazed cattle in California Park in the late 1880s.

County Planner Chris Brookshire said Kuczma is approved to lead three Jeep tours with as many as four guests on each trip. They will begin and end at the Hayden Granary, Kuczma told the commissioners. He also told county officials that the tours will be run by two professional guides with local knowledge and who have been trained in backcountry 4X4 operations as well as in CPR and first aid.

The tours will include lunch and leave the granary at 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Documents on file at the county confirm the National Forest has issued a one-year temporary permit for the tours, allowing time for additional review and an environmental analysis. If all reviews are approved, Kuczma would be issued a 10-year permit.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

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