Cherokee Park Road (County Road 80C) is a 32-mile dirt road that takes you through lovely vistas of the Laramie Foothills on the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains in Northern Colorado.
Cherokee Park Road turns off (paved) US-Highway 287 about 20 miles north of Fort Collins, Colorado. After driving for about 77 minutes (if you don’t stop for hikes, picnics, fishing, etc.), 80C changes its name to Sand Creek Road. Time to turn around and enjoy the views the other way…
Scott and I discovered this road through a chain of events. First, someone recommended he check out the North Fork River in Eagle’s Nest Open Space for some late summer fly fishing. We ended up spending an entire Sunday afternoon up there. Once we gushed about how lovely and secluded it was up there, Pete recommended, the near-by Halligan Reservoir.
So on Wednesday we tried to find Halligan Reservoir… We turned off 287 at Cherokee Park Road and were immediately enamored with the rock structures. Why go up to Vedauwoo, if we have this right here in Colorado? Alas, once we got the smaller dirt roads that were supposed to take us to the reservoir, we found them all locked up for the season. Instead of hiking in, we kept driving. That’s when we discovered all the bright Aspen trees in the autumn colors. On that day, we chose against following 80c once it becomes a “not maintained in the winter” road and followed the more prominent County Road 59, which led us to Wyoming. Hello. By the way, it is easy to miss that you have to turn left at that point to stay on Cherokee Park Road instead of accidentally driving up to Wyoming via 59.
Because Cherokee Park Road had been so cool on this partial drive, we returned this Sunday to take it all the way west to Eaton Reservoir aka Worster Reservoir and explore the Cherokee State Wildlife Areas along the way.
I thought I’d share the lovely ride with you and shot it with the GoPro Hero 3 mounted to the hood of our car. Now, I’m quite disappointed with the image quality of the video online. I don’t know why I keep falling for shooting driving time-lapse with the GoPro. Once it’s exported and uploaded, it’s so chunky, it makes me cringe. Please make sure you watch the video at the highest resolution (1080p). It does still give you a pretty good idea of what that drive is like, right? And you can always come visit me, and I’ll show you the full-resolution offline version, which looks fine… or maybe I’ll even take you for this drive…
As you travel Cherokee Road, you have the opportunity to stop at several entrances to the Cherokee Wildlife Area, which is divided into Upper Unit (4,822 acres), Lone Pine Unit (6,654 acres), Lower Unit (2,751 acres), and Middle Unit (4,826 acres). Fishing, hunting and camping are allowed with certain restrictions. But this Colorado State Wildlife Area is a patchwork of units interspersed with Forest Service land and private property; so you have to pay attention to whose land you’re on. There’s a great interactive map that can help you sort that out.
We stopped for awhile along Sheep Creek for a picnic, fishing and photographing. After this afternoon in the sun, we were ready to build a little summer cabin along the stream up there.
The song in this video is appropriately enough called “Dirt Road Traveler” by Jason Shaw of Audionautix. He made this song available via the CC BY 3.0 license, which I’m super grateful for. Thank you, Jason!
I took quite a few pictures along this drive with other cameras. So they’re not exactly shots from the video. But I’ll publish them as such over the next week in the In A Colorado Minute 2016 Flickr album and on my blog: Photos from along Cherokee Park Road, Colorado
If the Moving Postcard patrons on Patreon vote for it, I will release a video with the entire drive (heading west and heading back east) in the near-ish future.