Flat Tops

Contrary to their name, the Flat Tops are not actually flat. The region is a high plateau filled with forests, meadows, hills, canyons, valleys, and spectacular views of mountain ranges far away. More accessible than its wilderness cousin to the east, the western Flat Tops near Rifle are a paradise for campers, boaters, bikers, hikers, and ATVers.

The adventurer can still find secluded spots with challenging terrain in the area. The Flat Tops features what is perhaps the most impressive canyon system on the White River National Forest, projecting like fingers into the high plateau. Hadley Gulch, Main Elk Creek, Meadow Creek, Deep Creek, Clark Creek, and Mansfield Creek come together to carve through 2,000 feet of earth at Deep Creek Point. Many of these areas receives very few human visitors and have been identified by the Colorado Division of Wildlife as an area of extremely high priority habitat. The limestone cliffs in the canyons feature caves that provide habitat for rare bats. Big game populate the area extensively, including bighorn sheep, and this is critical winter range for them.

Flat Tops scenery is outstanding, featuring scattered stands of aspen and scenic alpine meadows. On top of the plateau, the land is coated in spruce/fir and aspen forest mixed with large open grassy meadows. Long riparian corridors lead to vast subalpine grasslands. Engelmann spruce and subalpine fir dominate the highlands and give way to Douglas fir and Ponderosa pine at lower elevations, and with signature riparian zone blue spruce along the creeks.

The mid-elevation forests of the Flat Tops are great wildlife habitat. Elk and other big game are abundant in the lush meadows, gorgeous aspen forests, and verdant streams. This is excellent summer range for these animals. The Flat Tops are popular for hunting and four wheel driving during the fall. The fishing is excellent too. Native American Utes found the same to be true long before ago and there is ample evidence of their use of the area.

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