Flickr album link: Cross Mountain Canyon
The east side of Dinosaur National Monument is a very remote area that offers an opportunity to escape from the big crowds. Deer Lodge Park is the eastern most point of interest and plenty of outdoor adventures await right next door. Rafting, kayaking and fishing along the Yampa River is the main attraction and the confluence of the picturesque Little Snake River offers even more outdoor adventures. A little further east is where the Yampa River runs through Cross Mountain Canyon, which truly is a monumental landmark that is well worth checking out. The Cross Mountain Takeout can easily be accessed from the road to Deer Lodge Park and the views of this abyss are simply amazing to see.
The Cross Mountain Takeout is where the Yampa River exits the deep canyon and visitors will have to take the long way around to get to the mouth of the canyon on the other side. There is signage on Highway 40 next to the mountain for a long dirt road that goes to the East Cross Mountain Put-In and Campground. This dirt road is fairly smooth, but a high ground clearance vehicle is recommended. The high desert rolling hills on the way to the Yampa River are a haven for large wild game and packs of elk bulls can be seen in this area during the rutting season. For this reason, it is best to keep a powerful lens handy during the ride.
The East Cross Mountain Put-In and Campground is managed by the Yampa River State Park Service, which offers a few access points along this stretch of the river. Cross Mountain was a recent BLM acquisition and the canyon area is managed by the same agency. The state park put-in site is exactly as it sounds and it is a popular spot for launching kayaks or rafts through the majestic Cross Mountain Canyon. There is a riverside campground onsite with basic facilities, while for those who plan a float trip, the campground at Deer Lodge Park is a nice place to end the Yampa River canyon cutting adventure. Other destinations nearby include the Gates Of Lodore and Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge on the Green River. Fuel management is the key to touring all of these places, since the gas stations are few and far between in this desolate region. Cross Mountain Canyon certainly offers an outstanding recreational opportunity, so be sure to chalk this landmark high on the list!
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