Flickr album link: Independence Mountain ~ Colorado
Independence Mountain is a solitary peak in the North Park Valley next to Cowdrey, Colorado. The closest town for stocking up on supplies is Walden, which is also known as the moose capitol of the world. Topping off the tank and the rations definitely is best to do, because once on top of Independence Mountain a visitor will likely not want to leave anytime soon. The views from the crest at 9.800 feet above sea level truly are mesmerizing to see and as an added bonus, this peak is covered with aspen forest strands that paint the mountain top with bright colors during the autumn season.
Coming from the southwest access point near Lake John, the BLM dirt road going up Independence Mountain is fairly smooth with a gradual ascent. A high ground clearance vehicle is recommended for this tour and a 4x4 will present more options for taking on the rugged side trails. When compared to other challenging dirt trails in the Rockies, the trek up Independence Mountain from this direction is rated as very easy. The signage at the beginning of the trail is easy to spot, while the full length of the dirt road going up the slope will come into view. This road looks more interesting than intimidating, which is the perfect mode for an easy going family outing.
The wildlife is everywhere in the sagebrush sea of North Park, so it is best to keep a camera handy along with a powerful lens during the ride. Badgers dig burrows into the roadside berm, so if a visitor drives slow enough, a few may be seen. Pronghorn can be seen all over this mountain and the bucks tend to travel in packs during the autumn season, but once spotted they will not hang around for long. Photos of pronghorn antelope definitely are worth sharing back home and a super telephoto lens will help to fill the picture frame.
Dispersed camping is allowed on top of Independence Mountain and this is a good place for star gazing at night. Hunters frequent this area during the autumn season, which is something to be aware of when exploring the woods. Bear and moose are also found up this way, so safe food storage and keeping a safe distance will be necessary too. Late season wildflowers bloom on the mountain peaks and the change of seasons turns the aspens bright yellow and orange. The views from up top extend to the distant horizon, while gazing into the valley down below will surely inspire a dreamlike state. Independence Mountain certainly is a memorable experience, so be sure to chalk this lesser known destination high on the list!
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