Whiskey Park  
USGS 7.5' Map: Elkhorn Mountain, Hahns Peak
Difficulty: Number: Miles: Altitude: Obstacles: Time:
Graded FR 550 15.20 8,600 to 8,900 ft. NA 2-3 hours
County: Routt
Adopted by:      
Managed by: Routt National Forest,
Hahns Peak / Bears Ears Ranger District
925 Weiss Drive
Steamboat Springs, CO 80487-9315
Summary: Whiskey Park is a main road through the forest north of Hahns Peak. It connects many 4WD roads and motorized trails.
Attractions: Camping, Motorized Trails
Forest Service - from December 1 to June 15
Best Time: June - Best
July - Best
August - Best
September - Best
October - May have snow on the road
Whiskey Creek, FT1197 - Motorcycle only.
Pioneer, FT1149 - Vehicles less than 50 inches.
Ellis North, FT1149 - Vehicles less than 50 inches.
Camping: There are dispersed camp sites all along this road.
Base Camp: This would be a good area to base camp and explore the large number of 4WD roads, motorcycle, ATV and UTV trails in the area.
Fall Colors: Good - Lots of aspen along the road.
Navigation: From Hahns Peak, CO. head northwest on County Rd 129 toward County Rd 62 and go 5.2 miles. Turn right onto Whisky Park road, FR550.
History: The Whiskey Park area has a myriad of history. It was part of the Hahns Peak area that was mined for gold and silver, it also produced cattle, sheep, and timber for the railroads to take back east. Though its early history was based on the discovery of ore on Hahns Peak, it also had a ranching history. With the cattlemen arriving first and running large heards on the open range, the idea of bringing in sheep was not embraced.

The Routt County range wars reached a boil in 1911 with the George Woolley Sheep Massacre, when several hundred sheep were "rimrocked" by driving them over a cliff. The citizens of Routt County were outraged by the crime, and although the perpetrators were never caught, the sheep industry gained much sympathy. The war degenerated to the use of strychnine on sheep in 1913. By 1915 sheep were grazing in Routt National Forest, having been brought into Whiskey Park in 1910, and in 1920 the Northwest Sheepgrowers Association was formed for mutual protection.

In 1887 reports claimed that early prospectors were finding large lodes of precious metals. By the 1900s Whiskey Park was attracting large numbers of miners. It is unknown how Whiskey Park got its name, though it might be and interesting tale. The Elkhorn Mine was the largest and most developed in the Whiskey Park area. At 40 feet deep the mine hit fourteen inches of solid silver. The vein was said to be one-fourth solid silver, valued at $1000 a ton, plus $30 of gold per ton. After these reports not much was heard about Whiskey Park again.

Athearn, Frederic J. An Isolated Empire: A History of Northwestern Colorado Bureau of Land Management: Third ed., 1982, Print.
Eberhart, Perry Guide to the Colorado ghost towns and mining camps Swallow Press, Athens Ohio: Fourth ed., 1987, Print.
Whiskey Park runs from Columbine, CO, up to the Wyoming border, mostly following Whiskey Creek. The road is an easy two lane graded road. I have been on the north end and the sothern end near Big Red Park. The center section description is based on Google Earth.

Starting from south on CR129, north of Columbine, you will turn off onto the Whiskey Park, FR550, road and pass the Quarry Winter Parking area on the right. The road will turn and head up a side tributary of Independence Creek and then pass a short spur road, FR550.1H, which heads back west up on the hill to the north of the tributary. Staying to the right you will head through rolling hills of pine and aspen forest and then make a turn to the east before coming to a large parking area on the right side of the road. This is the Elkhorn South Winter Parking area and trailhead. On the east end of the parking lot is a road that heads south, which is the Twin Mountain, FR413, road. Continue past the parking area and at a large curve you will pass the Elhorn Trail, FT1149, on your right. The road will continue through pine forests for a while before coming out along the north edge of Little Red Park. At the north end of the park you will come to a large intersection. The road on the right is Red Park, FR500, stay to the left and you will immediately pass a spur road on the left, Mexican Park, FR501. Continue to the right on the main road, FR550.

You will head into the forest and turn to the southeast before heading back to the north and crossing King Solomon Creek. The road will head into the forest and climb through rolling hills before making a turn to the northwest and pass a dispersed campsite on the left. Next you will come to another intersection with FR504 heading off to the right. Stay to the left and continue along the graded road until you come to an opening on the right side of the road. Here to the east side of this clearing is a small gully in the trees. In the gully just below the road is a large pile of sawdust from the Turner Sawmill which operated here in the 1930s.
Graded road near sawdust pile

photo by:
Adam M

The road will now turn and head southwest through the pine and aspen trees passing a dispersed campsite on the left and then intersecting with the Independence, FR503, road on the left at a wide turn. Staying to the right the road will turn north again heading up a long open valley. As the valley narrows you will pass two roads that connect on the left, FR552 and FR502.1A. Continue to the right and cross the head of the small valley and then out to run along the edge of Crane Park on your left.
Graded road

photo by:
Adam M

A small cluster of trees will be on the left in the middle of the park. Here a small spur road, FR550.1D goes to a dispersed campsite. Not too much further up the road you will pass FR553 on the right, which goes to a dispersed campsite, and then FR550.1E on the left that also goes to a dispersed campsite. Continuing you will start to drop down a rise and pass FR550.1I on the left that goes to three dispersed campsites. Just past this spur the road will head down to a culvert crossing of the Middle Fork of the Little Snake River. On the other side there is a possible dispersed campsite on the left. The road will head up a side tributary of the river passing a spur road, FR511, on the right and then head along an aspen forest topping out over a small ridge. The road will drop down passing a spur road, FR550.1C on the left that goes to dispersed campsites. Continue to the right and you will pass more dispersed campsites on the right.

You will come down a small slope with Whiskey Park spreading out in front of you. The road will cross Whiskey Creek and head out into the open area of the park. Out in the park you will pass a spur road on the right, FR550.1F, that goes to dispersed campsites. Continuing you will pass the Pioneer Trail, FT1149.1B, on the left. The road will continue to head north and cross Whiskey Creek again before climbing up a bit and coming to another intersection. The road on the left is Elkhorn Mountain, FR508. Continue to the right and you will shortly pass a spur road on the left, FR415, which goes to a dispersed campsite. Continue to the right and you will head into the forest following Whiskey Creek north and then drop down following a tributary of the creek to a sharp turn where you will pass Whiskey Creek Trail, FT1197, on the left. The road will continue back up into the forest and then head north following the main branch of Whiskey Creek up to the Colorado and Wyoming border.
Data updated - February 17, 2024     4WD Road driven - September 4, 2023     Copyright 4X4Explore.com - 2000-2024