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Middle Park (elev. 8,000 ft or 2,400 m) is a high basin in the Rocky Mountains of north-central Colorado in the United States. It is located in Grand County, on the southwest slope of Rocky Mountain National Park, approximately 50 miles (80 km) west of (and across the continental divide from) Boulder.
The basin surrounds the headwaters of the Colorado River on the west side of the Front Range. It extends southwestward from the source of the Colorado at Grand Lake, downstream past Granby (the largest community), Hot Sulphur Springs, Parshall and Kremmling. It terminates on the western end roughly where the Colorado passes Gore Canyon at the southern end of the Gore Range. The valley also extends into the lower valleys of side tributaries on the upper Colorado such as the Fraser River, Williams Fork, and Willow Creek. The valley of the Fraser contains the towns of Fraser and Winter Park. The lower Blue River downstream of Dillon Reservoir is often included as part of Middle Park.
The valley receives its name from being the middle (and smallest) of the three large mountain valleys (i.e., parks) in Colorado on the western side of the Front Range. The other two are North Park and South Park. U.S. Highway 34 traverses the valley from the northeast to the southwest, and connects to U.S. Highway 40 at Granby.
The valley is surrounded on the north, east, and south by mountains that form the continental divide, and thus it forms a slight pocket eastward in the drainage basin of the Pacific Ocean in this part of the Rockies. North Park, to the north, is drained by the North Platte River and separated from the valley by relatively low passes, Muddy Pass and Willow Creek Pass. The passes on the east (Milner Pass) and south (Berthoud Pass), connect to the basin of the South Platte River. They are both in the Front Range proper and thus are higher and more likely to be snow-covered. Milner Pass is near the high point on Trail Ridge Road (U.S. Highway 34 in Rocky Mountain National Park) and is open only during summer months, allowing a seasonal connection by road between Estes Park and Grand Lake. Berthoud Pass, at the headwaters of the Fraser south of Winter Park, connects the valley via U.S. Highway 40 to Interstate 70 in Clear Creek Canyon. This latter route is the most direct route between the valley and Denver.
The valley contains several reservoirs on the Colorado and its tributaries, including Lake Granby, which inundates a large portion of the northeastern part of the valley. Unlike North Park and South Park, which are wide flat basins at the headwaters of the North and South Platte respectively, Middle Park is a narrower basin, allowing for less agricultural use as pasturelands. The main industry in the valley is tourism, including alpine skiing at Winter Park Ski Resort. Much traffic between Denver and the destination resort of Steamboat Springs passes through the valley as well, allowing for secondary tourism industries to proliferate in the smaller towns. The smaller demand for water allows much of the water in the upper Colorado basin to be transported eastward across the continental divide to the Colorado Front Range as part of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project.
The South Platte River is one of the two principal tributaries of the Platte River. Flowing through the U.S. states of Colorado and Nebraska, it is itself a major river of the American Midwest and the American Southwest/Mountain West. Its drainage basin includes much of the eastern flank of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, much of the populated region known as the Colorado Front Range and Eastern Plains, and a portion of southeastern Wyoming in the vicinity of the city of Cheyenne. It joins the North Platte River in western Nebraska to form the Platte, which then flows across Nebraska to the Missouri. The river serves as the principal source of water for eastern Colorado. In its valley along the foothills in Colorado, it has permitted agriculture in an area of the Colorado Piedmont and Great Plains that is otherwise arid.
Granby is a statutory town. It is the most populous municipality in Grand County, Colorado, United States. Granby is situated along U.S. Highway 40 in the Middle Park basin, and it is about 85 miles (137 km) northwest of Denver and 14 miles (23 km) southwest of Rocky Mountain National Park. As of the 2010 census the town had a population of 1,864.
South Park is a grassland flat within the basin formed by the Rocky Mountains' Mosquito and Park Mountain Ranges within central Colorado. This high valley ranges in elevation from approximately 9,000 to 10,000 ft. It encompasses approximately 1,000 square miles around the headwaters of the South Platte River in Park County approximately 60 mi (100 km) southwest of Denver. It is the largest and southernmost of three similarly named high altitude basins in the Front Range of Colorado, the others being North Park and Middle Park. The largest town in the basin is Fairplay, with a population of 681.
The Yampa River flows 250 miles (400 km) through northwestern Colorado in the United States. Rising in the Rocky Mountains, it is a tributary of the Green River and a major part of the Colorado River system. The Yampa is one of the few free-flowing rivers in the western United States, with only a few small dams and diversions.
The Fraser River is a tributary of the Colorado River, approximately 32.5 miles (52.3 km) long, in north central Colorado in the United States. It drains a large portion of the Middle Park basin in Grand County in the Rocky Mountains west of Boulder and southwest of Rocky Mountain National Park. It rises at the continental divide on the north side of Berthoud Pass in the Arapaho National Forest. It flows NNW past Winter Park, Fraser, and Tabernash, and joins the Colorado River from the south two miles west of Granby.
U.S. Route 34 (US 34) is an east–west United States highway that runs for 1,122 miles (1,806 km) from north-central Colorado to the western suburbs of Chicago. Through Rocky Mountain National Park it is known as the Trail Ridge Road where it reaches elevation 12,183 feet (3,713 m), making it the third highest paved through highway in the United States. The highway's western terminus is Granby, Colorado at US 40. Its eastern terminus is in Berwyn, Illinois at Illinois Route 43 and Historic US 66.
Berthoud Pass is a high mountain pass in central Colorado, in the Rocky Mountains of the western United States.
North Park is a high, sparsely populated basin in the Rocky Mountains in north central Colorado in the United States. It encompasses a wide valley in Jackson County rimmed by mountain ranges at the headwaters of the North Platte River and several smaller tributaries, including the Michigan River, Illinois River, and Canadian River. The valley receives its name from being the northernmost of the three large mountain valleys in Colorado on the western side of the Front Range. The others are Middle Park and South Park respectively.
Willow Creek Pass, elevation 9,659 ft (2,944 m), is a mountain pass that crosses the Continental Divide in the Rocky Mountains of north central Colorado.
State Highway 125 (SH 125) is a state highway in the U.S. state of Colorado. The highway runs north–south through Jackson and Grand counties in north central Colorado. It furnishes the principal north–south link through North Park and a connection to Middle Park over Willow Creek Pass. It is two-lane along its entire route. SH 125's southern terminus is at U.S. Route 40 west of Granby, and the northern terminus is at Wyoming Highway 230 at the Wyoming border.
The Never Summer Mountains are a mountain range in the Rocky Mountains in north central Colorado in the United States consisting of seventeen named peaks. The range is located along the northwest border of Rocky Mountain National Park, forming the continental divide between the headwaters of the Colorado River in Rocky Mountain National Park to the local-east and the upper basin of the North Platte River to the local-west; the continental divide makes a loop in these mountains. The range is small and tall, covering only 25 sq mi (65 km2) with a north-south length of 10 mi (16 km) while rising to over 12,000 ft (3,700 m) at over ten distinct peaks. The range straddles the Jackson-Grand county line for most of its length, and stretches into Jackson and Larimer county at its northern end. A panoramic view of the range is available from sections of Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park. One of the northernmost peaks, Nokhu Crags, is prominently visible from the west side of Cameron Pass.
Muddy Pass is a high mountain pass in the Rocky Mountains of northern Colorado in the United States.
The North Fork South Platte River is a tributary of the South Platte River, approximately 50 miles (80 km) long, in central Colorado in the United States. The river is located near the headwaters of the South Platte in the Rocky Mountains southwest of Denver, draining a rugged area of the Front Range just south of the basin of Clear Creek.
The Mosquito Range is a high mountain range in the Rocky Mountains of central Colorado in the United States. The peaks of the range form a ridge running north–south for roughly 40 mi (64 km) from southern Summit County on the north end, then along the boundary between Lake and Park Counties. The ranges forms a high barrier separating the headwaters of the Arkansas River near Leadville from South Park and the headwaters of the South Platte River near Fairplay. The highest peak in the range is Mount Lincoln at an elevation of 14,286 ft. Other fourteeners in the range are Quandary Peak, Mount Bross (14,172 ft), Mount Democrat (14,148 ft), and Mount Sherman (14,036 ft).
The Middle Fork South Platte River is a tributary of the South Platte River, approximately 50 miles (80 km) long, located in central Colorado in the United States. The river provides part of the drainage of South Park, the intermontane grassland basin located between the Front Range and the Mosquito Range in the Rocky Mountains southwest of Denver.
The Colorado-Big Thompson Project is a federal water diversion project in Colorado designed to collect West Slope mountain water from the headwaters of the Colorado River and divert it to Colorado's Front Range and plains. In Colorado, approximately 80% of the state's precipitation falls on the West Slope, in the Rocky Mountains, while around 80% of the state's growing population lives along the East Slope, between the cities of Fort Collins and Pueblo.
The geography of the U.S. State of Colorado is diverse, encompassing both rugged mountainous terrain, vast plains, desert lands, desert canyons, and mesas. In 1861, the United States Congress defined the boundaries of the new Territory of Colorado exclusively by lines of latitude and longitude, stretching from 37°N to 41°N latitude, and from 102°02'48"W to 109°02'48"W longitude. Starting in 1868, official surveys demarcated the boundaries, deviating from the parallels and meridians in several places. Later surveys attempted to correct some of these mistakes but in 1925 the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that the earlier demarcation was the official boundary. The borders of Colorado are now officially defined by 697 boundary markers connected by straight boundary lines. Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah are the only states that have their borders defined solely by straight boundary lines with no natural features. The southwest corner of Colorado is the Four Corners Monument at 36°59'56"N, 109°2'43"W. This is the only place in the United States where four states meet: Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah.
Fall River Pass is a mountain pass in northern Colorado, in the Rocky Mountains of the western United States. It is located in the Front Range, within Rocky Mountain National Park. The pass is traversed by U.S. Highway 34 on Trail Ridge Road between Granby and Estes Park. However, as at Milner Pass on the Continental Divide, the road does not descend after reaching the pass from the west, but instead continues to climb along a side ridge; thus, neither pass is the high point on Trail Ridge Road, which crests at 12,183 feet (3,713 m) elevation, east of Fall River Pass, still within Rocky Mountain National Park. On the other hand, the old, largely unpaved, and one-way-uphill Fall River Road does have its summit at Fall River Pass, where it joins the modern highway for the descent to the west.
U.S. Route 34 (US 34) is a part of the U.S. Highway System that travels from Granby, Colorado, to Berwyn, Illinois. In the U.S. state of Colorado, US 34 is a 260-mile-long (420 km) road that spans across northern Colorado. It begins at US 40 in Granby and ends at the Nebraska border, where it continues as US 34, east of Laird.
The Colorado River is a major river of the western United States and northwest Mexico in North America. Its headwaters are in the Rocky Mountains where La Poudre Pass Lake is its source. Located in north central Colorado it flows southwest through the Colorado Plateau country of western Colorado, southeastern Utah and northwestern Arizona where it flows through the Grand Canyon. It turns south near Las Vegas, Nevada, forming the Arizona–Nevada border in Lake Mead and the Arizona–California border a few miles below Davis Dam between Laughlin, Nevada and Needles, California before entering Mexico in the Colorado Desert. Most of its waters are diverted into the Imperial Valley of Southern California. In Mexico its course forms the boundary between Sonora and Baja California before entering the Gulf of California. This article describes most of the major features along the river.