Colorado Midland Railroad Depot
  • Founded in 1866 at an elevation of 8,864 feet.

  • The standard gauge railroad depot in Hartsel was one of the busiest of the line.

  • The area around Hartsel is rich in history of human occupation that goes back 12,000 years.  Archaeologists have found evidence of tools and campsites of separate groups who returned to the area each summer for the good hunting and abundant wildlife dating back to at least 10,000 BC.  The Utes continued that practice in the area until they were placed on reservations elsewhere.

  • Trappers lived among the Native Americans and delivered beaver pelts to traders as early as the late 1700s.  Zebulon Pike and his expedition visited the area in December of 1806.  Pike recorded the experience in his journal and reported back to the President of the United States.  You can find maps of the route through Colorado and Park County and information about Pike at www.zebulonpike.org.  Efforts are now being made to designate Pike's route as a National Historic Trail and a Colorado Pioneer Trail.

  • First arriving in the South Park in 1860 in search of gold, Sam Hartsel soon discovered that feeding the miners was far more lucrative than digging for gold.  He established a ranch in the open range in the heart of the South Park and gradually built it to one of the most successful cattle and sheep operations in the area and a thriving hotel near the ranch's hot springs.

  • In a large meadow east of Hartsel, the 1874 Buckley Ranch looks much like it did in the 1930s.  This six-acre National Register Distric encompasses the former ranch headquarters and numerous other buildings.  Colorado Parks & Wildlife purchased the property in 1986 and it is now part of the Spinney Mountain State Wildlife Area.  A parking area for fishing, hunting, and wildlife viewing is available at the ranch.

  • Three miles north of Hartsel, the 1874 Santa Maria Ranch is listed on the National Register and is undergoing restoration of the many historic buildings.

  • Salt Works Ranch
  • Salt Works Ranch includes the original 1862 homestead of Charles L. Hall.  A number of log and wood frame buildings typical of the period remain on the site.  Listed on the National Register of Hitoric Places, Salt Works is thought to be one of the oldest working ranches in Colorado operated by the same family.  The Colorado Salt Works, located on the ranch, was the only salt production facility of its kind in Colorado and represents one of Colorado's earliest industrial enterprises.

  • Hartsel remains a ranching-focused town where along with the cattle, bison have become a favorite range animal, co-existing with deer, elk, and antelope on the open high plains.

  • Great Trout Fishing abounds in the Hartsel area including a handicapped access area.  It is located three miles north of Hartsel on County Road 439 and provides wheelchair access to the Middle Fork of the South Platte River.


  • Antero Reservoir - Northeast of US Hwy 285 and US Hwy 24 intersection south of Fairplay.  38 campsites; elevation 8,942 feet
  • Chaparral Park - 10 miles SE of Hartsel.  From US Hwy 24, turn right at CR-23 until it dead ends into CR-59.  Turn right going west toward Spinney Reservoir;  21 electric sites, 40 non-electric, no size restrictions, elevation 8,883 feet

Driving Tours

  • Zebulon Pike Route - You may follow Lt. Pike's journey by car or bike / hike on CO Hwy 9 east of Guffey following County Roads 102 and 59 to Eleven Mile State Park, and then northwest on County Road 23 to Hartsel.  From Hartsel, take US Hwy 24 / 285 over Trout Creek Pass to Johnson Village in Chaffee County.


  • Antero & 63 Ranch State Wildlife Area - Seasonally good fishing for wild browns up to 15 inches on the South Fork above Antero Reservoir.  Larger browns migrate upstream from Antero Reservoir during summer and fall.
  • Antero Reservoir - One of the most productive reservoirs in Colorado for large rainbow browns and cutbows.  Fishing is allowed from shore and small boats.  According to Colorado Parks & Wildlife, trout gain 1-2 pounds every year in this shallow lake.  Camping and picnicking facilities are provided on the south side.  Small boats and float tubes are allowed.  Antero is also a great place to view migratory water birds in the spring and early summer.
  • Lower Antero State Wildlife Area - Poor stream habitat improves with distance below Antero Dam.  Summer water temperatures and fishing quality are controlled by water releases from the Reservoir.  Ducks, herons, and other water birds frequent this section.
  • Lower Fourmile Creek - Part of Badger Basin State Wildlife Area, lower Fourmile Creek offers fair fishing for wild browns in a small stream near US Hwy 9, northwest of Hartsel.  A few larger browns migrate here to spawn in the fall.
  • Upper Spinney Mountain Ranch State Wildlife Area - This State Wildlife Area includes the historic Buckley Ranch.  Several access points to Gold Medal Water along County Road 59 between Hartsel and Spinney Mountain Reservoir.  Very good fishing with resident browns up to 18 inches.  Larger trout migrate upstream from the reservoir each spring and fall.
  • Spinney Mountain Reservoir - Seasonally excellent fishing for large trout and pike.  Fishing is allowed from shore, float tubes, and small boats.  Special regulations apply in this Gold Medal Water.  A State Parks pass or daily fee is required.
  • Badger Basin State Wildlife Area - Parking areas are provided along US Hwy 9, US Hwy 24, and County Road 59 near Hartsel.  This section of the South Fork is slow and shallow with a few deep pockets that hold fish.  Seasonally fair fishing for wild browns and stocked rainbows up to 15 inches, but the water often gets very low and warm during summer.
  • Charlie Meyers State Wildlife Area - Known locally as the "Dream Stream," this tail water fishery consistently produces large browns, rainbows, and cutbows.  This is catch-and-release Gold Medal Water and all fish must be released immediately.  Excellent river fishing above Eleven Mile Reservoir, but often crowded throughout the summer and on weekends.


  • James Mark Jones State Wildlife Area - The 17,429 acre James Mark Jones SWA spans a large portion of South Park north of Hartsel.  Hunting and wildlife viewing are allowed in accordance with state regulations, but no facilities are provided.  This SWA is closed to the public from January 1st to May 1st each year.
  • Antero, Spinney Mountain, and Eleven Mile Canyon Reservoirs - Seasonally excellent bird watching opportunities for migratory water birds, including ducks, geese, pelicans, herons, avocets, and ibis.  Access to Spinney Mountain and Eleven Mile Canyon Reservoirs requires a State Parks Pass.  Call the Eleven Mile Reservoir State Parks office for more information (719-748-3401).
  • Where the Buffalo & Antelope Roam - For centuries, large herds of Bison and Pronghorn (antelope) roamed the grasslands of South Park, but unregulated hunting in the late 1800s nearly eliminated these animals.  The last wild herd of bison in Colorado ranged in the Lost Park area northeast of Hartsel.  With proper management, pronghorn populations have been restored, but the bison are now limited to small herds on private ranches.  Look for the spectral rare white bison in the herds.


Trail # Trail Name Usage Length Environment Trail Features
FR-430/432 Bear Gulch MB, OHV 10 miles Forest, Meadow Diverse Two-Track Road
FT-631 McQuaid HK, MB, EQ 3 miles Forest, Meadow Rolling Terrain
FR-433 Pony Park Road MB, OHV 6 miles Forest, Meadow Two-Track Road
FT-618 Salt Creek HK, MB, EQ 8 miles Forest, Meadow Rolling Terrain


Route Number Key (Route numbers may differ on various maps)

CR = County Road (asphalt or gravel surface suitable for passenger vehicles)
FR = Forest Road (improved dirt roads, two-track roads, and high clearance 4WD roads)
FT = Forest Trail (single track trail, includes bother motorized and non-motorized vehicles)

Suggested Use Key - Suggested uses are based on user feedback and US forest Service Travel restrictions.  Road and Trail restrictions are subject to change over time.

SC = Seasonal Closure (generally between January 1st and early June of each year)
TH = Trailhead (parking area)
HK = Hiking
BP = Backpacking
MB = Mountain Biking
EQ = Equestrian or pack animal use
4WD = Highway-legal vehicles with high clearance and 4-wheel drive capability
OHV = Off-highway vehicles that are not highway legal (four-wheelers, ATVs, and dirt bikes)
MC = Motorcycles (dirt bikes)
PC = Passenger Cars
CG = Campground

Notice:  Many of the roads and trails described above are closed on a seasonal basis to protect wildlife.  Please respect all closures and stay on designated routes to prevent resource damage.