Rocky Mountain Region Viewing Area
LOCATION and PHOTOS
Heartleaf arnica. Photo by Al Schneider, Southwest Colorado Wildflowers, USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database.
Colorado blue columbine. Photo by Al Schneider, Southwest Colorado Wildflowers, USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database.
Forest: White River National Forest
District: Blanco Ranger District
Description: Visit Clark Ridge in July and it will be ablaze with color -- from the blues of lupine (Lupinus sp.) on the open slopes and Colorado columbine (Aquilegia caerulea) in the shade of the aspen to the yellows of heartleaf arnica (Arnica cordifolia) and tall groundsel (Senecio serra). On a clear summer day, views of the mountains to the south are remarkable. Clark Ridge is a broad, open ridge, trending north and south. While grassland dominates the top, forb communities (with the attendant wildflower display) typically inhabit the gradual slopes before the topography changes to steep hillsides toward the canyon bottoms. There are aspen stands in the draws and swales on the sides of the ridge and sometimes in low depressions on top as moisture levels allow.
White River National Forest maps are available from any district office for a small fee. Most offices also carry 7.5 min USGS topo maps which cover broad areas accurately.
Safety First: See Be Safe! on the White River National Forest's website.
Directions: Arriving in Rifle, Colorado, from either direction on Interstate 70, proceed north on Colorado State Road 13. Turn right on State Road CO 325 heading towards Rifle Gap Reservoir. At the intersection at the reservoir, continue east on CO 325. This road becomes Garfield County Road CO 217, and you will pass through Rifle Falls State Recreation Area. Passing the Blue Spruce Picnic Area, you will enter the National Forest on Forest Road (FR) 832, Rifle Ranger District. After about two miles, take the right fork up Little Box Canyon on FR 825. After about four miles, you will come to Triangle Park (the road becomes FR 245 at the Blanco Ranger District Boundary). Go through Triangle Park, staying on FR 245 heading east about 2.5 miles (FR 245 forms the boundary between the two districts in this area). Just before FR 245 takes a sharp bend to the north, take the Clark Ridge Road south. This road will dead-end further down Clark Ridge about three miles.
Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service, White River National Forest, Blanco Ranger District (970) 878-4039.
Closest Town: Rifle, Colorado.