We should all make plans for when we can travel again with friends and family–it’s good for our state of mind to plan our vacations now, when it seems like the walls are closing in–and in Rangely, there are wide-open spaces and new friends to meet!
If you drive your RV in, you can camp at several excellent campgrounds including Buck N Bull, Silver Sage, and Camper Park. After you’re settled, check out the only designated rock-crawling park in the state of Colorado. There, enjoy more than 560 acres of natural terrain specifically designed for four-wheeling in the OHV of your choice—roll bars and cages are not optional for some of these trails. You can see wild horses along one of the trails; and all of them showcase the high desert beauty of Rangely.
Surrounded by 1.5 million acres of public lands and averaging 300 days of sunshine, getting outdoors has never been more accessible than it is in Rangely. Whether you enjoy motorized, non-motorized, water sports, fishing, hunting, camping, hiking, horseback riding or anything outdoors, Rangely has year-round offerings minutes from glorious campsites, friendly motels and fun VRBOs or AirBnBs with highly rated hosts!
Just outside this peaceful town is Canyon Pintado National Historic District which encompasses over 16,000 acres of public land. In Canyon Pintado, you can hike solo or take guided tours to Fremont and Ute Native American Tribe Rock Art sites dating back over 1,000 years. Minutes from town you can observe the magnificent Piceance/East Douglas wild horse herd and, if you are lucky, you may catch a glimpse of more elusive wildlife like black bears, bobcats, or mountain lions! We’ve listed a few of our favorite trails, below, but there are so many more to explore. The high desert air and sunshine will help you recover from the days indoors and the distressing chaos of these difficult times.
1. Camel Ridge Site
Level of Difficulty: Moderate Milepost 70.5 (SH139) (40o 4.0908’N, 108o 46.2978’W)
On highway 139 right outside of town, you can pull off at the sign–the art panels are about 250 yards away on the north-facing cliffs just above the road and depict a camel-like figure, anthropomorphic shapes, and abstracts. Carved tracks are located at waist level on the east facing cliff and the carrot men are a short hike away (see Hoodoo Site, below).
2. Lookout Point Site
Level of Difficulty: Easy Milepost 67.6 (SH139) (40o1.7958’N,108o 46.2792’W) T
This may have been a watchtower and is located on the ridgeline north of the pullout and may have served as part of an early warning system. The walk to the site is not difficult and provides an excellent vantage point to survey the valley. Stroll the area to wonder at the mysterious drilled holes in the caprice (no one knows what they are for!) and Bureau of Land Management historical and cultural information on several interpretive panels interspersed among the tremendous vistas and warm cliffside seating areas set up for stunning Instagram photos with your friends and dogs.
3. Hoodoo Site
Level of Difficulty: Easy
Milepost 63.2 (SH139) (39o 58.1292’N, 108o 46.4958’W)
Pull off in the wide turnout to the right below the two hoodoos on the hilltop on the west side of the highway. The rock art panel is through the fence and along a path to the south where a rough fenced enclosure protects the panel from livestock. Tapering “Carrot Man” figures are depicted here, which will awe your family–these were carved hundreds of years ago and are still here as wonderful artwork for us all to enjoy!
2. The ROAR off-road rally revs up
The team getting ready for the rally is working on ways the event can happen while maintaining social distance rules and staying true to any state rules for traveling in the state. The decision has not been made to cancel at this time, but updates will be posted on the Rangely FB page or on the Rangely OHV Adventure Rally page You can also contact the Rangely Chamber.
If all goes well, on April 30, you’re going to have access to more off-road terrain than almost anywhere in Colorado. You will also get a free ticket to a down-home shrimp boil and the best time you’ve ever had in Rangely, the country-friendly OHV destination for Jeeps and other four-wheelers. The Rangely OHV Adventure Rally lets OHVs deep into the backcountry to get all the air-time they could ever want. For the uninitiated, OHVs describe any vehicle, from 2-8 wheels or tracks, that can take the trails and are designed to operate on unpaved surfaces. All or part of this operation is conducted on Public Lands under special permit from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management–a rare opportunity to explore public lands on ATVs or other off-road vehicles to your heart’s content.
What’s included in a ROAR registration?
After you’re settled, check out the only designated rock-crawling park in the state of Colorado. There, enjoy more than 560 acres of natural terrain specifically designed for four-wheeling in the OHV of your choice—roll bars and cages are not optional for some of these trails. You can see wild horses along one of the trails; and all of them showcase the high desert beauty of Rangely.
The ROAR—Rangely Off-Highway-Vehicle (OHV) Adventure Rally welcomes OHV enthusiasts from all over the region and beyond to ride the Wagon Wheel West OHV trails, some of which are named evocatively, like “Chase Draw” and “Texas Mountain.” So, fasten those chin straps and get revved up for the mountain west’s best time driving out of bounds. And be sure to plan your awesome Colorado day trip for before and after the rally–see our suggestions in this article or visit Rangely for more.
3. Rangely Outdoor Museum: Fun facts
For the morning hours during a Colorado day trip that will educate without boring your kids, visit the Rangely Outdoor Museum. This fascinating museum boasts exhibits featuring native peoples and pioneers; will help them learn about the travails of historic ranching and how the ranchers’ life has changed over the centuries; and allow everyone in the family to catch their breath and spend some time together expanding their knowledge of the region that Rangely families are so proud of inhabiting.
Kids will marvel at colorful geology and paleontology exhibits; make lists of the native flora and fauna they want to see during their time in town and while exploring the areas all around; and brag about their new knowledge of the energy industry that flourishes in the region.
You’ll find the Rangely Outdoor Museum near the intersection of Highway 64 and Kennedy Drive. Or plug into your GPS: Rangely Outdoor Museum 200 Kennedy Drive Rangely, CO 81648. Call for hours or to be sure they’re opening on schedule this spring at (970) 675-2612.
4. Harpers Corner
Located on the Colorado side of Dinosaur National Monument, Harpers Corner Road is a scenic, 32-mile (55-km) drive leading to the heart of Dinosaur National Monument’s canyon country. Located on the southeast flank of the Uinta Mountains on the border between Colorado and Utah, this gorgeous park welcomes visitors at the confluence of the Green and Yampa Rivers in Moffat County, Colorado.
Linger at its delightful picnic areas at the trailheads of three hiking trails just off Harpers Corner Drive. On one trail, sharp-eyed hikers can spot fossils of small sea creatures that lived long ago. Visitors prepared for remote driving conditions can access two unimproved roads from Harpers Corner Drive and everyone can enjoy the soothing riverbanks and adjacent rock formations, art work and hiking trails. Note well–there aren’t any fuel, food, or other services along Harpers Corner Drive, with the closest food and fuel in Dinosaur, Colorado, two miles east of the Canyon Area Visitor Center on Highway 40.
During the COVID-19 outbreak, the outdoor areas of the monument remained open for hiking and other recreation as long as hikers and others maintained social distance of at least 6 feet and did not gather in groups larger than 10 people. As soon as the go-ahead is given, the National Parks Service will reopen the Center.
Make sure you dress in layers for this Colorado day trip: Even in the summer, the website for DNM wants you to know you may still encounter some snow! “Except for shaded areas, most lower elevations in the monument are snow free.” In spring, they recommend we do not travel on unpaved roads that are wet or snow covered and that we check the weather before heading out to explore, always leaving our plans and itineraries with someone back home.
DNM Canyon Visitor Center
(15.4 miles from SH64) (40°32′N 108°59′W) Two miles east of Dinosaur, Colorado, this fascinating visitor center offers amazing information and souvenirs from the Intermountain Natural History Association, supporting their work in ensuring these attractions are preserved for many years to come. There is also a film during high-season in the spring and summer that will thrill you with vistas and stories about DNM and the giant creatures who once roamed its canyons and once-verdant valleys. Call for showtimes and opening dates in late spring through the early autumn months. (970) 374-3000
5. Boating and water sports
Kenney Reservoir is another fun and splashy way to spend time inland around Rangely with the family. Drive up to the east side of the reservoir and enter the water via a convenient concrete boat ramp or fiberglass dock. If you’re kayaking, watch out for floating logs and other debris –everyone in the water should keep an eye out for floating or partially submerged objects as well as shallow areas.
You can also plan a gentle canoe trip on the White River by downloading the river guide at the Town of Rangely site.
This historic waterway is perfect for family trips–make sure you spend time studying where you can enter public lands that access the river and print out several maps. The guide and maps are also available in waterproof versions once you get to Rangely.
If you want an unforgettable Colorado day trip, once you get to Rangely, you have so many options just minutes away. Whether it’s petroglyphs (rock art), hiking, history, off-roading, mountain biking or simply taking a stroll, Rangely’s got the scenery, the scintillating activities and the sweet life outdoors for every level of adventurer in your family.
Call the Chamber or email with any questions about any of these amazing Colorado day trips–all with Rangely at their center –for summer fun. Until then, do your exploring online to plan your trip as soon as you can get out and about. Our Rangely family is eagerly awaiting your family–we’re here to help you have a rip-roaring time in Rangely, Colorado’s gem of the desert mountains!