Black Mountain (Elkhead Mountains)
Aliases: Elkhead Mountains, Freeman Reservoir
The Elkhead Mountains rise like a dark hulk out of the flatlands north of Craig, providing a welcome bit of coolness during the hot summer months and a way to escape the dry sage flats into dense forest. The main road through the mountains, Moffat CR 27, starts out in sage flats (with species such as Sage Thrasher, Greater Sage-Grouse, Brewer’s Sparrow, and Common Poorwill) and rises up into aspen and coniferous forests (with the likes of Red-naped Sapsucker, Violet-green Swallow, Warbling Vireo, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and more). As it gets higher, spruce-fir forest starts, and this area can be good for Pine Grosbeak, Gray and Steller’s Jays, American Three-toed Woodpecker, and Golden-crowned Kinglet. At night, listen for Northern Saw-whet and Flammulated Owls. The whole area is excellent for butterflies, including species not easily found elsewhere in the state, such as Hydaspe Fritillary.
Habitat: Mixed-Conifer Forest, Spruce-Fir Forest, Sagebrush, Aspen Grove, Foothill Shrub
Directions: Black Mountain is reached by traveling about 11 miles north of Craig on Highway 13 and then turning right onto CR 27. CR 27 travels through ranch land and then begins gaining elevation through mountain brush habitat and then gets into aspen habitat shortly before reaching the Routt National Forest boundary. The road changes to FR 110 at the forest boundary. Most of land outside the forest boundary is private so take appropriate precautions. Once inside the national forest there are several two track forest roads that can be explored and a primitive campground is available. FR 110 continues into Routt County and it is possible to make a loop southeast to Hayden or north into the Baggs, Wyoming area.
Delorme: 15 B6
Roads of Colorado: 36 A1
Dates of Access: Closed during the winter months
Ownership: US Forest Service
Parking: Roadside and gravel parking areas
Handicapped Access: Limited car birding