The Sandhill cranes return to Red Creek in April, their gobbling cries our first sign of spring. As the skies brighten above the melting snow, the pronghorn antelope take possession once more of their summer grazing territory. (They hardly notice the cars any more.) The human denizens of this swath of meadow and forest come and go as well, according to the rhythms of their lives, some for weekends and holidays, some for a season, some full-time.
Red Creek is located on 980 acres in northern Routt County, Colorado, at an altitude of 8300 feet. The 38 lots lie along a ridge with inspiring year-round views. Twenty-two homes have been completed thus far.
Each property owner in Red Creek brings a unique vision of how to appreciate the blessings bestowed on our ridge, overlooking Steamboat Lake, Willow Creek and the Zirkel Wilderness, and overlooked in turn by Sand Mountain and Hahn's Peak. The dry climate, abundant sunshine, and year-round road access tempt us to spend every possible minute outdoors. Horseback riding, fishing, rowing, and hiking are favorite summer pursuits. Skiing, snowshoeing, ice-fishing, and snowmobiling dominate the winter days. Watching the wildlife is a year-round pleasure: deer, elk and antelope, and the occasional bear, share their forest haunts. Hawks and eagles soar above the lake and trees. Closer to the ground, raccoons, coyotes, foxes, marmots, ermines and squirrels make their homes all around us, unseen if not unheard. Clear skies permit star-gazing year-round.
Some come to Red Creek to escape city life, reveling in the beauty and stillness of the forest. Others roll to a stop at the end of long careers, and take pleasure in entertaining friends and family throughout the cycle of seasons. Some leave the surrounding forest untouched, others plant, landscape and fence small areas. However our visions direct us, the forest has room for all.
During 2009, major logging operations removed some 15,000 lodgepole pine trees destroyed by the Mountain Pine Beetle. The standing dead had posed both a fire and falling tree hazard. The forest is now clean and open, with aspen, fir, spruce, and the many remaining lodgepole pines the dominant species.