Thursday, July 20, 2006

Flat Tops Trail Scenic Byway

For our third of four scenic byways to evaluate the accessibility of for Colorado Scenic Byways, we visited the Flat Tops Trail, just barely southwest of Steamboat, and the shortest of our evaluations in total. Unlike the other three on our list, this byway is mostly scenery and four-wheel driving, with only a few very small towns to assess, making Mountain Girl, our rugged Toyota Tacoma, a must for the driving on this trip! Anytime we can get Mountain Girl full of dirt and mud-slinging, we're happy.

The trip follows an old trapper road from Yampa to Meeker, along one of the more scenic roads in the northwestern and somewhat flatter territory of Colorado. Only 82 miles total, this slow road meanders through the White River National Forest, an area abundant in history as well as animals, water, and scenic views. Beautiful in scenery and small historic towns, we found this byway to be quite accessible, even though the two towns of Yampa and Meeker are very small and without many modern renovations.

There is a wonderful cabin complex in Yampa we'd highly recommend, Van Camp Cabins (303 Rich, Yampa, 970-638-4254), that have a huge communal bathhouse that's fully accessible with showers, stalls, a hottub and sauna as well. The cabins have one step up to them, but the owners have a portable ramp they put out when guests with special needs visit.

To our pleasant surprise, Meeker had several options for accessible lodging, including the Valley Motel, the Valley View Motel, and the White River Inn. The most historic, Meeker Hotel (1896) does have two rooms on their ground floor, but with 19" bathrooms, wheelchair-users should find another option.

Don't miss the view from the top of this magnicifent pass! Camping at the top is also accessible; we saw plenty of wildlife up there!

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