Boulder County Colorado Day Trip – Boulder Canyon, Rock Climbing, Caribou Ranch & Nederlands

Colorado Martini staying in front of Mud Lake in Boulder County Colorado in Caribou Ranch Open Space area. She is wearing a straw hat and black sunglasses. Her brown hair is in a braid. Rocky Mountains in the background.
Having a picnic at Mud Lake at Boulder County Caribou Ranch area in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.

Come with us on a day trip up to Boulder Canyon, Nederlands, Mud Lakes and Caribou Ranch. These areas are just above Boulder, Colorado. And just west of Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. On the way we will show you where to find rock climbers, picnic spots, and hiking trails. We will even show you where to find the now defunct famous Caribou Ranch Recording Studio.

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The National Cemetery at the entrance of Little Bighorn National Memorial

Castle Rock Climbing Area

In Boulder Canyon there is a turnout loop road where you can usually find rock climbers to watch. The Castle Rock area sits right on Boulder Creek. It is a beautiful area to sit, picnic, photograph climbers and fishermen, and watch the raging water go by. And yeah the fishing is fabulous and easily accessed. You might be able to access fishing from a wheelchair at the bridge or road. You can also find porta potties.

The Castle Rock day use area is about 13 miles up Boulder Canyon from Boulder. The prominent formation is known as Castle Rock. It is a lone rock formation that stands independently from the canyon walls. The area is on the south side of Boulder Canyon Drive. And can be missed if not looking.

The area is easily accessed by cars. There are two bridges that cross the Boulder Creek that allow you to access the area. The road is dirt and wraps around the south side of the Castle Rock formation.

Boulder waterfalls. Close up to the water coming down from the rock cliff in Boulder Canyon in Colorado. This is just outside of Boulder, Colorado
Boulder Falls in Boulder Canyon, Colorado

Learn more in our video: Boulder County Colorado Day Trip – Boulder Canyon, Rock Climbing, Caribou Ranch & Nederlands

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The Castle Rock Bridges of Boulder Canyon

The two bridges within the recreation area have a past and interesting story to tell. Prospectors who came to Colorado during the gold rush of 1859, blazed trails up the placer-rich mountain canyons. These paths eventually became the basis of the mountain roads. In 1871, one of these trails became Boulder Canyon Road. The road later extended to the now ghost town of Caribou. Caribou was the site of a large silver strike. The original road had 33 total creek crossings. In 1887, Boulder Country was responsible for maintaining the road.

In 1914, the first major construction on the road began on Boulder Canyon Road. The labor was done by convicts from Cañon City. During that summer, there was a destructive flood. But they still managed to reach Castle Rock by 1917. The existing bridges were replaced and the road was completed by 1919.

Old bridge at the Castle Rock Climbing area in Boulder Creek in Boulder Canyon Colorado. The bridge is over a small running creek with rocks and hillside in background
Original 1917 bridge over Boulder Creek in Boulder Canyon Colorado’s Castle Rock climbing area

Over the years the road is continually bombarded by rockslides and creek washouts. Due to this, in 1947, they were forced to do some significant rerouting of the road.  At that time the road was moved from the south side of Castle Rock to the north side. And the two bridges were abandoning. Other similar bridges eliminated by rerouting. By 1955 only three of the original 33 creek crossings on the Boulder Canyon Road remained.

The two bridges of Castle Rock still stand today. They are great historical examples early construction of the highway and the use of convict crews.

Boulder Creek running through Castle Rock Climbing Area in Boulder Canyon Colorado. Water running over rocks. Surrounded by wild grass and pine trees.
Boulder Creek going through the Castle Rock Climbing area in Boulder Canyon Colorado

Directions

From the west side of Boulder, Colorado; travel west on Canyon Drive. You will be traveling toward the town of Nederland, Colorado. Canyon Drive will turn into Boulder Canyon Drive (aka: Colorado State Highway 119) as you enter the canyon.  Drive about 13 miles up the canyon. Until you reach the coordinates below.

Sits at 7900 feet / 2407.92 meters in altitude

To the upper road. Which I recommend entering from: Lat/Long: 39°58’44.7″N 105°27’21.1″W /Click Here to see map

GPS: 39.979078, -105.455863 /Click Here to see map

Do not miss watching our video on the area:
Boulder County Colorado Day Trip – Boulder Canyon, Rock Climbing, Caribou Ranch & Nederlands

Mud Lake in Caribou Ranch Area

Mud Lake is a beautiful small lake just outside of Nederlands, Colorado. It is a perfect place to have a picnic. Or catch a picture of moose.

Mudd Lake in Caribou Ranch area of Boulder County, Colorado

There are multi-use trails all around the lake. Where you can hike, bike, or run. This is a day use area. And there is no overnight camping. You will find clean bathrooms and several picnic tables. Along with a large picnic shelter. There are some stairs you will need to go up. But you they are cascading and not difficult. You can get to the lake from a trail without stairs. There is a flat easy trail that in encircles the lake.

GPS: 39.9776, -105.50972: Click Here to see map
2034 Co Rd 126, Nederland, CO 80466

Do not miss watching our video on the area:
Boulder County Colorado Day Trip – Boulder Canyon, Rock Climbing, Caribou Ranch & Nederlands

Sign showing hiking trails at Mud Lake in Boulder County, Colorado Open Spaces
Sign showing hiking trails at Mud Lake in Boulder County, Colorado Open Spaces

See more in our video: Click Here to watch video

Caribou Ranch Music Studio

In our video we will show you where to find the now defunct famous Caribou Ranch Recording Studio. Where famous musicians once wrote and recorded their albums. Such as Elton John, Billy Joel, Chicago, Steven Stills, Michael Jackson and more. Looking at old album covers from the 70’s and early 80’s. You will notice that many have snow and mountain scenes. This was most likely Caribou Ranch.

►Silver Point Dr, Nederland, Colorado and Peak to Peak Hwy (aka Hwy Colorado-72)

►GPS: 39.98872, -105.49845 /Click Here to see map

►8254 Feet / 2515.81 Meter in altitude.

►Do not miss watching our video on the area:
Boulder County Colorado Day Trip – Boulder Canyon, Rock Climbing, Caribou Ranch & Nederlands

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Boulder County Colorado Day Trip – Boulder Canyon, Rock Climbing, Caribou Ranch & Nederlands

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