Take a Day Trip From the Frisco Lodge: Park County, Colorado
Posted by: admin August 20th, 2015
Approximately 30 miles to the south, and a 40-minute drive from our Frisco bed & breakfast, lies the vibrant and beautiful towns of Alma and Fairplay in the region of South Park, Colorado. No, I am not talking about the crude and politically incorrect characters of the Comedy Central hit cartoon South Park, but rather what was most likely the inspiration for Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s fictional town of South Park. These two famed towns are much more than the vision of these two creators, however, as the real South Park encompasses all that is Colorado as a magical destination for those seeking pure Colorado beauty.
The first town you will hit after traversing Hoosier Pass is the highest incorporated town in North America, the town of Alma, Colorado (10,578 feet) in the northwest corner of Park County. Founded in 1873, and once serving as the ore-processing center of South Park, Alma once numbered 900 residents, a far cry from today’s population of 275. Many old mining claims still traverse the mountain sides that, in the height of their heyday, produced over $1,500,000 in minerals annually. Today, however, there are many great things to see and do, including the five 14ers that rise above the town. The Bristlecone Pine Scenic Area in Alma might just be one of the most interesting spectacles in South Park with its barren bluff overlooking the valley and its 2,000-year-old pine trees that are tilted and gnarled into a grotesque beauty by the winds. A visit there and you might be able to relate to the Spanish definition of alma, meaning soul.
There are many other great things to see and do in Alma as well, including hiking, biking, ghost-hunting, fly fishing on the Middle Fork of the South Platte River and angling at Montgomery Reservoir to name just a few. Must-sees include the 12,400-foot Kite Lake, touring the ghost town of Buckskin Joe and a four-wheel drive above Alma on the highest motor vehicle pass in North America – Mosquito Pass.
Continue driving south for approximately 5 miles and you will find yourself in the old mining town of Fairplay. Established in 1859 at the junction of Beaver Creek and the South Platte River, the town of Fair Play was rechristened as South Park City in 1869 and then changed back to Fairplay (one word) in 1874. Though, once the mining industry faded, tourism, cattle-raising and hay-growing became the economic mainstays of the area and established Fairplay as the center of commerce for Park County with a blossoming business community and vibrant arts scene.
Besides all of the obvious outdoor recreation opportunities that this “Fly Fishing Capital of Colorado” has to offer (skiing, ice climbing, snowmobiling & snowshoeing in winter; hiking, fishing, mountain biking, horseback riding, camping, rock climbing, ATVing, off-roading in summer), Fairplay also has many dining opportunities, wine-tasting and other fun and colorful events, local art galleries and shopping for the less adventurous types.
But, one of this historic town’s claims to fame is the notable South Park City Museum with its collection of over 40 historic original buildings and its 60,000 artifacts that encompass this fictional 1888 mining town of South Park City. Created in the late 1950s by a group of citizens concerned about the dismantling of Fairplay’s history, the buildings were brought in from the high gulches of the Mosquito Range and other mining towns of the area to create this old mining town. From the characteristic frontier home to an 1800s dental office, South Park City is a realistic look back at the history of the area and the early days of life in the Rocky Mountains in general.