Elk NetworkMiddle Creek Public Access Project

Conservation , onX Public Access | May 4, 2018

A Magic Carpet Across Middle Creek

24 acres protected, 8,500 acres of access improved

It’s easy to spot Middle Creek on a land ownership map. It flows straight south from the Continental Divide into Colorado’s massive San Luis Valley before merging with Saguache Creek just upstream of its namesake town. Private land flanks both banks of Middle Creek for eight ruler-straight miles—a slender finger just a quarter-mile wide at most points, split by a gravel county road. 

Driving north you see a sprawling paradise of national forest and BLM lands just beyond that private land, growing ever sweeter as you go. But until recently all that most folks could do was stare longingly at that landscape until they reached a public trailhead at the road’s end. From there anyone hoping to hunt, hike or ride horseback in that grand country to the south—the aspen, sage, meadows and black timber of the Bear Creek Roadless Area—faced miles of steep backtracking.

But times are changing fast. RMEF just purchased a 24-acre parcel two miles south of the road’s end that will soon be owned by all Americans and in the stewardship of the BLM. That land will provide a new public access point to both sides of Middle Creek, opening the gate for people to fish for its native Rio Grande cutthroats and hunt for the elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep, pronghorns and upland birds that roam this area. 

The BLM approached RMEF after this property was listed for sale through Mossy Oak Properties, hoping the Elk Foundation could move quickly to broker its purchase and put it in public hands. Royce Carville,
the landowner, who lives to the west in Grand Junction, turned out to be a longtime RMEF member who was thrilled to hear the parcel his family had purchased as a fall elk camp would soon become a place that all could hunt from and otherwise enjoy. Bass Pro Shops, seeing its many benefits for sportsmen, contributed funds that helped make the purchase possible. 

BLM managers are now eyeing the parcel’s potential to host a parking area for the new access point, which is sure to attract hunters, anglers and other visitors to this quiet and game-filled sweep of prime public elk country.