North Park is a high, sparsely populated basin (approximately 8,800 feet (2,700 m) in elevation) in the Rocky Mountains in north central Colorado in the United States. It encompasses a wide valley in Jackson County rimmed by mountain ranges at the headwaters of the North Platte River and several smaller tributaries, including the Michigan River, Illinois River, and Canadian River. The valley receives its name from being the northernmost of the three large mountain valleys (or parks) in Colorado on the western side of the Front Range. The others are Middle Park and South Park respectively.
The basin opens out northward into Wyoming, in the direction of flow of the North Platte. On the east side, it is rimmed by the Medicine Bow Mountains, the Never Summer Mountains and Rabbit Ears Range to the south, and the Park Range to the west. The continental divide rims the Park along the south and west. The valley along the Illinois River is the location of the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge.
The largest community in the valley is Walden, the Jackson County seat, that sits near the middle of the valley near the confluence of the Michigan and Illinois rivers. Smaller communities in the valley include the unincorporated hamlets of Gould and Rand.
Cattle and Timber
The primary economic activities in the valley are cattle ranching and timber harvesting, although the latter has declined substantially in recent decades. In the 1940s, wolves were nearly extirpated from the conterminous United States. Wolves were reintroduced in the northern Rocky Mountains in the 1990s and since at least 2014, solitary wolves have entered Colorado. Wolves have migrated in from Wyoming and in 2021, a pack began killing cattle.
The valley is crossed east-west by State Highway 14, which enters from the east over Cameron Pass, providing a link to the Poudre Canyon and Fort Collins. Highway 14 enters from the west over Muddy Pass which provides access to Steamboat Springs, and to Middle Park in the valley of the Colorado River. It is crossed north-south by State Highway 125, which enters from the north (from Wyoming) along the course of the North Platte. It enters from the south over Willow Creek Pass, providing access to the upper end of Middle Park near Granby.
Source: North Park (Colorado Basin) from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.