Caribou Ranch Open Space

Boulder County Open Space

Nestled in the hills above Nederland is a true treasure, the Caribou Ranch Open Space recreational area.  It is accessible to hikers, horseback riders and trail runners.  Mountain biking is not allowed, which is nice for hikers.  You needn’t worry about a cyclist zipping by.  Alas, no dogs allowed either.

realtor bob gordon
Realtor Bob Gordon with Re/Max Alliance at the beginning of the hike in Caribou Ranch Open Space

My wife and I visited the trail over the 4th of July.  We had an amazing adventure and the photos are from our hike.   I would describe the terrain as easy to moderate.  It is mostly flat in nature, even when you are changing altitude.  There is a spur hike I will describe that is very worthwhile.  The views are stunning in the Caribou Ranch open space and the hike offers a great variety of scenery. 

Caribou Ranch Open Space
Caribou Ranch Open Space Peek-a-boo views


Caribou Ranch Open Space Services

There is a 25 car parking lot at Caribou Ranch with designated disabled spots.  A restroom is onsite with His and Hers.  There are a few picnic tables scattered about.  Boulder County provides information including trail maps.   The day we hiked we parked a short ways up the county road, which seemed okay.

Caribou Ranch Open Space maps
Caribou Ranch Open Space maps


Blue Bird Loop

Two trails plus a side excursion at this awesome hiking location.  The 1.2 mile out and back DeLonde Trail goes from the parking lot at Caribou Ranch to the 1.8 mile Blue Bird Loop.  Follow the loop and you will have an opportunity to hike into a historic mine complex and see a waterfall.  The sign for the mine area says one tenth of a mile, but it certainly seemed like more than that.

blue bird silver mine
The old silver mine on Blue Bird Loop Spur

The miner’s camp is worthwhile. An array of old buildings and aged tracks leading into a mine shaft.  We grabbed some fun photographs in this area.  We also relaxed near the river, an ideal spot to pull your shoes off and soak your toes. But use caution: the river runs incredibly fast at this location.  There is a picnic table as well, so great place to plan for a snack.  All in all, this was one of our favorite parts of our day in the Caribou Ranch open space park.

Beautiful Boulder Trail

You will experience a wide variety of gorgeous landscapes, endless vistas and ever changing trail.  The initial hike is a winding path through light forest with peek-a-boo views.  Then, the loop is around a gorgeous prairie with a beautiful red barn and old homestead.  Along the backside, you’ll enter a pine tree forest with delicious scents of vanilla.  There are several scenic vista areas and opportunities to get close to a raging river that we frequently heard but didn’t see from the trail. 

the hatch
Keep your eyes open on the trail. we saw wild flowers, great views and this hatch leading into the ground


Recent Caribou History

The open space area was created in a sale from the nearby Caribou Ranch Recording Studio.  A wild variety of famous musicians recorded music at the studio.  Security on horseback fiercely protected the privacy of the rock stars who came from all over to record amazing records.  Boulder secured the open space and the recording studio guests were still able to access the trails. It was a win for everyone. Most recently, the studio fell out of popularity and the nearby property was sold for a record thirty two million dollars.  Read more here.

boulder parks and rec employee
We bumped into a Boulder County Parks and Rec employee. Her job is to hike around all day long. Sounds like an ideal career


1 thought on “Caribou Ranch Open Space”

  1. To be accurate, there was a devastating fire in the recording studio in 1985, forcing the closure of the facility and ending the 11 year run of producing some of the best albums of the era. There are many stories to be found by people that worked at the facility during that time, such as Tom Likes, a production engineer. Also, there were two prime time music specials, featuring Chicago, that were recorded at the Ranch. Videos can be found on YouTube.

    I wish I could have been around for that period of time…. John Lennon, Elton John, Three Dog Night, Chicago, Earth Wind & Fire, Supertramp, Joe Walsh, Dan Fogelberg, Beach Boys… just to name a few.

    The history is fascinating if you grew up in the 70’s, listening to music.

    I hope to hike there soon… I live in Kansas City, but have family in Denver. One of these days!


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