Moffat County, located in the northwest corner of Colorado, lies midway between Denver, Colorado, and Salt Lake City, Utah. Grand Junction is 150 miles south of Craig, and the Wyoming border is less than an hour’s drive to the north. Visitors and local businesses use the Yampa Valley Airport, a mere 20 miles from Craig, to commute to Denver for direct flights to major cities and for connections to overseas destinations. The Moffat railroad provides transportation for locally mined coal, which is shipped throughout the United States.
Agriculture and mining are a vital part of the local economy; oil, natural gas, coal, and other minerals abound. Energy producers have joined the historical ranching and agricultural economy and are now the largest group of Moffat County employers. Northwest Colorado welcomes relocating businesses and new industries. The Chamber of Commerce is the primary information center, providing comprehensive information for businesses and individuals interested in visiting or relocating to the area. Business training and start-up services are provided by Colorado Northwestern Community College, a member of the state community college system.
Recreation activities abound for those in Northwest Colorado. Elkhead Reservoir, minutes from town, is a favorite destination for water skiing, fishing, swimming, and after-work picnics. A movie theatre, a skateboard park and a bowling alley are located in Craig. Locals ice-skate at the Olympic-sized rink, walk and bike nature trails, and attend baseball games at the Loudy-Simpson Park Recreation Complex. Developed parks totaling 120 acres are within walking distance from Craig. Swimming and wave pools, basketball, tennis, and volleyball courts are located in the centralized city park. Racquetball courts and a climbing wall are housed in the Trapper Fitness Center. Youth and adults play baseball, soccer, volleyball, football, and basketball organized by the City of Craig Parks and Recreation Department. Youngsters raise animals of all kinds and learn vocational skills and crafts through 4-H and FFA. Visitors and locals frequent the beautiful 18 hole, Yampa Valley Golf Course, not only to golf, but to dine and view resident bald eagles and other wildlife. Rafting, fly-fishing, and fishing for pike, trout, and catfish abound. This region has attracted hunters for elk, deer, antelope, bear, and mountain lion. Fun in the snow includes sledding, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and snow shoeing. World class downhill skiing is available at Steamboat Springs, 45 miles east of Craig. Dinosaur National Monument, Routt National Forest, and vast Bureau of Land Management acreage provide campers, hikers, photographers, and day-trippers access to wilderness, wild horses, scenic landscapes, and pre-historic dinosaurs.
One of the world’s outstanding collections of Western Americana is housed in the Museum of Northwest Colorado. The museum facilitates the preservation of historical structures and artifacts, education of citizens, and sponsorship of individuals and groups interested in family and historical research. Cowboy gear dating to the early 1800’s includes guns, gun leather, chaps, spurs, saddles, and other accoutrements. Parts of the collection have been featured in numerous publications, including “Cowboy and Gunfighter Collectibles.” Global visitors, school children, and community members view an array of displays depicting the reality of western life in Moffat County. Museum staff members, including senior citizens from the Yampa Valley, are on hand to provide visitors with information and personal accounts of local history.
The Ute Indians were the last Native American tribe inhabiting the Yampa Valley before settlers moved into the area in the 1800’s. Earlier tribes left records of their existence with petroglyphs in various sites. Cattle and sheep men carved out their niche, leaving a colorful western history complete with range wars and gunfights. Grand Old West Days (Memorial Day Weekend), Whittle the Wood Rendevouz (June), Little Britches Rodeo (4th of July Weekend), and Ride-n-Tie Rodeo, continue to pass on these old west traditions to community members and visitors to Craig.
Wide-open spaces are a thing of the present in Moffat County. From Black Mountain’s golden aspens to rugged canyons in legendary Browns Park, the region offers diversity in landscape and is home to some of the largest deer and elk herds in North America. The Yampa and Snake River valleys, mountains, and high plains desert cover an area 93 miles long and 52 miles wide, bordering Wyoming and Utah. Newcomers and visitors to Northwest Colorado enjoy western hospitality and a friendly way of life. Moffat County is a lifetime experience, a great place to grow-up and be a grown-up!