If you have ever been anywhere along Colorado’s Front Range west of I25, there is a good chance you have spent time driving along the Rampart Range Road…
Rampart Range Road has always ranked as one of the most scenic “off-the-beaten track drives” in Colorado. Traversing the crest of the Rampart Range for almost sixty miles between Colorado Springs and Sedalia, this gravel based mountain road winds its way through portions of El Paso, Teller and Douglas counties, Colorado, USA.
The recent Waldo Canyon Fire not only scorched a large portion of Colorado’ s Rampart Range but has resulted in the closure of a well traveled section of the Rampart Range Road between Colorado Springs and Woodland Park, Colorado.
So let’s take a closer look at Rampart Range Road – Before and After the Waldo Canyon Fire.
Rampart Range consists almost entirely of public land within the Pike National Forest. Devil’s Head, the highest peak in the Rampart Range, reaches 9,632 ft. (2936m).
The Rampart Range Road Then
Rampart Range Road, which forms a portion of the western boundary of the Rampart East Roadless Area, was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps under the direction of Everard S. Keithley, during the 1930s. Mr. Kiethley was the Supervisor of the Pike National Forest for 24 years and is credited with supervising the planting of 30,000,000 evergreen trees in the Pikes Peak region including Mt. Herman and the South Platte watershed.
As you watch the time lapse video posted below you will see many of the trees planted under Mr. Kiethley’s supervision in the 1930’s. Sadly, as a result of the recent Waldo Canyon Fire, most of the trees you are about to see in this video are now burnt dead and dying.
Click the image below to watch Rampart Range Road Timelapse Drive
Traveling along the Rampart Range Road you will pass Devil’s Head, a massive rock outcropping, on which ironically was located the last remain manned fire lookout tower in Colorado. As early as 1869, Devil’s Head was noted on a map resulting from the Ferdinand V. Hayden expedition of Colorado and New Mexico. The rock formation that the tower sits on resembles the profile of a head, hence the peak came to be called Devil’s Head.
Where there is smoke…
Due to the unique structure of the rocks, Devil’s Head was a natural promontory for sighting fires, and was used often by local residents for spotting smoke. In 1907, the 2-year-old U.S. Forest Service planned a series of seven fire lookout stations spanning the front range of the Rockies from New Mexico to Wyoming, of which Devil’s Head was one.
In 1912, the first lookout station was established on Devil’s Head and consisted of a table with a fire-finder bolted to a rock 30 feet east of the present tower. A small log shelter was constructed near the fire-finder where a telephone was located and the lookout could go in case of a storm. The earliest lookouts ascended the peak from a trail originating south of the mountain near Watson Park. The present-day trail originates on the north side in the Devil’s Head Campground.
Colorado’s Rampart Range Road Now – After The Waldo Canyon Fire
The devastation here is just awful…you look at the ground, you look at the trees, it’s like a moonscape… ~T Giem
Below is a series of 3 videos recorded by Ted Giem, owner/operator Rusty Buckets Excavation. Ted recently recorded these videos while preforming contract work supplying fuel to the B.A.E.R. teams assigned to rehabilitation efforts on the Waldo Canyon Fire burn area.
Ride along with Ted and see what he saw the first time he went behind locked gates on the Rampart Range Road into the Waldo Canyon Burn Area.
Click below to watch Video 1
In this video Ted is traveling down Rampart Range Road towards Colorado Springs from Woodland Park Colorado.
Click below to view Video 2
Special thanks to Ted Giem for sharing his videos. Visit Ted’s website: http://www.wemovemountains.com/
Additional local attractions along Rampart Range Road Include: Garden of the Gods, Queens Canyon, Rampart Reservoir Recreation Area, Devils Head National Recreation Trail, Devils Head Lookout, scenic views, fishing, camping, hiking, picnicking, rock climbing, mountain bike trails, motorized vehicle trails, cross-country skiing.