Park County was established in 1861 and is about 45 miles wide and 60 miles long (about 2,166 sq. miles). We have 3 wilderness areas, 2 state parks, 12 state wildlife areas, and more territory above 9,000 feet than any other county in Colorado!
Federal land makes up about 51% of Park County. State-owned lands comprises about 8% and 41% or so is private land. Pike National Forest is about 644,000 acres and we also have Buffalo Peaks, Mount Evans, and Lost Creek Wilderness Areas. Also within our boundaries is Elevenmile Canyon Recreation Area, Bristlecone Pine Scenic Area, and the Colorado Trail.
The beautiful mountains of the Mosquito Range partially defines our border and includes four peaks above 14,000 feet as well as 25 summits above 13,000 feet. South Park, a 900-square mile area, is located in the center of Park County. We have an average elevation of 9,000 feet and the terrain supports herds of elk, deer, bighorn sheep, and antelope. We also have beaver, raccoon, bobcat, lynx, mountain lion, black bear, and an assortment of waterfowl.
Important wildlife and aquatic recreation areas include Antero, Elevenmile, Tarryall, Spinney and Montgomery Reservoirs. They attract about a half-million people to the region each year for boating, hunting, fishing, and camping. Access to the County is provided by US Highways 285 and 24, Colorado Highway 9, and many County roads and National Forest access routes.
Fairplay's elevation is 9,957 feet and was founded in 1867. With a population of 678 people within the city limits and about 1,500 more in outlying areas, it is the County Seat and the center of county government. Included in the town is a school, library, post office, 2 motels, 2 hotels, new grocery store (expanding soon), 7 restaurants, 3 gas stations, 1 bank, numerous small businesses and real estate offices, and a brand new Recreation Center with a skate board park. Major events include "Get Your Ass Up the Pass" (the Burro Race) and the South Park Music Festival (now in it's second year and boasts 120 bands over a 2 day period...3 or 4 playing at the same time in different locations).
Alma is the highest incorporated town in North America at 10,350 feet. Founded in 1873, the town boasts a population of 233, with an estimated 1,000 residents in nearby subdivisions. Within it's limits is 2 restaurants/bars, a small convenience store, health food store/coffee shop, a couple real estate offices, and a post office. Alma's Festival in the Clouds is one of their major events.
Como is 9,800 feet above sea level, founded in 1879, and has a population of about 100 people in and around town. At the base of Boreas Pass (a gorgeous route over the mountains to Breckenridge...no 4-wheel drive required), Como is rich in mining and railroad history with many of the buildings remaining much as they were in the late 1800s (with the exception of electricity and indoor plumbing). The Como Roundhouse has been restored and is on the National Register of Historic places. Businesses include the post office, Como Mercantile (formerly known as Allen's Corner Saloon), the Como Depot Hotel (restored and is now a restaurant open May through September), the Como Mammoth Museum (made from a miner's home), and the Mountain Man Gallery (great arts and crafts store). Their 4th of July celebration attracts many people each year.
Hartsel was founded in 1866 and has an elevation of 8,860 feet. It has 2 general stores, a gas station, a restaurant, trading post and post office. Near 3 reservoirs, Hartsel receives heavy traffic in the summer and is a favorite of fisherman and boaters alike.
Jefferson is just over Kenosha Pass on Highway 285 and is 9,499 feet above sea level. Jefferson is surrounded by large cattle ranches and sparsely populated subdivisions. It has a gas station, a couple of real estate offices, a general store, and the historic Jefferson Depot is on the National Register of Historic Places (has a gift shop and snack bar).
Other towns in Park County include Bailey, Guffey, Lake George, Shawnee, and Grant. They range from 7,700 to 8,700 feet in elevation and have post offices and small general stores. They are stopover favorites for travelers going back to Colorado's major metropolitan areas.