Steamboat Lake / Clark / Hahn’s Peak Village / Columbine
"I’ve lived all over the state, and although this is not the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen, it’s in the top three," King said.
Chris King has seen or lived in most every place in the state of Colorado, but he is quick to say Clark is special.
That says a lot, considering that this area, which stretches north from Clark to the Wyoming border, is not a hot spot for tourists. But the beauty of North Routt County, residents say, is enhanced by its remoteness. Clark is a 30-minute drive north from the center of Steamboat Springs, while traveling further north to Hahn’s Peak adds another 20 minutes.
Unlike other areas around Steamboat Springs that can best be characterized as "Western" environments with dry landscape, Clark and the rest of North Routt sit a little higher and so are characterized as "Alpine" environments. That means tall, sweet-smelling pines, crisp air and clear, sharp light.
There’s a rural feel here, and life is ruled by both ranching and recreation. The area is home to a mix of ranchers and professionals, so residents who aren’t driving cattle around nearby fields are usually driving their cars back and forth to Steamboat.
Most homes between Clark and Hahn’s Peak sit on large plots of land as stand-alone units, but there are some subdivisions. Near Willow Creek Pass, lots are under an acre and homes range in size from smaller modular homes to large custom homes. These homes are serviced by water and sewer.
Hahn’s Peak Village is a little town north of Willow Creek Pass that is quaint and cool. The light around town shines differently, visitors say, giving a glow to buildings such as the historic "Little Green Schoolhouse." The town’s dirt road offers views of both the pyramidal spire of Hahn’s Peak, which seems to rise out of nothing, and the glassy blue expanse of Steamboat Lake.
Housing styles in Hahn’s Peak run the gamut from tiny old cabins built in the 1920s to new, expansive homes. Subdivisions around the lake are split into lots of two to 35 acres. These homes are new – most were built during or after the 1980s.
North still of Hahn’s Peak is Columbine, where a series of cabins provides summer and winter getaways for visitors. There aren’t many homes in this area, and those that are standing are usually summer or second homes.
The area does have a public school. The North Routt Charter School opened in the fall of 2001 and provides services to kindergarten through eighth-grade students. Students may also attend school in Steamboat Springs if they choose.
Short-term supplies are easy to get at Steamboat Lake Outfitters or down in Clark’s Country Store, but many residents find themselves making a trip south to Steamboat at least once a week.
"It puts another twist on life when you’ve got a 40-mile commute to get a gallon of milk," King said.
But the commute is worth it for professionals looking to live outside a busy resort town. It’s also worth it for outdoor enthusiasts, who thrive on the range of outdoor activities that are accessible from the front and back doors of every North Routt home. During the winter, snowmobiling and backcountry skiing here are top-notch, with North Routt drawing "powder hounds" from around the state. During the summer, residents find themselves with easy access to fishing, camping, rafting, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, sailing and hunting.