Hayden, Colorado, offers a plethora of summer and fall outdoor recreation, from birding and fishing, to horseback riding and hunting.


Hayden is home to one of the top bird watching sites in Colorado due to the diversity of habitats ranging from forested areas along the Yampa River, to agricultural fields, to wetlands.

Birdwatching Areas:

  • The Nature Conservancy’s “Carpenter Ranch” – a designated “Important Bird Area” (IBA) by the Audubon Society
  • The Nature Conservancy’s Yampa River Preserve – open to the public year-round for birding, fishing and hiking.
  • Yampa River State Park with Nature Trail and river access.

Birdwatching Events:

  • Yampa Valley Crane Festival early September. The festival takes place when cranes from across the Rocky Mountains visit Hayden, Craig and Steamboat Springs as a staging area before going south for the winter.
  • The local birding club hosts free, public bird walks on a regular basis. For more information, contact Merrill at


Hayden offers public access to the Yampa River at Yampa River State Park where fishermen angle for brown and rainbow trout. For those who fish by boat, the river is floatable from Hayden to Craig from spring to mid-July depending on the year.  Small stream fishing opportunities for such species as cutthroat trout are available north of Hayden in the California Park and Black Mountain areas. Stream and small lake fishing is very popular in the Flat Tops Wilderness area south of Hayden. Trout Creek; Gill and Sheriff Reservoirs are good places to fish for rainbow and cutthroat trout.

For lower elevation lake fishing, anglers try Elkhead Reservoir northwest of Hayden for small-mouth bass, blue gill, catfish, crappie and Northern pike.

For more information on local hunting and fishing, visit

Scenic Drives

Hayden is located in the heart of the Yampa Valley in the midst of beautiful open space and nearby public lands that draw abundant wildlife and provide options for many recreational opportunities.

Some wonderful options for day-drives in and around the Hayden region, visit Northwest Colorado Cultural Heritage Tourism’s website.

The hour drive south of Hayden on County Road 27 connects to Dunckley Pass on the north side of the Flattops Wilderness Area for access to great hiking, camping, fishing, hunting and snowmobiling.

Driving an hour north of Hayden on County Road 80 (summer only) accesses California Park and Black Mountain trails – more information is listed with the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest.

All-terrain vehicle access is available on forest service roads, and jeep rentals are available in Steamboat.

Water Sports

  • Elkhead Reservoir, is a 900-acre lake, 16-miles northwest of Hayden that accommodates all types of water sports from water skiing to jet skiing, from kayaking to paddle boarding.  Visitors can picnic at one of three beach areas or stay overnight at the Bear’s Ears Campground that has 16 basic campsites.
  • Tubers and rafters float down the Yampa River – access is available through the ‘Pump Station’ 5 miles east of Hayden or the ‘Yampa River State Park Headquarters’ 2 miles west of Hayden.


Hayden is an appealing headquarters for hunters and fishermen from across the country.  The regional elk herds are healthy and abundant as well as being economically important to northwest Colorado.  The area also is known for hunting mule deer and pronghorn antelope as well as some hunting for black bear and mountain lion.  For more information on local hunting and fishing, visit

Pictured: J&D Outfitters

Shooting Sports

Hayden is home to a Colorado Parks and Wildlife shooting range located 2 miles south of town on County Road 37. The range is free and open to the public year-round from daylight to dark.  For more info call 970-870-2197.