The High Park Fire burned mostly south of Poudre Canyon, but about a fifth of the homes it burned were north of the canyon. Highway 14, the Poudre Canyon Highway, was closed for nearly three weeks until the fire was nearly fully contained. The highway opened on Saturday, June 30. Jacob and I took at weekend trip to Leadville, and decided to return via Kremmling, North Park and Poudre Canyon on July 1.
Many, many homes were lost in the High Park Fire, but firefighters did a damn good job protecting most of the structures in Poudre Canyon. Aside from that, most striking was the fire’s seeming randomness — its inability to incinerate everything in its path. Though many slopes are completely burned and utterly moonscaped, many slopes weren’t. There’s plenty of green amid the burn area, though the loss and the intensity with which the fire burned is, in many places, utterly devastating.
The images here might give the impression that the damage and the burn weren’t terribly widespread. They were. With the exception of the Glacier View area, Poudre Canyon roughly forms the northern reach of the fire. The bulk of the devastation is to the south.
Driving down-canyon from Cameron Pass, the first evidence of the High Park Fire can’t be seen until around Milepost 99 (Cam Pass is at about Milepost 65), about three miles east of Pingree Park Road (Milepost 96). From there, you’re in the fire zone almost all the way to U.S. 287 at Ted’s Place (Milepost 121).
Excuse my windshield photography here. Pulling over in Poudre Canyon isn’t always possible, and big flashing signs at either end of the canyon notify drivers that authorities really don’t want anyone stopping to take pictures. We did anyway, though. As it should be.