One of Pitkin County’s most unique open space holdings reopens to the public on July 1.
Filoha Meadows Nature Preserve, a spectacular but sensitive stretch along the Crystal River north of Redstone, is home to unusual plant species, a wetlands warmed by natural hot springs and a population of fireflies – an insect rarely seen in the mountains. The warm ground creates unusual winter forage, providing winter habitat to bighorn sheep and elk, and prompting a lengthy seasonal closure.
The open space is open to the public for just three months a year – from July 1 to Sept. 30 – and only during daylight hours, from a half-hour after sunrise to a half-hour before sunset. In addition, visitors must remain on a former wagon road/railroad bed that traverses the property, east of the river. No biking, dogs or horses are permitted on the property.
The Roaring Fork Conservancy offers a rare chance to see more of the property with several educational programs scheduled throughout the summer and fall. Participation is limited and events fill up quickly; go to www.roaringfork.org/events to sign up. Registration for a July 18 evening firefly and orchid walk opens on June 27.
Those visiting the property on their own can park at Redstone or Elk Park and make their way north (toward Carbondale) on Redstone Boulevard to the north entrance to town, at the bridge. From there, follow gravel Dorais Way for 1.3 miles through the Wild Rose Ranch Subdivision, either on foot or by bike, to the Filoha entrance. Bikes must be parked at the entrance.
Filoha, by the way, is the Ethiopian word for “hot water.” The property was so-named by its former owner, who spent time in the African country. The property’s thermal features are also evident at Penny Hot Springs, an open space amenity that is open year-round, on the edge of the Crystal River at the north end of Filoha Meadows. A parking area along Highway 133 at the north end of Filoha serves bathers at Penny Hot Springs.