7.3 NORTH & MIDDLE PARKS
North Park and Middle Park are intermontane basins located in north-central Colorado lying between the Front Range on the east and the Park Range to the west. These basins are in the Southern Rocky Mountains physiographic province and represent a single synclinal structural basin some 70 miles long and about 35 miles wide in Jackson and Grand counties. Although the Parks are considered a single structural basin, they are separate topographic, surface drainage, and ground-water basins, since the Continental Divide, in the form of the Rabbit Ears Range, bisects the syncline.
North Park encompasses about 1,190 square miles of Jackson County, and is a broad, intermontane valley of flat to rolling topography that is drained by the North Platte River and its principal tributaries. The North Platte flows northward into Wyoming and is part of the Mississippi River drainage system (Figure 7.3-1). According to the 2000 Census, Jackson County recorded a population of approximately 1600, with agriculture being the dominant business. North Park falls under the administration of Water Division 6, with offices located in Steamboat Springs. As much as 19,000 feet of sedimentary rocks, of Permian to Tertiary age, lie within North Park.
Middle Park Basin is located in Grand County and encompasses about 1,030 square miles of complex valleys and subbasins that are traversed by belts of overthrust faulting. The 2000 Census population for Grand County was approximately 12,500, with tourism accounting for nearly 66 percent of the employment. Middle Park is drained by the Colorado River and its tributaries. Ground water and surface water in Middle Park are administered in Water Division 5, with offices located in Glenwood Springs. There are up to 13,000 feet of sedimentary rocks in Middle Park of Jurassic to Tertiary age.
Woldford Mountain Reservoir, with a storage capacity of 66,000 acre-feet,
benefits both western Colorado and the eastern slope.
Photo from Colorado River Water Conservation District