The Bluffs & Surrounding Geography

The Bluffs

The Poudre River Trail offers visitors the opportunity to visit the majestic Bluffs. The Bluffs geological system is distinctive along the Cache La Poudre’s edge. Carved by the river over millions of years, the bluffs today rise dramatically from the river bottom to over 200 feet above the waters edge. In some cases the bluffs create vertical cliffs of 50 to 60 feet high before tapering and rising south to their full height. The bluffs have also been carved over the years by continuous erosion due to rain and irrigation runoff. Today, they create a strongly, undulating surface with ravines and arroyos that visually dominate the hillside. Variations in the Bluffs formations are visible starting from The River Bluffs section at the western end of the trail to the Signature Bluffs section in Greeley. Another access to see the Bluffs from the Poudre River Trail is the trailhead adjacent to Highway 257 at the Kodak Watchable Wildlife Area to the South.

The Geography

The trail also presents a majestic panoramic view of the Rockies in the distance on the Western Horizon, the escarpment created by the Poudre River at the Fox Hills Formation, a view of the Colorado Piedmont formation, and of the river’s oxbow lakes. Adjacent to the trail there is also a natural aquifer seepage, which creates a natural artesian well. This well was once used as a water source for nearby residents. The seepage can still be seen today, delineated by a rich growth of plant material.

Other Sites in the Windsor/Greeley Area

Sharkstooth Ski Area

By the current appearance of the flat terrain surrounding Greeley and Windsor, it is hard for some to imagine that there could be a local ski area. However, Richard Perchlick had the dream of opening one in Weld County and in 1970 that dream was reality. Perchlick was a former Greeley mayor and respected resident. He named the ski area “Sharkstooth” because of a number of petrified sharksteeth fossils found on the slopes that would soon become the area. Sharkstooth was a beginning ski area designed for locals to enjoy the snow and sun without having to drive hours to the larger ski areas. It was located in the bluffs above the Cache la Poudre southwest of current day 95th Ave. and F Street. The area used mostly man-made snow to supplement Greeley’s scarce winter storms. Due to the lack of snow, the ski area was closed but the series of runs are still etched into the surrounding bluffs.

World War II Prisoner of War Camp

A few miles South of the Poudre River Trail, on the Highway 257 spur between Windsor and Greeley, two stone pillars are all that is left of a 320-acre World War II Prisoner of War camp, Camp 202, for German and Austrian prisoners. Although virtually no physical evidence remains of the camp, the US Army held German prisoners of war at this site until the end of World War II. According to local landowners, some POWs returned to settle in the area after the war. The trail experience at this site will include interpretive locations so that trail goers can understand more about the impact of World War II in Weld County and Colorado.

Missile Silos

Immediately after World War II the Cold War began and the Western states played a significant role in the United States’ defense strategy. Due to the fear of a possible third world war, Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Silos were constructed through the west to provide defense against possible attacks. A number of these silos were constructed in Weld County. Missile park is the sight of one of these silos. The silo, built in 1961, is now a county park located on the bluffs overlooking the Poudre River Valley. The park provides a unique perspective about the effects of the Cold War on America and Northern Colorado. The park can be accessed from the Highway 257 Spur between Widsor and Greeley, 3 miles South of the Poudre River Trail. It offers tours of the silos and dry-land camping with fabulous views of the Rockies and the Windsor Valley.  WEBSITE