Thursday, October 22, 2020

High Country Cattle Grazing

Am repeating this photo from the previous post, thought a better explanation was in order.

This high country is covered in deep snow every winter. The road you see here is barricaded, i.e. closed off at either end with the first heavy snowfall. It is not a maintained year-round road as no one lives up here year round. 

Young cattle and pregnant cows are trucked up here every spring, left to gorge themselves on the lush rich grasses in the fertile meadows over the summer. Then each fall it's round up time. Cowboys rustle the fat cows out of the dark timber, load them on trucks to be hauled back down to a lower elevation for the winter.

 Though they can survive the frigid temperatures, even Rocky Mountain elk leave for lower elevations every winter as they cannot find the amount of grass here they need to survive plus walking in the deep snow is exhausting. 

The only winter snow tracks found up here would be from birds, rabbits, foxes and coyotes which are light enough to walk on top of the snow... and the occasional snowmobile track.

Ride safe my friends, keep your distances



  1. That’s really interesting! So is this area protected so not to have people build on it? Really enjoy the fun facts you share about AF and surrounding areas. Now that I have visited, it’s nice to learn more about it.

  2. Most of the high country land is state or national forest that ranchers lease for cattle grazing. There are a few private homes built here and there on private land but are not occupied year round due to no snow plow service. The county cannot afford to plow many miles of snow for just a few people while it is dangerous for the plow drivers too. The winter weather is not very hospitable, you could go weeks at a time with temperatures staying below zero all day. More than the freezing temperature though is the deep snow drifts.

    Yes, you could plan and prepare to spend a winter up there, but don't expect fire or medical emergency crews to come for you if you need them.

  3. I think it was near Silverton, while riding years ago, I found myself watching a large flock of sheep coming down from the nearby hills and eventually I was surrounded by them as I was stopped due to their numbers. They were eventually herded into large cattle trucks for the same purpose the cowboys you saw were pushing cows down the mountains.....interesting experience and I wonder what the sheep thought of the things they saw on the way to the trucks.

    1. Bet that was an experience for you and for the sheep. Have always wonder how many sheep or cows do they lose each year. The critters can get back into deep dark timber with narrow crevices and never be found by the cowboys when rounding up. Maybe they have a secret call or whistle or treat to bring them out?

      When living in Panama, I had two mules that wandered around loose all the time, no fences or corrals in that mountain area. When I needed them for riding, I put rock salt in an aluminum bowl, started wandering around the hills shaking the bowl, calling their names, Elizabeth and Dam'it. Once they could heard that salt they came running. Then was easy to slip a harness on them.


please comment here: