Winterhawk Outfitters, CO

Orvis-Endorsed Fly-Fishing Expedition in Colorado

Winterhawk Outfitters, CO


Winterhawk is one of Colorado's premier wilderness outfitters, providing horseback adventures in the spectacular Flat Tops Wilderness Area. The Flat Tops is an angler's paradise. Whether catching cutthroat and brook trout by the dozen in one of the crystal-clear streams, or landing bruisers in a blue alpine lake, there are opportunities for everyone. From base camp to remote backcountry camps, Winterhawk finds the perfect balance of comfort and rustic wilderness charm. Carpeted wall tents with wood-burning stoves accommodate guests, and the home-cooked meals are always satisfying to begin or end a day of fishing, riding, or simply soaking in the unmatched Flat Tops scenery.

We offer experienced guides who are knowledgeable in both the area waters and the sport. Whether you are experienced or not, they will work hard to ensure your experience is positive and enjoyable.

After 30 years as a professional, full-time outfitter, Winterhawk's attention to detail makes a trip for any occasion truly special. There is no better way to experience alpine fly fishing in Colorado than a horseback adventure into the heart of the Flat Tops.

Date Range

For fishing: mid-June through September (depending on weather conditions).

What is Provided to Customer

Winterhawk can accommodate both the beginner and experienced fly fisherman. We can provide a variety of equipment, including rods, reels, flies, etc. Of course, clients may also choose to bring their own equipment. Please discuss your needs with us at the time of booking. For those relatively new to fly fishing, our guides will work with you to improve casting and your knowledge of the sport.

Region/Terrain Where You Fish

The Winterhawk experience provides access to a broad range of waters that are only accessible by horseback or foot. No motorized vehicles are allowed within the wilderness boundaries. These fisheries receive little pressure, offering great fishing and solitude. Fishing the small wilderness rivers and beaver ponds typically provides fast action on brook trout and Colorado River cutthroat. These waters reside at altitudes of 9,000 to 10,500 feet. We also have access to numerous high mountain lakes that hold large cutthroat and see few fishermen throughout the year. On some of our high mountain lakes, we have pontoon boats that enable us to fish areas that otherwise would be tough to access. These high mountain lakes range at altitudes from 10,500 to well over 11,000 feet.

Winterhawk offers access to a broad range of fisheries that provide something for everyone. Whether fishing out of our base camp on daily horseback rides or packing into one of our remote camps, the scenery and views add to an experience that is truly unique.

Typical Weather by Season

June through September: expect warm days (60 to 75 degrees) with occasional afternoon rain showers. The possibility of light snow always exists in the Rocky Mountains, even in July and August. Expect cool nights, (30 to 50 degrees) so bring a suitable sleeping bag, rated at 10 or 20 degrees, and clothing appropriate for cool evenings. After you have booked a trip with us, we will send each member of your party a detailed list of suggested clothing and gear needed, and additional information to help you plan your trip with us.


Sample of Typical Itinerary

The trip to Winterhawk’s base camp offers a scenic ride along the Colorado River and through picturesque ranching valleys. The final stretch into camp is only accessible by high-clearance four-wheel drive.

Upon arrival at Winterhawk, our staff will assist you into one of our large wall tents. After relaxing and getting a tour of base camp, you’ll be welcomed to a hearty, home-cooked meal. Over dinner, you and your guide will discuss the details of the trip in preparation for the fun that lies ahead.

For trips out of our base camp, the day begins with a hot breakfast. After gathering your lunch and snacks from our lunch bar, you will meet your guide at the rail with the horses. Depending on the destination for the day, horseback rides into the wilderness typically range from 45 minutes to two hours. After a great of day fishing and riding, you can look forward to a shower and another great, home-cooked meal back at camp.

Our remote pack-in trips also begin with a hot breakfast before hitting the trail. The guides and staff will have the mules packed and ready to go to your remote camp. Depending on your arrival time, you may even pack into your camp the day you arrive. You can expect a two to three hour horseback ride into the wilderness to reach your camp. Your home for the trip will typically be within a few minutes walking distance to some of the finest backcountry fishing available in Colorado. Similar to fishing out of base camp, days will begin and end with great meals. Fishing each day may include a combination of high mountain lakes and small river fishing.

Our staff and guides have an attention to detail that will ensure your trip is one to remember. You will have the opportunity to ride through beautiful country while experiencing unbeatable backcountry fishing.

With the conclusion of your trip, our staff will help you pack and ensure a timely departure per your travel plans.


Lodging, Meals, and Accommodations

Winterhawk accommodations feature carpeted wall tents with woodstoves and bunk beds. We also have a hot shower at base camp. Meals are home cooked and served family style. Guided trips to remote camps offer similar accommodations.

A typical breakfast consists of eggs made to order, pancakes or French toast, and either sausage or bacon along with juice and freshly brewed coffee. For dinner, you can expect meals such as grilled steak, smoked pork chops, or barbecued chicken along with baked potatoes, vegetables, and fresh garden salad. Be sure to save room for our homemade desserts too!

When booking, please let us know of any health needs, physical conditions, and dietary needs that we should know of in order to assure a safe and enjoyable trip with us.


Species You Fish for by Season

The Flat Tops Wilderness Area is home to brook trout and Colorado River cutthroat. Caddis, mayflies, and midge patterns are the rule. During the early summer, Woolly Buggers can be extremely effective in lakes and ponds. As the summer wears on, Stimulators and attractor flies that imitate small grasshoppers can provoke aggressive strikes. In general, the use of a dry fly with a nymph dropper is a very effective technique for catching fish in all waters.


What Should Customers Bring?

A Colorado fishing license is required for all persons 16 years of age or older. Fishing licenses can be purchased over the counter at most sporting goods stores in Colorado. Non-resident 5-day fishing licenses are $18.25, and additional days are $5.00 per day. Annual non-resident licenses are $40.25. Colorado resident annual licenses are $20.25. You are required to purchase your own license before arriving at base camp.

After you have booked a trip with us, we will send each member of your party a detailed list of suggested clothing, gear, and additional information to help you plan your trip with us.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Where is the closest airport and does Winterhawk provide airport transportation?
A.Flights are scheduled daily into the Eagle/Vail airport. We can make pick-up and drop-off arrangements if necessary. Please let us know your travel plans at least 30 days prior to your arrival. Because of the distance and time involved, we must charge a $100 fee for each trip to the Eagle/Vail airport or motel. If you’ll be traveling by plane, please fly in the day before your scheduled arrival in base camp and plan to fly out the day after you are scheduled to depart.

Q. Is previous horseback riding experience a must for a trip at Winterhawk?
A. No. No matter how much riding experience you've had (if any), we will outfit you with the right horse for your ability. Any guest who is over 240 pounds or very heavy for their height, should let us know before making reservations. On all of our guided trips, clients riding horses are furnished with oilskin rain slickers and saddle bags. Horses and mules are not allowed to be taken from our camps without being accompanied by a guide or packer.

Q. What about tipping?
A. Even though tipping is not mandatory, it is certainly customary to tip your guide, packer, and cook, if you feel that they did a good job for you. It is greatly appreciated.


Overall: 5.0/5 starsShow Rating Distribution 5.0 / 5 based on 9 reviews

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9 of 9 reviewers would recommend this product to a friend.

  • 5/5 stars 5/5

    Five Days in Paradise - 7/15/2014
    By: from Eagle, Colorado

    I have been interested in booking a horseback pack-in hunting trip for my three grandsons, but the older ones are involved in sports during hunting season. So I began to research pack-in summer fishing trips on the internet. Winterhawk Outfitters caught my attention because they do such trips and because they are endorsed by Orvis. Turned out to be a great choice. I Booked a trip for myself, the three grandsons, ages 9, 14 and 15, my son and my two sons-in-law. The fishing was fantastic and the scenery was breathtaking. We didn't get to do the pack-in to the remote camp because of residue from late season snows, and at first I was disappointed. But the experience was so great, the disappointment soon disappeared. We spent the entire time at the Indian Cliffs base camp which turned out to be very comfortable. We had actual beds with mattresses and a hot shower. Our group represented a wide range of experience and proficiency in riding and fly fishing. The guides and the wrangler took great pains to match us with the right horse or mule and see to it that we were all well equipped with quality Orvis fishing paraphernalia. We rode out each day to either a small stream or mountain lake and spent the day catching beautiful cutthroats and brook trout. The guides, Bob, Ryan and Seth could not have been more accommodating. They were very patient and helpful in every way possible. They were all good with the kids, but Seth particularly related with them. He took them on a hike and helped them devise a trap to try and catch a chipmunk. The food was delicious and plentiful. The outfitter, Larry, was more than fair in adjusting the fee because we were unable to do the remote camp. The whole experience could not have been better. I feel I have new friends in Larry, Bob, Ryan and Seth. Thanks guys for a trip we will relive for the rest of our lives. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

  • 5/5 stars 5/5

    Fantastic Trip - 7/3/2014
    By: from West Palm Beach, FL

    I spent 3 days doing some early season trout fishing with Winterhawk Outfitters, and it was a fantastic experience. Bob was an excellent guide, and we explored several high mountain lakes and streams above 9,000 feet, catching over 60 fish in 3 days. Larry and his staff back at base camp made the trip quite comfortable with hot meals, comfortable sleeping quarters, and good company. If you are looking for a fishing trip with added adventure, definitely take a trip with Winterhawk.

  • 5/5 stars 5/5

    Adventure in the Flat Tops - 9/5/2013
    By: from Leawood, KS

    My family (myself, my wife, and our two teenage children) took a guided fly fishing and horseback riding trip into the Flat Tops with Winterhawk the first full week of August 2013. Winterhawk is a professional operation with good horses and mules, and great people. The owners, Larry and Laura Amos, were very helpful in assisting me with planning the trip. We spent 2 nights at the base camp and 3 nights at the remote Island Lake camp. Guide Bob Terwilliger, wrangler Heather Miller, and cook Ivars Panevics took us up to the remote camp. They were all very accommodating, and, by the end of the trip, seemed more like friends than Winterhawk employees. Bob is a good trail boss and does a great job doing double duty as a fishing guide. He had my son fly casting like a champ in no time and catching fish. Heather does a great job with the stock. She is also good at building impromptu tarp shelters in the woods, complete with camp fire and hot coffee. Ivars cooked some great meals and even loaned me his Stetson to wear for the trip. He was also very flexible in how he prepared food and what time we ate. The country is beautiful, and the water we fished (Middle Derby Creek and several lakes) is full of trout. Unfortunately, we were in some type of strange monsoonal weather pattern (unique for Colorado) and spent time alternating between fishing and hanging out under Heather’s well-made shelters. However, despite the crazy weather, we caught lots of fish and had a memorable family trip. Hopefully, we will make it back again there sometime in the future. Until then, we have lots of Bob’s pictures to help us remember the trip. Thanks all!

  • 5/5 stars 5/5

    Lucky Me! - 8/22/2013
    By: from Denver, CO, USA

    Wow! What a great experience I just had with Winterhawk Outfitters in the beautiful Flat Tops Wilderness area in my beloved state of Colorado. From the onset of meeting Jentry, our guide, to the ride back to our car, the Winterhawk team was a delight. We did the drop camp near Island Lake and the ride up was spectacular both in scenery and just fun being on a sure footed horse. After getting some tips on patterns to use from Jentry, my buddy and I headed out on the short walk to Island Lake. I'm just sayin', my first four cast were followed by the proverbial phrase, "fish on!" Needless to say the Cuttthroats and Brookies were both plentiful and beautiful. The camp was equipped with all the amenities needed so with great fishing and easy camping set in a story book backdrop, I can easily say that this was a trip of a life time for me. We stopped at a nice bend on Derby creek during the ride back to base camp and 3 lovely brookies came to hand. Saturday night dinner at base camp included a perfectly cooked ribeye steak I can still taste as I write this! everyone including the staff is raving about their new cook/chef, high praise indeed. Great job Larry and a BIG thank you to you and your team at Winterhawk for providing me with and I'll repeat myself, a once in a life time trip!

  • 5/5 stars 5/5

    You won't be disappointed. - 8/16/2013
    By: from Cheyenne, WY

    What a truly unique fishing adventure. I just returned from a weekend at Winterhawk with my 6 year old daughter. There are very few places where you can combine wilderness horseback riding, world-class stream and small river trout fishing, and even lake fishing in the wilderness with one-man boats. And the fishing is so amazing it should almost be illegal. Imagine a place with opportunities for big brook trout, cutthroats, hybrids, with sure footed horses, a family friendly atmosphere, and some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. We'll definitely be back.

  • 5/5 stars 5/5

    Good times - 7/31/2013
    By: from Lakewood, CO

    I just returned from a three day fly fishing trip/school with my father-in-law via Winterhawk Outfitters. The trip was a gift from our respective wives for each of us having a mile-stone birthday this year. This was my first time taking a trip such as this and my expectations were very much exceeded. Staff was very friendly, polite and generally fun to be around. As others have stated food was plentiful and delicious. Most likely you do not eat as well at home! Our guide Bob did a great job and gave us the appropriate amount of time with instruction on gear, casting technique etc and then we were off. Riding a horse to get fishing locations and our camp at Island Lake is something that adds so much to the experience. Just sit back and soak in the beautiful Colorado outdoors as you move from place to place. Did I mention we caught a bunch of fish!

  • 5/5 stars 5/5

    Fly Fishing school @ Winterhawk - 7/31/2013
    By: from Colorado

    My son-in-lay and I did not know what to expect, since these were surprise 50th & 70th year birthday gifts! I had never been fly fishing so the schooling was good. I appreciated Bob's sense of humor and the fact he was very patient with an "old devil" like me who had a more difficult time picking up the knack; never lost his cool. Food was EXCELLENT! If you went away hungry, it was your own fault. Bob knew what he was talking about, where we were going and what to expect. We went through some very nice country. If you are looking for a trip away into the wilderness that is blissfuly quiet and you can see the night sky well I highly recommend Winterhawk Outfitters as the place to go. We also spent a fun rainy evening with Bob and the crew playing "Old Maid" that produced a lot of laughs!

  • 5/5 stars 5/5

    small stream fishing - 7/6/2013
    By: from Leawood, KS, USA

    As I have done more and more fly fishing it has become obvious to me that I enjoy small steam fishing the best. My recent experience with Winterhawk Outfitters made this realization even more clear to me! The pure beauty of the Flat Top Wilderness, the solitude,the quiet,the crystal clear water, the healthy aggressive fish,I could go on for ever; was everything and more than I expected. Then there is the staff of Winterhawk Outfitters; They made me feel right at home, as if they had known me for years. As per my usual I did not have everything I needed, no problem, they made sure I had what I needed. Part of the experience was the necessity to ride horse back or should I say mule back to the Middle Derby Creek. I can't remember when I rode last,however I felt very safe and secure on "Rosie".The ride was in and of itself a real kick! The food was hot, taste and plentiful,served home style. My guide Bob, was very knowledgeable, extremely helpful and above all patient with me!! He never seemed to be in a hurry or bothered by my endless questions. My experience was VERY positive and I can't wait to go back in August.

  • 5/5 stars 5/5

    Recent fishing trip with Winterhawk - 8/29/2012
    By: from Tucson, Az

    My son and I just returned from a five day fishing trip with Winterhawk Outfitters. Over those five days, we caught over 500 fish and had one of the best trips ever. We plan a big trip each summer, using the Orvis recommentations. They have always been excellent, but this year was even more outstanding. We would ride out each day to waters chosen by our guide. This included high mountain lakes, and small streams. We would ride through some of the most beautiful country that you can imagine. Our guide's easy manner made us feel very comfortable, while he instructed us on the correct flies and techniques to use. His knowledge of the Flattop Wilderness is extensive, having guided there for many years. We hope to be able to fish with him again. Our wranglers made sure that our horses were ready in the morning and they took care of them when we returned with stories of the many fish caught that day. Our cook had meals ready for us no matter what time we left or returned to base camp. The food was plentiful and delicious. The combination of great fishing, horse back riding, great accommodations(given the remotness of the base camp) and the wonderful service provided by the staff of Winterhawk made this years trip something that I will never forget. I would recommend this outfitter for anyone that wants to wear out their arms catching lots of fish.

Winterhawk Outfitters, Colorado
Orvis-Endorsed Fly-Fishing Expedition
Laura Amos
39° 55'46.30" N
107° 03'19.36" W

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