Colorado Outfitters, LLC, CO

Orvis-Endorsed Fly-Fishing Expedition in Clark, Colorado

Colorado Outfitters, LLC, CO


Colorado Outfitters offers guests a true western horseback, wilderness fishing expedition. All expeditions are primarily within the primitive Mount Zirkel Wilderness in northwestern Colorado where access is limited to "on foot or horseback only". Our remote camps range from a two to four hour horseback ride with breath taking scenery and vistas throughout the ride. Backcountry camps offer comfortable accommodations and are well off the beaten path offering guests solitude and peacefulness. From our camps, there are multiple backcountry lakes to fish as well as small rivers for native cutthroat and brookies. All camps offer fishing within a ten minute to thirty minute walk. Additional lakes can be reached by horseback or hiking offering an abundance of fishing opportunity. We also pack-in and use inflatable boats which dramatically enhance the fishing experience and generally increase the number of fish caught.

With life in the backcountry, the day starts with hot coffee, an inviting campfire and a hearty hot breakfast. Meanwhile, our staff will be getting things ready for the day's adventure including saddling horses and pack stock if the plan is to ride to our fishing destination for the day. After breakfast, we hit the trail and it's off fishing for the day. Lunches are either a sack or hot shore lunch. Following an afternoon and evening of fishing, guests can expect to return to a hot country style meal and campfire.

At Colorado Outfitters, you can expect to find sound riding stock for all riding abilities (i.e. novice to experienced including for kids). By the same token, we cater our fishing trips for all abilities including for those who are new to the sport. Our professional staff have years of experience as wranglers and fishing guides. They will patiently work with you as needed to help improve your riding and/or fishing skills.

Lastly, our staff prides itself on ensuring your trip is everything you came for and more. We will work with you prior to your trip to plan an agenda and menu that meets your desires. We love what we do and believe it shows in our work. Come ride and fish the Colorado Rockies with us for a different fishing experience you will never forget!


Our backcountry camps offer comfortable accommodations. These camps consist of either Canvas Wall Tents or Cabela’s Alaknak Tents with cots, foam pads and a woodstove. We also use shower enclosures and a solar shower for cleaning up after a long day of fishing. During cooler periods, we can heat water on the woodstove so taking a hot shower is never a problem. We do have camps that can accommodate larger groups too including up to 6 guests.

In terms of meals, the day of pack in and pack out we will provide a sack lunch for on the trail. While in the backcountry, we offer at least two hot meals per day and many times will do a hot shore lunch if desired.

Typical menu options start with hot coffee and orange juice in the morning along with a main entrée like bacon, eggs, and home fries or pancakes and sausage. Lunches will either be a sack lunch featuring different cold cuts, fresh fruit, chips and cookies or a shore lunch where we might grill hamburgers, hotdogs or brats over an open fire served with other lunch items above. For dinner, we typically will grill meats for example: barbequed chicken served with plenty of sides like a fire roasted baked potato, corn and a salad. Desert is always on the menu too with fresh made cookies, brownies and even roasting some marshmallows over a campfire. In terms of a menu, we are always happy to customize to your specific taste and dietary restrictions. Please plan to discuss this when you book and we will accommodate.



$450 per person per day for groups of 1-3 people

$400 per person per day for groups of 4-6 people


The backcountry lakes we fish offer hearty populations of native cutthroat trout and brook trout. Occasionally, in some lakes we do catch some cut-bows (hybrid rainbow / cutthroat). Average size is ten to fourteen inches. However, we do catch cutthroats on a regular basis up to eighteen inches and sometimes larger. In some of the lakes, there are also some big brook trout. These can range from fourteen to sixteen inches. Backcountry lake fishing can be hot at times. However, from time to time you can also encounter an “off day”. Therefore, if the fishing is slow on one lake we will move to another in the interest of catching fish.

Most of our camps do have some small river fishing close by for small brook trout (i.e. in the six to ten inch range). This can offer some really fun, dry fly fishing on light tackle as the action is non-stop. Both kids and adults enjoy this as a “change of pace fishing day” or for fishing evenings close to camp.


Our backcountry fishing camps are generally operational by early July but it can vary depending on if we have late season snows or not. It is generally this time of year before trails are free of snow and cleared from winter’s down timber and lakes free of ice. Early season fishing many times offers a great opportunity to catch big fish as they are hungry after ice out and cruising the shorelines in search of food. This time of year nymphs, scuds and streamers are generally what works best depending on the lake.

As we get into midsummer, late July to early August, insect activity picks up and water levels have dropped in small rivers so both lakes and rivers will be fishing well including dry fly activity. Great fishing continues into late summer and early fall.

Our primary fishing season winds down at the end of August with the start of the Archery Season. However, many times we can accommodate a fall fishing trip during the last week of August to early September. Fishing during this time can offer some of the best of the season too. Please check for availability if interested!

Lastly, if you enjoy the cool, crisp days of fall and fall foliage, we can accommodate trips in the late September to early October time frame. This time frame is during the break between Colorado Archery and Rifle Hunting Seasons so our camps are open. Scenery (i.e. aspens are typically in full color) and fishing can be superb this time of year and once again offer the opportunity to catch big fish as they look to fatten up before winter.


Most of our Wilderness Expeditions are within the Mount Zirkel Wilderness which resides in Northwest Colorado. Our fishing camps are anywhere from a two hour to four hour horseback ride and reside at an altitude of approximately 10,000 ft. This area has numerous backcountry lakes which see little fishing pressure given the remoteness. Most camps also have small river fishing nearby for small brook trout. All camps offer fishing within a ten to twenty minute walk from camp. Numerous additional lakes can be reached within an hour to ninety minute hike or horseback ride. Given the remoteness of our camps, we recommend expeditions of a minimum of three days and typically four to five days is preferred. Durations include pack in and pack out times.

We also offer some great small river expeditions in our Summit County location (near Silverthorne, CO) which are a one day trip into the Eagles Nest Wilderness. Typically, this is a long day hitting the trail on horseback early AM and getting back to the trailhead just before dark but if you are looking for a fun day of superb small river fishing for cutthroats and brookies it is worth it! Typically, we do these one day trips starting in mid to late July (after the spring run-off and water levels are fishable) until the Archery Season begins the last week of August.

Typical Weather:

Colorado backcountry weather can be unpredictable. However, in general expect cool mornings /evenings and pleasant days during the summer months. At night, temperatures can dip into the low forties with day time highs in the sixties to seventies. If you do decide to book a Fall trip, lows can dip into the high twenties and low thirties at night with day time highs generally in the fifties and sixties.

Given Colorado’s altitude, our sunshine is stronger and brighter than most areas in the country. Adequate protection from the sun is essential including a hat, sunscreen and quality sunglasses. It is also normal for a passing thunderstorm to threaten many afternoons so quality rain gear is also a must.

What is Provided:

Colorado Outfitters will provide fully furnished camps and meals as described within the “Accommodations Section”. Guests should plan to bring their own personal snacks and any special drinks (we will provide ice tea or lemonade at meals). Adult beverages are permitted in moderation and reason.

Guests can expect at least one guide for every three people. Additional staff will be provided as needed based on the size of the party (i.e. wranglers, cook, etc.).

All stock is provided and will be assigned based on experience level of the guest. We do have some great kid friendly horses too!

If guests need fly fishing rods and reels, we do have a limited number for rent at a cost of $30.00 per day. We do not have waders for rent (but we can point guests to some fly shops in the town of Steamboat where they can be rented). Additionally, clients are expected to come with necessary tackle including leaders, tippet and flies. In the event, you would like us to provide any tackle, please bring this up when booking. Especially, in the case of beginners, we are willing to purchase tackle in advance on your behalf. Guests would then be expected to reimburse us for its cost.

Lastly, we do not offer lodging the evening prior to pack in or after pack out. Clients will be given specific directions and a time to meet us at the trail head the day of pack in.

For lodging before and after your expedition, we recommend the following:

What to Bring:

Gear and Clothing:

  • Jeans for riding
  • Daypack (1500-2000 cu in)
  • Hiking (quick dry) pants
  • Water bladder or bottle
  • T-Shirts
  • Headlamp/flashlight
  • Long sleeve shirts
  • Sleeping bag ( rated to 20 degrees)
  • Fleece or insulating layer
  • Camp pillow
  • Warmer (softshell) jacket
  • Camera
  • Quality Rain gear (jacket and pants)
  • Spare Batteries
  • Wool or wool-blend socks
  • Quality Sunglasses
  • Boots for riding / hiking
  • Toiletries
  • Hat(s)
  • Sunscreen
  • Sweatshirt / Hoody for camp
  • Bug repellent
  • Comfortable shoes for camp
  • Personal snacks and drinks

Gear Recommendations:

Fishing Gear:

  • Colorado fishing license
  • Weights (small split shot)
  • Forceps
  • Net
  • Floatants (gel/liquid and dry shake)
  • Tippet (4X-6X)
  • Leaders (7.5-9 ft.)
  • Nippers
  • Packable waders (stocking foot)
  • 4 or 5 piece rods (packable); 8.5 to 9 foot rod in a 4 or 5 weight works well for backcountry lakes, for small rivers 7.5 to 8 foot rods in a 2-3 weight
  • Reel(s) with floating line and for lake fishing bring an extra spool with sinking line

Recommended Fly Patterns:

  • Black Knat (14-18)
  • Parachute Adams (14-18)
  • Tricos (20-24)
  • Gold Ribbed Hares Ear (beaded and non beaded; 12-16)
  • Olive, red, Orange scuds (18-24)
  • Black, brown and olive streamers beaded and non beaded (8-12)
  • Yellow Bellied Humpy (12-16)
  • Hoppers/Stimulators (14-18)
  • Pheasant Tails (beaded and non beaded 12-16)
  • Ants/beetles
  • Note: please check with us prior to your trip for a refined fly list based on time of year and what’s working best!

Additional Activities:

As part of your Wilderness Expedition with us, taking a day off and doing some sight-seeing and horseback riding is always an option. Weather permitting, rides along the Continental Divide are an option as is wildlife viewing for deer, elk and moose.

We also offer full day and half day horseback rides for those on vacation in our area.

Lastly, for those interested in just a day of guided fishing, we offer the following:

  • Local small river fishing or lake fishing accessed on horseback
  • Early spring, ice-out fishing on Steamboat Lake for big rainbows

For more information, on the above please contact us or see our website.


1. Does Colorado Outfitters offer pre/post expedition lodging and/or transportation to and from the airport? Answer: No, we do not. It is the guest’s responsibility to secure lodging prior and following the expedition as well as transportation to and from the airport. We have no local guest accommodations beyond our remote camps and don’t have the staff to provide transportation. We can however make recommendations on where to stay prior/following your expedition and for airport transportation. Please see our website for details or contact us.

2. I don’t have much horseback riding or fly fishing experience is this an issue? Answer: No, we have stock for all riding abilities including children. Our experienced staff will go over riding safety prior to leaving the trail head and also work with you to improve your riding skills. The same is true for entry level fly fishing quests. Our experienced guides thoroughly enjoy introducing those guests who are new to the sport and will work hard to make it a fun, learning experience!

3. How much gear and personal items should I bring and how do I pack for a trip like this? Answer: Please reference the “what to bring” and “gear sections” above. Also, a general rule of thumb with a pack trip is bring what you need but no more. We are limited as to what we can pack in on mules. If you have specific questions, please contact us. In terms of how to pack, soft duffle/gear bags are best and better to pack 2 smaller bags of equal weight than one big bag. Pack rods are best (i.e. 4-5 piece) packed in the protective rod tube. Please no glass items. If bringing beer, bring cans. Other adult beverages should be brought along in Nalgene or stainless steel bottles. If possible, we will make arrangements to get your gear and supplies the afternoon before your trip so we can get it weighed and packed into loads prior to meeting at the trailhead. We will discuss the possibility of this when booking your trip.

4. Can we keep any fish to eat? Answer: In general, we strongly encourage catch and release which is why the fishing remains great. However, one evening we are open to keeping a fish or two for an appetizer if guests desire.

5. What about altitude sickness? Answer: It is always tough to predict who will or won’t get altitude sickness. In general, for our fishing and hunting trips, very few guests experience it. However, if you have any concerns as to how your physical health and condition relates to high altitude, we recommend you discuss it with your Doctor prior to booking a trip. Additionally, there are medications today that do help prevent altitude sickness. For safety reasons, we do require guests to disclose any health conditions as part of the booking process.


Colorado Outfitters, LLC
Orvis-Endorsed Fly-Fishing Expedition
P.O. Box 749
Clark, CO 80428

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