Down the Road: A place to connect in the tight-knit town of Hayden
Editor’s note: This is Part 2 of a four-part series exploring the hidden gems when you head down the road in Routt County.
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — With developments on the horizon, including a bigger brewery and a park with an obstacle course, the town of Hayden continues to grow in the Colorado spirit.
Despite those changes, Hayden is still a tight-knit community, a quiet place to raise a family or stop in at a handful of businesses.
“We don’t have a lot, but what we do have, we do well,” said Mathew Mendisco, the town manager.
It is the kind of small town where drivers wave to each other as they pass, and where shop owners know every local customer by name, inquiring about one’s kids or how a garden is doing.
“If you get a flat tire in Hayden, four people will pull over to help you,” Mendisco said.
Whether you’re waiting for a new tire or visiting for the day, here are some things to do and see in Hayden.
What to eat and drink
Like some of the local ranchers, Patrick Delaney rises before the sun to prepare the pastries for his café, the Wild Goose Coffee at the Granary at 198 E. Lincoln Ave., near the railroad tracks.
He owns the place with his wife, Tammie, both of whom treat their regulars like family.
“We’re not charging you for the cookie,” Tammie said to one such customer, handing the treat over along with steaming cups of coffee.
Their business, renovated out of an old granary dating back to 1917, offers an eclectic atmosphere reminiscent of its ranching roots. A smell of grains and hay still hangs in the air, mixing cozily with the coffee.
Delaney and his wife used to run a feed and tack store out of the granary, which is now on the National Register of Historic Places. As business slowed, the couple wondered what they could do with the space.
Locals already used the store as a gathering place, coming in not just for supplies but to share coffee and chat with other residents.
“We always thought it was a great connecting point,” Tammie said.
Now in its sixth year, the café serves a range of drinks as well as house-made breakfast and lunch dishes — and of course Patrick Delaney’s pastries.
For a piece of local history, take a visit to the Hayden Heritage Center, 300 West Pearl St. Housed in an old train depot, the museum offers exhibits on the area’s mining history, collections of fossils and horse racing memorabilia, among other rarities and oddities — including a wall of animal mounts and furs.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday
“We’ve been told we have the best scones west of the Mississippi,” his wife said.
Tammie’s quiche, made from her mom’s recipe, is popular savory option. It and other dishes feature micro-greens from 41North, a solar aquaponic farm that opened in town last fall.
True to the couple’s vision, customers were patiently chatting with one another on Saturday, catching up with neighbors or getting the scoop on the local gossip.
Tammie plans to offer more community events throughout the summer.
On June 8, the business will host a barn dance for all ages, featuring country Western swing music from 7 to 11 p.m.
Wild Goose Coffee is open 5:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.
If café fare isn’t exciting the palette, a food truck just outside the coffee shop serves up wood-fired pizzas. Embers Pizza has more limited hours, open 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday through Friday.
After a caffeine fix, adult libations are conveniently just a block away at Yampa Valley Brewing Co., 106 East Jefferson Ave. Hayden’s only brewery offers an outdoor patio with cornhole boards, and an indoor taproom with family-style benches that encourage mingling.
The head brewers, Erica Tieppo and Christian Dufresne, came on board just two years ago, but they recently purchased the company.
Tieppo and Dufresne like to try a variety of beer recipes, and they regularly rotate four of their taps with new creations, in addition to their four flagship beers.
“We definitely get adventurous in terms of our rotating taps and our seasonals,” Tieppo said.
For example, the Bing Bing Bling currently on draft is a sour that uses a cherry puree sourced from the Front Range. Other beers, like the flagship Valley Girl Blond, uses local ingredients such as honey from Outlaw Apiaries, located west of town.
As new owners, Tieppo and Dufresne plan to expand their operation at a new location, and they are scheduled to open another brewery in Craig, the Barrel Cathedral, next weekend.
In the evenings, customers can pair their brews with a selection of Southern-inspired dishes from Grit Girls Eatery, another food truck parked by the patio. Comfort food classics like pulled brisket sliders are served along more original creations like black-eyed pea hummus with pita.
The brewery is open 2 to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, noon to 10 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 8 p.m. Sundays. The food truck is open 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and Sunday 2 p.m. to close.
For a more traditional pub experience, try the Hiway 40 Grill and Lodge, 136 East Jefferson Ave. It offers a laid-back, family atmosphere with a patio that also has cornhole and other yard games. Locals recommended ordering from the list of burgers.
Where to shop
While Hayden may not be a retail hub, customers can discover hidden gems at two antique-style shops. The Find, located inside granary that houses Wild Goose Coffee, has historic items like a grand piano from the early 1900s alongside locally made artisanal crafts.
The Old Door Gallery at 138 South Walnut St. offers a similar range of items ranging from the artistic to the rustic.
Just in time for summer, the Case Enterprise flower and garden center at 821 Industrial Ave. is literally flourishing. A rainbow of fresh buds, from dahlias to petunias, bloomed inside a greenhouse.
Owner Monica Case, born and raised in Northwest Colorado, said she learned most of what she knows from her grandma. She sells what she knows will grow well in this climate, knowledge she has cultivated over her decades in the area.
This time of year, she recommends people prepare to plant vegetables. But with the area’s haphazard winters, she advises waiting until after June 10 to put any but the hardiest plants in the ground.
Where to play
In true Colorado spirit, Hayden is a focal point to a variety of outdoor recreation.
The Yampa River State Park just west of town offers fishing opportunities for brown and rainbow on the Yampa River.
Elkhead Reservoir northwest of town is home to mall-mouth bass, blue gill, catfish, crappie and northern pike. The reservoir is also a popular boating destination.
For birding opportunities, Carpenter Ranch just east of town is a designated “Important Bird Area” by the Audubon Society. Just a mile east of that is the Nature Conservancy’s Yampa River Preserve, which offers a year-round menagerie of birds as well as fishing and hiking.
Mendisco was excited to announce a new park opening next week. Dry Creek Park, located on South Poplar Street across from Hayden Elementary School south of U.S. Highway 40, was built with help from a $500,000 grant awarded by the Colorado Health Foundation.
It will feature a playground accessible to kids with disabilities as well as a more adventures fitness course, which Mendisco likened to an American Ninja Warrior obstacle circuit.
Sun, rain or shine, this list should give you plenty of options to peruse this Routt County community.
If you don’t yet have any friends in Hayden before you visit, you’re likely to make some before you leave.
As Mendisco put it, “At the end of the day we’re going to shake hands, go to the brewery and have a good time.”
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