- Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge lies in a remote park, or mountain valley formed by the Green River in northwestern Colorado. The refuge is surrounded by great escarpments of rock and a forest of pinion and juniper. Much of the surrounding land is included in two Bureau of Land Management Wilderness Study Areas. Down on the refuge the terrain is rolling and open. The Green River divides the refuge in two. The refuge is comprised of five broad habitats: semidesert shrubland, grassland, marsh, riparian forest, and pinyon-juniper forest. The habitat diversity makes the area very valuable for wildlife. Over 300 species of terrestrial wildlife use the refuge.
Browns Park was the scene for a rich cultural history. The Fremont Indian culture used the valley from about 600-1300 AD. Here they hunted and gathered, grew corn and squash, built rock and masonry storage structures for their produce, and carved petroglyphs into the rock of animals and bizarre humans. The Snake or Shoshone tribe spent winters in the valley for many years. Fur trappers and traders established a thriving winter rendezvous site with the Shoshone in the 1830's. During the California gold rush cattle men discovered the park and other ranchers soon followed. Not long after, an outlaw community was established due to the remoteness, the rough terrain and the proximity to other law jurisdictions. Browns Park was one of the three primary hideouts on the Outlaw trail. Butch Cassidy and his gang the Wild Bunch made the Park their home in between train robberies and bank hold ups.
The refuge was established for four primary reasons: 1) highly productive wetlands along the Green River, 2) valuable riparian habitat, 3) critical winter habitat for mule deer, prong horn antelope, elk and other wildlife, and 4) nationally significant human history. Besides its values to wildlife, the refuge also provides significant values for people. The refuge provides a unique combination of: wildlife, solitude, scenery, and western history that is unmatched in the Refuge System. Such values make the refuge a national treasure.