The Como Creek is a high-elevation (~3,100 m), wadeable mountain stream just east of the Continental Divide and approximately 27 km west of Boulder, Colorado. The site has remained relatively undisturbed for the past fifty years, with no development, logging, or fire activity in the watershed. Snowmelt dominates the hydrologic and nutrient flux in this predominantly subalpine system.
Como Creek is a 6.64 km2 headwater catchment spanning 2,900-3,560 m and is part of the Niwot Ridge Long Term Ecological Research Station and the Boulder Creek Critical Zone Observatory. Approximately 80% of the catchment is below treeline, primarily comprised of 100-year-old coniferous forest dominated by Picea Engelmannii (Engelmann spruce), Abies lasiocarpa (sub-alpine fir), Pinus flexilis (limber pine), and Populus tremuloides (quaking aspen). Alpine meadows bounded by ribbon forest
characterize the landscape above treeline. Meadow soils are classified as a mixed Type Humicryepts, sandy-skeletal in texture. The soil is loamy sand to gravel with little clay content that is moderately-drained.
Characterized by cold and relatively long winters, Niwot Ridge has an average annual temperature of 1.5 °C and average annual precipitation of 800 mm. Como Creek generally reaches base flow during winter months. Most precipitation falls as snow from October to June while afternoon thunderstorms are common in the summer.