U.S. National Forest Campground Guide

White River National Forest


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Forest Information

The White River National Forest consists of 1,961,610 acres and is located in north-central Colorado. There are 58 developed campgrounds of which 40 meet the selection criteria.

The White River National Forest was established in 1891 in a proclamation setting aside "public lands for the public good." The first Timber Reserve in the State of Colorado, the White River National Forest's proud history of managing the land for the good of present and future generations can be seen in breathtaking scenery, abundant wildlife, spectacular wilderness areas, diverse recreation opportunities, and outstanding camping locations.

Glenwood Canyon, a 15-mile long gorge carved by the Colorado River, is in the central portion of the White River National Forest. A trip through Glenwood Canyon is a trip back to the beginnings of life on this planet. Place names, such as Grizzly Creek, Broken Rib Spring, and French Creek, provide some insight to the area's recent history. While Glenwood Canyon is awe-inspiring, many people find the engineering feat known as Interstate 70 equally amazing - a portion of I-70 is actually cantilevered off the Canyon's shear wall. Parallel to I-70 is a paved trail for bicyclists and walkers to enjoy, while below, a parade of rafters float the Colorado River.

To the north of Glenwood Canyon, on the other side of the White River Plateau's rolling splendor, is the origin of the Wilderness concept. The White River National Forest claims "the Wilderness Concept was born and the principle was first applied in 1919" at Trappers Lake in the present day Flat Tops Wilderness Area. Credit for the concept is given to the "Father of the Wilderness Concept," Arthur H. Carhart. The story: Carhart was dispatched from Denver to Trappers Lake to survey 100 planned home sites and a road around the lake. After seeing this beautiful, picture book area, Carhart started a campaign "of keeping certain scenic areas in the National Forest system undeveloped." Today, visitors to the Forest can appreciate Carhart's foresight at a cluster of campgrounds near the northern shore of Trappers Lake. Any one of the four developed camping locations provides a near wilderness experience and easy access to the area's pristine beauty for car, tent, recreational vehicle (RV) and motorhome camping enthusiasts. Less well-known, but equally delightful, are South Fork and Marvine campgrounds which are adjacent to and have trailheads to other portions of the Flat Tops Wilderness Area.

To the south of the Flat Tops Wilderness, the White River Plateau gently rolls across the 10,000 to 12,400-foot high tablelands. The Plateau, not protected as a Wilderness Area, has retained the feeling of a land well known to Ute hunters and 19th century mountain men. Campgrounds, such as Meadow Lake and Deep Lake, are far removed from the 20th century. The challenge of reaching these campgrounds and their isolated locations makes each a delightful forest experience. Deep Lake campground has a particularly interesting claim - it was here that Teddy Roosevelt often made camp while hunting elk.

The ski resorts of Aspen and Vail attract thousands of winter-time visitors to the Forest but summer-time visitors also find a pleasant forest experience here. Lost Man campground, south of Aspen and west of Independence Pass, south of Carbondale, Gold Park campground, south of Vail, and Gore Creek campground, east of Vail, offer trailhead access to the wilderness areas of Collegiate Peaks, Maroon Bells-Snowmass, Holy Cross, and Eagles Nest, respectively. With clean vault toilets, good drinking water and spacious sites as well as comfortable summer temperatures, these campgrounds are popular with campers.

The White River National Forest has a long history of human use. Ancient Ute trails are in use today and illustrate the presence of native people. Old mines, pack trails, wagon roads, narrow and standard gauge railroad routes and various cabin ruins can be found throughout the Forest. One especially important cultural site is Camp Hale, the home of the 10th Mountain Division. The center of mountain and winter warfare training for the United States Army during World War II, Camp Hale is now the location of the Camp Hale Memorial campground (well-suited for RV and motorhome camping) and historic site. Plans are being made to develop the site into a recreation complex reflecting the diversity and demands of the training given at this site.

For diversity and convenience of recreation opportunities, Yeoman Park campground is the place. Stretching out along the edge of a wide valley, this camping location is a short distance from Fulford Cave, known for its challenges to spelunkers, the semi-ghost town of Fulford, and the Holy Cross Wilderness Area. The meandering East Brush Creek draws anglers and attracts a variety of wildlife, including a robust population of beavers, for excellent wildlife viewing. And the Discovery Trail, an interpretive trail for the senses, is entertaining and informative.

The eastern portion of the White River National Forest includes the Dillon Reservoir Recreation Area. Surrounding the Reservoir is a cluster of six developed campgrounds. The Dillon Reservoir, a short drive from Denver, is very popular and often crowded on summer weekends. With good fishing, several hiking trails, three boat ramps, an extensive network of bike paths, the attractions found in the nearby towns of Frisco, Dillon, and Silverthorne, and camp sites offering a variety of amenities, the Dillon Reservoir Recreation Area has something for everyone.

One of the best features of the White River National Forest is the range of developed campgrounds available. From "bare-bones" type, car and tent-friendly camping locations, such as Yeoman Park and North Fork, to campgrounds that are at the center of a recreation complex, like Camp Hale Memorial and Mollie B, and campgrounds like Redstone with both electric and water hook-ups and more RV and motorhome-friendly camping, the Forest reflects a continued commitment to diversity. Or perhaps the best is the diversity of its recreation opportunities. Fishing, hiking, biking, wildlife viewing, rock climbing, wilderness area, or ancient trails, photography, camping, and so much more can be found here. Come and see for yourself.

SUPERVISOR ADDRESS Old Federal Building Ninth St. & Grand Ave. P.O.B. 948 Glenwood Springs, CO 81602 970-945-2521 RANGER DISTRICT ADDRESSES Aspen-Sopris 620 Main St. P.O.B. 309 Carbondale, Colorado 81623 970-963-2266 Blanco 220 East Market Str. Meeker, Colorado 81641 970-878-4039 Dillon 680 Blue River Parkway Silverthorne, Colorado 80498 970-468-5400 Eagle 125 West 5th St. P.O.B. 720 Eagle, Colorado 81631 970-328-6388 Holy Cross 24747 Hwy. 6 P.O.B. 190 Minturn, Colorado 81645 970-827-5715 Rifle 0094 County Rd. 244 Rifle, Colorado 81650 970-625-2371

Fred and Suzi Dow