Camping will look different this year in one of Colorado's most beautiful mountain valleys.
Dispersed camping is coming to end for six popular backcountry drainages nestled in the Crested Butte Valley. To ensure a sustainable future for both recreational camping and the natural beauty of backcountry, officials will begin to transition dispersed camping areas to designated camping sites only for backcountry areas along Slate River, Washington Gulch, Kebler Pass, Lake Irwin, Brush Creek, Cement Creek, and Gothic Roads.
"The changes will help to reduce impacts to the landscape and natural ecosystems, as well as the development of non-system routes, and sanitation issues," the press release states. "Designated sites will also help contain campfires to reduce forest fires."
Starting this spring, camping will only be allowed at designed sites in areas along Slate River and Washington Gulch Roads. These same restrictions will be rolled out across five additional camping areas this summer and fall including Kebler Pass, Lake Irwin, Brush Creek, Cement Creek, and Gothic Roads.
Designated camp sites will be marked with a two-foot-tall 6x6 post. Attached to the post will be a camping symbol along with an associated site number. Permanent metal fire rings will also be installed at each designated site.
According to officials, the goal is to have more than 200 valley wide sites designated come spring 2022.
Signage will be installed along the roadsides directing visitors toward designed camping areas, camping information, and notifying them when no camping areas lie ahead.
The United States Forest Service (USFS) has partnered with the Gunnison Valley Sustainable Tourism and Outdoor Recreation (STOR) committee to help carry out these new plans and fund the designated camping project.
Visitors are encouraged to have backup plan in the event that all the designated sites are full, especially during peak travel times. For the latest information on dispersed camping in the Crested Butte Valley, please visit https://crestedbuttemountainbike.com and https://gunnisoncrestedbutte.com.