Several dispersed camping areas in Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest will temporarily close due to overuse, abandoned campfires, littered trails, trampled vegetation, and polluted waters.
"National Forest visitors created thousands of new campsites as they pulled off roads and damaged resources, trampling vegetation and compacting soils with tents, campers and vehicles," stated K. “Reid” Armstrong Public Affairs Specialist. "Visitors built hundreds of new rock campfire rings and negatively impacted municipal water supplies with human waste and trash."
The Forest Service has targeted the following five undeveloped areas for temporary closures while exploring long-term management solutions:
1. Vasquez Creek and Little Vasquez Creek (South of Winter Park)
A temporary closure order will go into effect for one year, prohibiting camping within a quarter-mile on either side of Vasquez and Little Vasquez. The closure comes following water pollution from campers using the ground as a restroom as well as wildfire concerns from escaped campfires.
2. Maxwell Falls (Southwest of Evergreen)
Maxwell Falls has been designated as “day use only” for the next five years. Due to unextinguished campfires left behind by "campers and late-night partiers," camping or starting a campfire in the falls area will be prohibited between sundown and sunrise.
3. Rainbow Lakes Road (Northwest of Nederland)
A one-year camping ban will be enacted within a quarter-mile of either side of Rainbow Lakes Road. Camping along the road was overused last year, with the number of visitor-created campsites skyrocketing, trash, trampled vegetation, and overcrowded parking.
Camping will still be allowed in the campground and in the designated dispersed campsites at Caribou.
4. Ceran Saint Vrain (West of Jamestown)
Camping will be prohibited for one year within a quarter-mile of the South Saint Vrain Creek due to illegal parking, unattended fires, trash, and human waste. The Forest Service identified more than 70 campsites created by visitors along the two-mile stretch of the hiking trail. Most of the sites were located within 100 feet of the creek, sparking water quality issues.
5. Winiger Ridge (West of Gross Reservoir)
Camping will be off-limits for two years at Winiger Ridge due to unattended campfires, trash, resource damage from off-road driving, as well as trespassing on private property. Visitors have recently pushed closer to the reservoir and created new campsites along several county roads, making it difficult for emergency services and firefighters to access.
Several forest closures remain in place for the Williams Fork Fire, East Troublesome Fire, and Cameron Peak Fire.
Visitors are encouraged to plan ahead and research the weather forecast, road and trail conditions, and campsites a bit before they go. For the most accurate recreation information, please check the Forest’s Know Before You Go webpage.