GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. — With a larger number of campers expected on the White River National Forest this holiday weekend, forest officials have some suggestions for those hoping to camp outside of developed campgrounds, also called dispersed camping.
Dispersed camping is allowed throughout much of the White River National Forest if some basic rules and practices are followed.
Dispersed camping within 100 feet of lakes, streams, and forest system trails is prohibited. Visitors are permitted to drive vehicles up to 300 feet from designated routes for purposes of dispersed camping as long as no resource damage is incurred in the process. This includes vegetation trampling, so visitors should stick to previously disturbed routes.
“With so many people camping in the forest, we really want people to keep their camping footprint small,” said Matt Henry, acting recreation program lead. “Whenever possible, use an existing campsite rather than creating a new one. Remember that the best campsites are found, not created.”
Campers may stay for a maximum of 14 days in any 30-day period in most areas.
Visitors hoping to find an area to camp should plan ahead and arrive early for their best chance at obtaining a site and come prepared with a Plan B or C in case the first option is full.
“Wherever you are camping, be sure to put fires out completely and pack out all garbage,” Henry said. “Last year we consistently encountered abandoned campfires and large amounts of trash left behind from dispersed campers.”
Black bears are present throughout the White River National Forest, so campers should be bear aware by keeping a clean camp and by not leaving food, coolers and other attractants out when not in camp.
Forest officials remind campers to think about the people who will be camping in the same spot after them by using self-contained waste disposal systems whenever possible or by burying human waste at least six inches deep as a last resort, and by cleaning up after their pets. Some areas may have additional special restrictions related to dispersed camping, which is available at local ranger district offices. Additional information about dispersed camping is available at www.fs.usda.gov/whiteriver.