Tips for being knowledgeable during your outdoor adventure:
- Obtain current condition information about the area from the local managing office.
- Tell someone where you are going and when you will be back.
- Check in with them upon your return.
- Sign in and out at trailheads to wilderness areas and have a plan in case you don't return as planned.
- Be aware of any current bans or restrictions.
- Out of courtesy, camp away from a campground if your group wants to be loud or stay up after 10 p.m.
- If camping in an area of high-use, choose obviously existing campsites instead of creating new ones.
- In remote areas, choose campsites that cannot damage resources, such as plants, by your stay.
- All campsites should be at least 200 feet from water or trails; know if special rules exist in the area.
- For cooking, use a lightweight gas stove rather than a campfire; do not place stones in a ring.
- In areas where fires are permitted, use a fire pan or the leave no trace pit or mound methods.
- Completely extinguish a fire before leaving it unattended or you will be in violation and subject to fines.
- Replace the ground of your pit or spread out your mound when leaving a camp where you've had a fire.
- Dig a 6- to 8-inch hole, 200 feet from water to deposit human waste in; replace dirt when finished.
- Carry out all toilet paper along with other refuse that may leave a trace that you were ever there.
- Pick up all your trash and any that others left behind.
- Leave flowers, artifacts, picturesque rocks and snags for others to enjoy. Take photos. Leave footprints.
- Before you leave, take one last look at where you have been and do your best to leave no trace.
Source: Wendy Holden of the Hahn's Peak/Bears Ears Ranger District
Steamboat Springs Whether you prefer to car camp or backpack into a remote location, there are lots of choices for recreational visits to the Routt National Forest.
From developed sites in campgrounds to dispersed camping inside and outside of the Sarvice Creek, Flat Tops and Mount Zirkel Wilderness areas, campers have many choices. Access to backcountry camping is the main niche of the Routt National Forest; however, car and RV camping options are available also near Steamboat Springs, east of the Continental Divide in North Park near Walden, in North Routt, out west in California Park and in Moffat County north of Craig, extending down into South Routt in the Dunckley and Beaver Flat Tops, and along Lynx and Gore Passes. Check out the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests Web site at www.fs.fed.us/r2/mbr for specific information on recreational and camping opportunities.
Forest Service campgrounds are rather primitive, but include amenities such as picnic tables, fire rings, Dumpsters, vault toilets and, in some locations, a seasonal water system. Camp sites cost between $10 and $12 per site. If you prefer to just spend the day in the forest, visit a day-use area, where fees are $5 per vehicle. Dispersed camping is permitted on public lands; however, it is your responsibility to be aware of any current fire restrictions; to be sure you do not create resource damage such as ruts off the road; to set up camp at least 200 feet from any trail or stream and not to drive off the road (one car width to maximum of 300 feet). Changing weather conditions may alter the location you have chosen so be sure to move your vehicle to the roadside if dry ground becomes saturated or wait until it dries out again.
Campgrounds typically are open from July 1 through Oct. 1, weather permitting, with the higher country opening up in beginning to mid-July. The Routt National Forest offers backcountry camping in many settings. To help plan your trip, call the Steamboat office at (970) 879-1870, Yampa office at (970) 638-4516 or Walden office at (970) 723-8204 for visitor information or current conditions. To see if there is a possibility to reserve a campsite, check online at www.recreation.gov or call the National Recreation Reservation Service toll-free at (877) 444-6777.