Campgrounds full for Fourth

Early reservations and high demand flood popular weekend

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If you go

Campground information

- Steamboat Lake State Park

- Stagecoach State Park

- Reservations for campsites at state parks: 303-470-1144

- Steamboat Campground or 970-879-0273

- Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests and Thunder Basin National Grassland: www.fs.fed.us/r2/mbr/ or 970-879-2299.

The local Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests and Thunder Basin National Grassland office, at 925 Weiss Drive, will be closed Friday. Campers should visit today to pick up maps and information, or call 879-2299. The office's Web site is www.fs.fed.us/r2/...>

Campground closures

As of July 1:

- Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest:

Brush Creek/Hayden Ranger District: 307-326-5258

Silver Lake Campground: 17 sites, closed

Hog Park Campground: 50 sites, closed

Deep Creek Campground: Delayed because of snow, opening date unknown.

- Hahn's Peak/Bears Ears Ranger District: 970-870-2299

Seedhouse Campground: 22 sites, partially closed

Seedhouse Group Campground: 25 sites, closed

Seedhouse Trailhead: 26 sites, closed for the season

Granite Campground: 12 sites, closed for the season

Granite Picnic Ground: 7 sites, closed for the season

Summit Lake Campground: Delayed until July 15

Hahn's Peak Lake Campground: 10 sites, closed

- White River National Forest:

Dillon Ranger District: 970-468-5400

Blue River Campground: 24 sites, closed

Prospector Campground: 107 sites, closed

Source: Mary Ann Chambers, spokeswoman for the Rocky Mountain Region Bark Beetle Incident Management Team

Open campgrounds

Dumont Lake, Dry Lake, Hinman Park and part of Seedhouse will be open.

All roads are open except Forest Service Road 60, Buffalo Pass above second gate and FSR 310, from Buffalo Pass to Fish Creek Reservoir, until July 15.

Source: Diann Ritschard, National Forest spokeswoman

— If you don't already have a campground for the July 4 weekend, odds are you're out of luck.

Stagecoach and Steamboat Lake state parks, along with Steamboat Campground, are all booked for the weekend and have been for some time. Some national forest campgrounds remain open, but at least 17 in the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest are closed during the weekend because of snow or beetle-killed trees.

Ellie Hennes, visitor center technician at Steamboat Lake, said the occupancy numbers for the weekend aren't finalized, but it's clear that it will be full.

"We're going to have a waiting list on Friday and Saturday for sure," she said, adding that it's not unusual for the campgrounds to fill during holiday weekends.

All 155 campsites that are open at the lake are expected to fill up fast, and online booking for Friday night was closed by Wednesday afternoon.

Bridge Island will remain closed during the holiday as logging of beetle-killed pine continues, Hennes said. Pearl Lake, a short drive down Routt County Road 129 from Steamboat Lake, will remain closed for camping until logging there is complete. The two yurts there that are open already are booked for the weekend, Hennes said.

Stagecoach State Park Ranger Mark Lehman said all 92 sites at the park are booked for the weekend and have been for some time.

"If they're staying with us for the Fourth of July, they got their site about six months ago, which is the maximum you can reserve a site ahead of time," he said.

He said that it's normal for summer weekends for the park to be completely booked.

Lehman said there are no special restrictions on this weekend, but he said fireworks, including sparklers, continue to be off limits in all state parks. There are no special fire restrictions announced for this weekend, but fires at Stagecoach must remain in the designated fire rings.

Closer to town, Steamboat Campgrounds has "absolutely nothing" available for Friday, Saturday or Sunday, said front desk clerk Christian Benton.

Benton said all 150 sites filled up about a month ago, and the campground nearly is booked for Labor Day.

Campground closures

Of the campgrounds that aren't booked, a number in the national forests will be closed because of the beetle-killed trees that loom in the area.

In the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest, 17 campground sites are fully or partially closed, or their openings delayed.

Mary Ann Chambers, spokeswoman for the Rocky Mountain Region Bark Beetle Incident Management Team, said campers should always call before they head to a campground to make sure it's open.

"I tell people all the time what they need to do before they leave is call the district ranger where they're going and find out if their campground or favorite hiking place is going to be open," she said. "It should be a regular part of what you do when you go camping, just like throwing your sleeping bag in your car is a regular part of what you do."

Among the campgrounds closed nearest to Steamboat Springs, the Seedhouse Campground is partially closed, while the Seedhouse Group and Seedhouse Trailhead campgrounds are closed. Hahn's Peak Lake Campground is also closed for construction and tree removal. The Granite Campground and Granite Picnic Ground are closed for the entire season, while the Summit Lake Campground will not open until July 17 because of snow.

Chambers said people camping in areas with beetle-killed trees should always watch weather reports before they leave because high winds or storms can topple beetle-killed or rotted trees. Fireworks also are illegal in all national forests.

National Forest spokeswoman Diann Ritschard warned that campers should scout where trees will fall and only park or pitch their tent in areas out of the danger zone.

"If the wind's blowing, you may not want to be in an area where you can see a lot of dead trees," she said.

This is also the season for wildlife to bring their young out, and Ritschard said campers should not approach the animals under any circumstances.

"The Routt National Forest is home to the wildlife, and if you're traveling in the Routt National Forest, don't try to approach a fawn if you see it by itself. Its mom is nearby; it's fine, don't approach it," she said.

The awareness of wildlife is especially important for dog owners, she said.

"Don't ever, ever let your dog chase the wildlife," she said. "That includes chipmunks and squirrels and frogs and everything."

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