IMG_1512Let’s Go Camping!

Visitors to the Flat Tops Byway go hunting, hiking, horseback riding, and enjoy the outdoors in many different ways. In some cases, developed campsites are not available, or they may be full. Increasingly, many visitors seem to prefer avoiding a nightly fee for camping in a developed campground. In this case, “dispersed camping” (as it is called by the U.S. Forest Service) is a great alternative to developed campgrounds.

Public lands (like those found on the White River National Forest) belong to all of us, and typically there are no fees for enjoying National Forest lands. Dispersed camping is permitted in most locations accessible from the Flat Tops Scenic Byway. Unlike developed campgrounds, which are designed and maintained to protect the vegetation, soils, and natural settings; camping in undeveloped areas requires help from the camper to keep the site in the condition in which it was found. Like in campgrounds, dispersed campsites are restricted to a 14-day limit.


Please help us preserve dispersed camping privileges and protect the natural condition of these areas by following these guidelines:


Choose an area that is at least 100 feet from any lake, stream, river or trail (this is now the law on National Forest lands in Colorado). To lessen impacts on vegetation and soil, select a site with hard ground instead of meadows or easily damaged locations. Make use of existing camp spots instead of creating a new site whenever possible.


Camping within ¼ mile of the North Fork Road (FDR #8 & #295, from the forest boundary at Lost Creek Guard Station to Trappers Lake Campground) and within ¼ mile of County Road 12 is prohibited from May 1 through October 1. Also know that dispersed camping is prohibited and illegal within ½ mile of any Forest Service developed campground or where otherwise signed.


Driving further than 300 feet off the road is prohibited. Campsites must not damage the land, vegetation or streams. Do not cut live timber or clear brush to access your site.


For short trips, take a supply of drinking water from home or another domestic water source. For longer trips, boiling water for a minimum of 5 minutes is the most effective treatment for waterborne disease organisms. A longer boiling time may be required for higher elevations.


Using a camp stove has less impact on the environment and provides fast, clean cooking heat. If you must use a campfire, make sure there are no restrictions on campfires. When finished with your site, pack out unburned trash – leave site clean for the next campers. Campfires must be located at least 100 feet from lakes, streams and trails. Never leave a campfire unattended. When through with the fire, make sure it is dead out.


Any possession, storage, or transportation of hay on Forest land must be certified free of noxious weeds and seeds. Pelletized feed or grain products are allowed; hay pellets/cubes must be produced from weed free sources (save the bag for proof) and grain must be rolled or ground. Please remember, no hay is allowed in the Wilderness.


Select a suitable screened spot at least 100 feet away from water and trails. Dig a small hole 6 to 8 inches deep. After use, fill the hole with the loose dirt and tramp in the sod with your foot. Toilet paper should be burned or packed out.


Pack out all trash, cans, bottles, aluminum foil and anything that will not burn completely. Please do not bury garbage or trash.