National Forest sites and campgrounds reopening in phases |

National Forest sites and campgrounds reopening in phases

National Forest trailheads in the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests and Thunder Basin National Grassland are still open, but soon, facilities and campgrounds will be open too as the Forest Service opens them in a phased approach.
Shelby Reardon/Steamboat Pilot & Today

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests and Thunder Basin National Grassland is opening developed recreation sites in a phased approach that began June 1. 

Any trailhead that is accessible is open, but soon facilities such as fee collection sites, bathrooms and trash bins will be available as well. The National Forest shutdown sites in late March due to public health concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. The Forest Service has not been charging day use fees or maintaining parking lots during the closure, which lifted May 31. 

Due to loosening public health orders and snowmelt, popular facilities around Routt County will open in the coming weeks. 

“I don’t have a specific date, but we are prioritizing opening Fish Creek Falls and Hinman Campground, and we’re targeting the early part of this month,” said Tara Umphries, Hahns Peak/Bear Ears District ranger. 

Next on the list of priorities are Freeman Campground and Dry Lake Campground as well as Hahns Peak Lake. 

Campgrounds are not yet open in any site run by the Hahns Peak/Bear Ears District, but that isn’t atypical for early June, since snow is still melting in many locations. 

“Our campgrounds are on a phased opening in a more traditional sense — that when conditions allow we will be able to open them,” Umphries said. “Typically, we wouldn’t open many of our campgrounds until the snow is gone or later in the summer season.”

The Bear Lake Campground in the Flat Tops Wilderness is marked as open on the website, although most campgrounds in the area are dependent on accessibility. For current information, call the Yampa Ranger Station at 970-638-4516.

When sites do open, capacity might be limited to follow statewide health orders regarding COVID-19.

Roads around Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests are slowly opening as the conditions permit, with specific dates and road numbers marked on a Motor Vehicle Use map that can be found online. 

On April 7, the acting regional forester implemented fire restrictions in the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests and Thunder Basin National Grassland, which have since been lifted. Still, people must follow general fire safety and be aware of any fire restrictions that may take effect. 

Forest Service Fire Safety
  • Scrape back dead grass and forest materials from your campfire site.
  • Keep your campfire small and under control; make it only as big as you need it.
  • Keep a shovel and a water container nearby to douse escaped embers.
  • Put your campfire dead out before leaving your campsite or going to sleep.
  • Always follow current fire restrictions.

Additionally, the Forest Service is asking people to abide by the state’s safer-at-home order, which asks people to travel only within their community.

For updated information, call the Hahns Peak/Bears Ears Ranger Station in Steamboat Springs at 970-870-2299.

To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.

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