Reservations for Routt County area campgrounds have changed for summer 2022
Forest Service not considering permits for popular areas yet
The reservations system for popular Routt County campgrounds at Seedhouse, Hahns Peak Lake and Dumont Lake has changed for the summer of 2022, with the addition of three sites at those campgrounds that are reservable two weeks in advance.
Additionally, campgrounds that previously didn’t have reservations, such as Hinman Park, Meadows and Dry Lake campgrounds, will soon have some reservable sites.
“Our forest, in general, is looking at how we can be more efficient in managing recreation more effectively,” said Brendan Kelly, recreation specialist with the U.S. Forest Service. “We just found that it’s a little better to have more sites at different campgrounds have reservations with some different booking windows.”
Not only does that allow for more people to plan ahead and be confident they have a campsite waiting for them, but it means the Forest Service is collecting more funds through electronic payments rather than cash. All reservations will continue to be made through recreation.gov.
“It actually is a more efficient process for us,” Kelly said. “It reduces the amount of the cash fee collection process we have to do. We’re able to spend more time in the field, servicing sites and engaging with the public.”
Additionally, having sites with a two-week booking window allows more last-minute planners to experience campgrounds even if all the other reservable sites have been booked for months.
Once those sites at the Meadows and Hinman Park and Dry Lake start having reservations, which is expected to be in the spring, they too will appear on recreation.gov, allowing more people to learn of the lesser-known camping options.
Requiring users to have a permit to access a trail or area of forest or wilderness has proven to be a successful way to keep negative effects of overuse at bay at popular locations like Hanging Lake, Quandary Peak, and Rocky Mountain National Park.
There isn’t a location in the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests that requires a permit right now and Kelly doesn’t see that changing in the near future.
“It is a management option that we could consider. It’s not at the top of our list right now for recreation planning,” Kelly said. “As use increases and if there are pretty good sized impacts occurring from really concentrated use like that, then that’s a tool we could use.”
Kelly said permits are usually one of the last tools used because the Forest Service doesn’t want to limit access to the land it manages. Also, enforcing a permit system would be difficult as it would require extra time and staff.
Ahead of the change, 15 of the 24 sites at Seedhouse Campground were reservable six months in advance. Now, 18 require reservations while the rest remain first-come, first-serve sites. At Dumont, 17 of the 22 sites are now reservable and at Hahns Peak Lake Campground, 20 of the 26 sites require reservations.
This is the first time the Forest Service has done a two-week reservation window, Kelly said. He’s curious to see how it plays out considering the six-month booking window is their most popular.
“We’re going to see how that goes and if it’s popular,” he said. “If it’s not popular, we’ll change it to something different.”
Shelby Reardon is the assistant editor at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach her, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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