Memorial Day weekend brings many visitors to the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland, especially along the Front Range foothills. While this holiday historically kicks off the summer camping season, snow is still deep at the higher elevations in the mountains around Fort Collins, Boulder, Idaho Springs and Granby; and spring rains and snowmelt have left many roads and trails wet, muddy and snow-packed.
Lower elevation hiking trails above 8,000 feet still have mud and snow patches. Most trails at higher elevations above 10,000 feet will remain snow-packed until later in June or early July.
Many National Forest System roads remain closed this time of year due to mud or snow. Make sure to check the latest road information before heading out and the Motor Vehicle Use Map is a good resource, as well as our local visitor centers. These maps are also available as a cell phone app from Avenza at www.pdf-maps.com. Also note that following spring rains, roads on the Pawnee National Grassland can get slick and occasionally impassible.
Many National Forest campgrounds open May 25. While nearly all of the reservable campsites are already booked, some campgrounds do offer first come, first served spots. These typically fill by Thursday night for the holiday weekend. For a full list of campgrounds, reservations and opening dates please visit www.fs.usda.gov/goto/arp/campinglist. Reservations should be made at www.recreation.gov. Please note, recent snow has impacted some campground opening dates.
With many roads closed, dispersed camping locations may be a bit more limited. If dispersed camping, pull off the road fewer than 300 feet in a way that does not obstruct traffic or damage the ground. No overnight camping is allowed at trailheads or picnic areas. Some areas only allow camping in designated areas or not at all. The Motor Vehicle Use Map is a good guide for where to disperse camp.
A great source of information for those planning a trip to the forest is our Forest Service website. Most National Forest visitor centers will be closed for Memorial Day Weekend, so plan your trip early.
Make safety your top priority when heading into the forest. Check weather before heading out. Remember your safety is your responsibility. Respect all signs and trail closures; follow all regulations; and take precaution in flood damaged and mountain pine beetle impacted areas, and have a great weekend!