Arapaho National Forest, Colorado

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Arapaho National Forest

The Arapaho National Forest stretches across the Rocky Mountains; it was named after the Native American Tribes that once inhabited this treasured wilderness area, abundant with peaks, valleys and wildlife.

  • Hiking and camping opportunities exist within this national forest's impressive acreage, with two designated wilderness areas: Byers Peak and Vasquez.
  • Abundant with wildlife, campers, hikers and sightseers should be aware of moose, bighorn sheep, and bear, as well as a vast variety of other animals. Hike and camp responsibly. 

Overview

Named after the Arapaho tribe of Native Americans that used to populated much of Colorado, the Arapaho National Forest was established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908. The forest encompasses over 1,100 square miles (or nearly 724,000 acres), featuring high mountain peaks, woods, meadows and river valleys. Though the forest branches out over several counties and cradles the Continental Divide west of Denver, most of it can be found in both Grand and Clear Creek counties. In Grand County, two notable areas for hiking and camping are the Byers Peak Wilderness and the Vasquez Wilderness; visitors can expect to see a wide variety of wildlife, including bear, moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goats.

Location/Directions

Numerous access points are available through Grand and Clear Creek counties; check for specific details related to your exact destination.

Byers Peak Wilderness:

  • Old Bottle Pass and New Byers Peak Trailheads (East Access): From Winter Park, drive northwest on US Hwy 40 to Fraser; at the first stoplight (adjacent to Alco Shopping Center), make a left and drive south on County Road 72 for .2 miles. Turn right onto Fraser Parkway for .8 miles. Turn left onto County Road 73 and follow it for 7 miles. Stay on this main road and bear right and drive for another 3 miles before seeing the gate and trailhead.
  • Keyser Creek Trailhead (West Access): From Winter Park, drive northwest on US Highway 40, past Hot Sulphur Springs toward Parshall. Turn South onto County Rd. 3 and drive until you reach County Rd. 32 (FR-139), between mile markers 15 and 15 on County Rd. 3. Follow County Rd. 32 for 4.7 miles and turn right on FR-136 (toward Lake Evelyn and Bottle Pass Trail). The parking area and trailhead will be another 3.9 miles.
Vasquez Wilderness:
  • Easiest access from Forest Road 148, south of US 40, North of Winter Park: Once in Winter Park, turn north onto Vasquez Rd. and continue on this road - it eventually turns to dirt. Continue on about three miles until you see the main trailhead.

Activities

Hiking, biking, camping, fishing and sightseeing are primary activities available to visitors; check for specific details related to your exact destination.

Camping

There are thirteen campgrounds within the Arapaho National Forest that are within an hour's travel time from the Winter Park area; they are listed below in descending order from each campground's proximity to Winter Park: 

Idlewild Campground

  • Located south of downtown Winter Park, on US Hwy 40; turn left at campground sign into campground.
  • Rate: $14.00 per day
  • Sites: 23
  • First Come, First Serve
Robbers Roost Campground
  • From Winter Park, take US Hwy 40 South for 2.3 miles to campground on the left. (The campground sign is not visible from road.)
  • Rate: $14.00 per day
  • Sites: 11
  • First Come, First Serve
St. Louis Creek Campground
  • From Winter Park, drive Northwest on US Hwy 40 toward Fraser; take Eisenhower Dr. west .2 miles to Norgran Rd. turn left onto Norgran Rd. and go .1 miles to Mill Ave. Turn right onto Mill Ave., which becomes Country Rd. 73 in .1 miles, and go 2.4 miles to a 'Y" intersection (Forest Rd. 1601). Bear left onto Rd. 1601 and go .3 miles to campground.
  • Rate: $14.00 per day
  • Sites: 15
  • First Come, First Serve
Arapaho Bay Campground
  • From Winter Park, drive Northwest on US Hwy 40 toward Granby; drive through Granby and at the intersection of US Hwy 40 and US Hwy 34, take a right onto US Hwy 34 and drive 5.5 miles to Arapaho Bay sign (County Rd. 6/Forest Rd. 125). Turn right onto Rd. 125 and go 8.9 miles to campground sign. Turn left into campground.
  • Rate: $18.00 per day, single; $34.00 per day, double.
  • Sites: 80
  • Reservations: 1-877-444-6777 or www.recreation.gov
Denver Creek Campground
  • From Winter Park, drive Northwest on US Hwy 40 toward Granby; about two miles outside of Granby (going toward Hot Sulphur Springs), take a right onto Hwy 125. Drive on Hwy 125 for 12.6 miles to campground sign. Turn right into first section of campground or continue on Hwy 125 for another .2 miles to the second section on the left.
  • Rate: $15.00 per day
  • Sites: 21
  • First Come, First Serve
Green Ridge Campground
  • From Winter Park, drive Northwest on US Hwy 40 into Granby; drive through Granby and as you're leaving town, you'll see US Hwy 34 on the right. Take US Hwy 34 and drive 11.7 miles to campground sign (County Rd. 66/Forest Rd 274.) Turn right onto County Rd. 66/274 and drive 1.5 miles to another campground sign. Turn left at sign into campground.
  • Rate: $17.00 per day, single; $34.00 per day; double.
  • Sites: 74
  • Reservations: Call 1-877-444-6777 or on-line at www.recreation.gov
Stillwater Campground
  • From Winter Park, drive Northwest on US Highway 40 toward Granby. Drive through Granby and at the intersection of US Highway 40 and US Highway 34, take a right onto US Highway 34 and drive 8.6 miles to campground sign. Turn right into campground.
  • Rate: $20.00 per day, basic site; $23.00 per day, site near lake; $40.00 per day, double sites; $5.00 per day additional for water/electric hookups.
  • Sites: 83
  • Reservations: Call 1-877-444-6777 or on-line at www.recreation.gov
Sunset Point Campground
  • From Winter Park, drive Northwest on US Highway 40 toward Granby. Drive through Granby and at the intersection of US Highway 40 and US Highway 34, take a right onto US Highway 34 and drive 5.5 miles to Arapaho Bay/Forest Rd. 125 signs. Turn right and drive 1 mile to campground sign. Turn left at sign ad go .2 miles to another campground sign. Turn left at sign into campground.
  • Rate: $20.00 per day, single; $40.00 per day, double.
  • Sites: 24
  • First Come, First Serve.
Willow Creek Campground
  • From Winter Park, drive Northwest on US Highway 40 toward Granby. Drive through Granby and at the intersection of US Highway 40 and US Highway 34, take a right onto US Highway 34 and drive 5.2 miles to campground sign (County Rd. 40). Turn left at sign onto the dirt road of County Rd 40 and drive 2.7 miles to the Willow Creek Reservoir sign at 'T' intersection. Turn left and go 1.1 miles to campground sign. Turn right at sign into campground.
  • Rate: $17.00 per day
  • Sites: 32
  • First Come, First Serve
Mizpah Campground
  • From Winter Park, drive South over Berthoud Pass via US Hwy 40 toward Empire. Campground is 5.6 miles before the town of Empire, right off the highway. Turn right into the campground; it's located next to Clear Creek.
  • Rate: $11.00 per day.
  • Sites: 10
  • First Come, First Serve
South Fork Campground
  • From Winter Park, drive Northwest on US Highway 40 toward Granby, and then continue driving toward Hot Sulphur Springs. From Hot Sulphur Springs, continue West via US Hwy 40 about 4.1 miles to the Williams Fork Reservoir sign. Turn left at sign onto County Rd. 3 and go 18.2 miles to a 'Y' intersection. Bear left onto County Rd. 30 ad drive 5.5 miles to another 'Y' intersection. Bear right, passing through a Henderson Mill Industrial Area tunnel, to a 'T' intersection. Turn left and drive .2 miles to campground sign. Turn right at sign and drive .1 miles to another campground sign, and then another right at sign at campground sign.
  • Rate: $13.00 per day.
  • Sites: 21
  • First Come, First Serve
Sugar Loaf Campground
  • From Winter Park, drive Northwest on US Hwy 40 toward Granby, and then continue on to Hot Sulphur Springs. From Hot Sulphur Springs, continue West via US Hwy 40 about 4.1 miles to Williams Fork Reservoir sign. Turn left at sign onto County Rd. 3 and go 18.2 miles to a 'Y' intersection. Bear left onto County Rd. 30 and go 5.5 miles to another 'Y' intersection. Bear right, passing through a Henderson Mill Industrial Area tunnel, to a 'T' intersection. Turn left and go .2 miles to campground sign. Turn right at sign and go .6 miles into the campground.
  • Rate: $13.00 per day.
  • Sites: 11
  • First Come, First Serve
Guanella Pass Campground
  • From Winter Park, drive South via US Hwy 40 over Berthoud Pass toward Empire. Take I-70 West to Georgetown; once in Georgetown, take Guanella Pass Rd. south 8.6 miles to campground sign. Turn left or right into campground.
  • Rate: $14.00 per day.
  • Sites: $18
  • Reservations: 1-877-444-6777 or www.recreation.gov

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