Roosevelt National Forest, Colorado

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Roosevelt National Forest

The Roosevelt National Forest is located in northern Colorado; the Cache La Poudre river is laden with trout and is labeled as Colorado's only designated Wild and Scenic River.

  • Colorado's only designated Wild and Scenic River, the Cache la Poudre, runs through the Roosevelt National Forest, and two sections are considered "Wild Trout" waters, where certain fishing regulations apply.
  • The Roosevelt National Forest is one of our nation's oldest national forests, dating back to 1897.


The Roosevelt National Forest is one of the oldest national forests in the United States; it started out as part of the Medicine Bow Forest Reserve in 1897, and in 1910, it was called the Colorado National Forest until it was finally renamed in honor of President Roosevelt in 1932 by President Hoover. Covering almost 814,000 acres, it connects with the Colorado State Forest as well as the Arapaho National Forest, and it is administered jointly with the Arapaho National Forest and the Pawnee National Grassland.

A bird's eye view of this National Forest would reveal its layout, stretching down from the Wyoming border and then enveloping the town of Estes Park, along with the north, south and east sides of its famous neighbor, Rocky Mountain National Park, before cradling the western side Continental Divide to meet with the Arapaho National Forest. There are several wilderness areas within its bounds, including the Cache la Poudre, the Neota, the Rawah, and Comanche Peak. Elk, bear, and mountain lions are found at most any elevation within this forest, while Cameron Pass is a common place to see big horn sheep and moose gravitate around the Rustic, Colorado area.

The Roosevelt National Forest has the privilege to hold Colorado's only designated wild and scenic river, The Cache la Poudre; its majestic beauty is how it landed this unique designation, and special rules and regulations help to keep this river and its inhabitants at their healthiest. Two sections of this river are considered 'Wild Trout" areas, where certain regulations apply to protect the indigenous cutthroat trout. Though trout fishing is very popular in this river, kayaking and rafting down this river's many class III and IV rapids are also sought-after past times. The Big Thompson River also flows through a great portion of this national forest, emerging from Forest Canyon within Rocky Mountain National Park and traveling east into Estes Park, CO; it is held in Estes Lake by the Olympus Dam before being released into the Big Thompson Canyon.

Sightseers often drive the length of Cameron Pass; it is 101 miles of paved road, rising to a max elevation of 10,276 ft. This road travels through North Park toward Walden. The Poudre Canyon is a narrow, glacier-formed canyon that runs about 40 miles, through mountains and along the Cache la Poudre river; many hiking, fishing and rafting opportunities are available within its gently sloping canyon walls.


Stretching across north central Colorado, it reaches the north and east sides of the Rocky Mountain National Park, along the east side of the Continental Divide, on the Front Range in Larimer County (including the upper section of the Cache la Poudre and Big Thompson Rivers) and Boulder County, and forested areas within the Poudre Canyon and norther Gilpin.

The two governing ranger stations for the Roosevelt National Park:

  • Canyon Lakes Ranger District: 2150 Centre Ave., Fort Collins, CO 80526 Telephone: 970-295-6600
  • Boulder Ranger District: 2140 Yarmouth Ave., Boulder, CO 80301. Telephone: 303-541-2500


Trails abound through the Roosevelt National Forest, with hundreds of miles through a variety of terrain. A few of the most popular trails: Crosier Mountain Trail, Flowers Trail, Horsetooth Mountain Park, Killpecker Trail, Mount Margaret Trail, North Line Pine Trail, Roaring Creek Trail, and Youngs Gulch.

The Cache la Poudre 'wild and scenic' river has brown, rainbow, brook and cutthroat trout and many parts of this river are considered designated 'Wild Trout' areas to protect its only native trout, the greenback cutthroat. In these areas, artificial lures must be used and catch and release is practiced. The Big Thompson River also allows fisherman to cast within its waters. For more details on fishing areas and regulations, please contact the Colorado Division of Wildlife: 970-472-4300 or The many mountain lakes and streams have salmon and trout, and the Joe Wright Reservoir is also a destination for fishermen; it is located near the northwest corner of Rocky Mountain National Park.

Horseback Riding
Many trails allow horseback riding; check with the trail's closest ranger station for more information.

Boating, Rafting, and Kayaking
Many lakes, streams and rivers are watercraft-friendly; check with the ranger station that is closest to your destination for details. Many rafting outfits are available to book rafting trips.

Check with the Colorado Division of Wildlife regarding hunting areas, permits and game regulations: 970-472-4300 or

Snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing
Many forest areas allow snowmobiling and most any other designated trail that allows hiking will permit cross-country skiing. Check with the Ranger District that is closes to your destination to check accessible areas, rules and regulations.


Of the 22 campgrounds within the Roosevelt National Forest, these six campgrounds are the closest to the Winter Park area (depending on which campground, could be anywhere from about a 1.5 to 2.5 hour drive) and are governed by the Boulder Ranger District.

Rainbow Lakes

  • From Nederland, CO, drive North on State Rd. 72 for 6.1 miles to Forest Rd. 298 (the University of Colorado Mountain Research sign). Turn left onto Rd. 298 and drive 7 miles to campground sign. Turn right into campground. (Note: This road is not maintained well, so RV's should travel at their own risk.)
  • Rate: $15-$30 per day
  • Sites: 16
  • First Come, First Serve

Peaceful Valley

  • From Nederland, CO, drive North on State Rd. 72 for 16.8 miles, where you'll see a Peaceful Valley/Camp Dick sign. Turn left at sign onto a narrow road and drive .2 miles into campground.
  • Rate: $21-$42 per day, depending on site.
  • Sites: 17
  • For Reservations: 1-877-444-6777 or Book Online  
  • From Nederland, CO, drive North 10.9 miles until you see the Brainard Lake Recreation Area sign. Turn left onto Forest Rd. 112 and drive another 5 miles to the campground.
  • Rate: $21-$42 per day.
  • Sites: 54
  • For Reservations: 1-877-444-6777 or Book Online  
Meeker Park Overflow
  • From Winter Park, drive Northwest on US Highway 40 into Granby. On the outskirts of Granby, US Highway 34 intersects with US Highway 40; take a right onto US Highway 34 and drive about 16 miles to Rocky Mountain National Park. Continue to drive through Rocky Mountain National Park about 50 miles until you get to Estes Park. From Estes Park, CO drive South 6.8 miles on State Rt. 7 to the Meeker Park Picnic Area and Roosevelt National Forest signs. Turn right into the campground.
  • Rate: $12 per day
  • Sites: 28
  • First Come, First Serve
  • From Nederland, CO, drive South 1.5 miles on State Rd. 199/Rt. 72 until Rt. 72 bears to the left. Continue straight on Rt. 119 for .07 miles to campground sign. Turn left into campground.
  • Rate: $21 per day.
  • Sites: 45
  • For Reservations: 1-877-444-6777 or Book Online  
Camp Dick
  • From Nederland, CO, drive North for 16.8 miles on State Rd. 72 until you come upon the Peaceful Valley/Camp Dick sign. Turn left at sign onto a narrow road and drive .9 miles into campground.
  • Rate: $21-$42.
  • Sites: 40
  • For Reservations: 1-877-444-6777 or Book Online