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White River National Forest Camping

History Of The White River National Forest

Chapman Campground – White River National Forest

In October 1891, the White River Plateau Timberland Reserve, the precursor of the White River National Forest, was set aside by executive order of President Benjamin Harrison. It was the first such designation in Colorado and only the second in the nation. At the time, it covered more than 1.1 million acres of land and was overseen by just one supervisor and three rangers.

In 1901, the White River hosted Vice President Teddy Roosevelt on one of his big game hunting expeditions based out of the Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs. Roosevelt was successful in killing a trophy mountain lion that measured eight feet in length and weighed in excess of 220 pounds. Following an Act of Congress in 1905, forest reserves were renamed national forests. It was at this time it became known as the White River National Forest.

In 1932, with the opening of Hayden Peak, a ski area near Aspen, the White River National Forest took the first step toward becoming the home of some of the most renowned ski areas in the country and the world.

White River National Forest Offers Tips For Enjoyable Dispersed Camping

Posted: May 25, 2021 / 02:07 PM MDT

Posted: May 25, 2021 / 02:07 PM MDT

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. With a larger number of campers expected on the White River National Forest this holiday weekend, forest officials have some suggestions for those hoping to camp outside of developed campgrounds, also called dispersed camping.

Dispersed camping is allowed throughout much of the White River National Forest if some basic rules and practices are followed.

Dispersed camping within 100 feet of lakes, streams, and forest system trails is prohibited. Visitors are permitted to drive vehicles up to 300 feet from designated routes for purposes of dispersed camping as long as no resource damage is incurred in the process. This includes vegetation trampling, so visitors should stick to previously disturbed routes.

With so many people camping in the forest, we really want people to keep their camping footprint small, said Matt Henry, acting recreation program lead. Whenever possible, use an existing campsite rather than creating a new one. Remember that the best campsites are found, not created.

Campers may stay for a maximum of 14 days in any 30-day period in most areas.

Visitors hoping to find an area to camp should plan ahead and arrive early for their best chance at obtaining a site and come prepared with a Plan B or C in case the first option is full.

Welcome To The White River National Forest

2.3 million acres of public land in the heart of the Colorado Rockies

The White River National Forest is a world-renowned recreation destination home to iconic destinations such as Maroon Bells and Hanging Lake, 11 ski resorts, 10 peaks over 14,000 feet, and eight wilderness areas that cover more than a third of its acreage. Traveling through its five ranger districts, you can explore the classic Colorado Rocky Mountains of the Gore, Tenmile, Sawatch and Elk Ranges as well as the distinctly unique Flat Tops.

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Literally Anywhere Not Within 200 Feet Of A Trail

Why you should camp here: You can literally camp anywhere.

  • Reservations: Definitely not
  • Best season: Spring, summer, fall, winter
  • Campsite type: Backcountry tent, hammock, bean bag chair, whatever you want to carry out.
  • RV hookups: Ha. No.

OK, this is only here because its good information to know. On land managed by the United States Forest Service, camping is allowed pretty much anywhere. There are exclusions, obviously, like no camping within 200 feet of a trail or waterbody or within .25 miles of a shelter or hut. Check out all the regulations here.

Wilderness And Backcountry Camping

White River National Forest (dispersed camping outside Gypsum CO) # ...

When camping in the backcountry – camping and fires are prohibited:

  • Within 200 feet of trails and water bodies.
  • Within 1/4 mile of backcountry facilities .
  • In the alpine zone – where trees are 8 feet or less.
  • Please consult the Forest’s Backcountry Camping Rules.
  • Be certain to view the Recreation Conditions Report for the most current trail and camping information.

Forest Protection Area – Know Before You Go

Forest Protection Area are potentially overused or fragile areas of the Forest where use restrictions are applied. Restrictions may include limits on camping use, use of wood or charcoal fires, and limits on party size.

Specific areas are identified below and should be referred to if planning a visit:

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Lakes Of The Clouds Hut

Why you should camp here: Good luck drinking your morning coffee somewhere with a prettier view.

  • Reservations: Required
  • Campsite type: Hut
  • RV hookups: No

Lakes of the Clouds Hut is likely the Appalachian Mountains most well-known hut. Its the highest and most visited one due to its popular location along the trail to Mount Washingtons summit. You can also summit Mount Monroe, hike the famous Tuckerman Ravine, or traverse the Presidential Range in its entirety from this jumping-off point.

When you stay here overnight, the fee covers your dinner, bunk, and breakfast the next morning. Its the best of backpacking because you dont have to worry about a tent or food . Its popular though, so expect to be sharing the space with strangers. Need something to talk about? The hut is rumored to be haunted. Dont forget your headlamp if you plan to play Ghost Hunters at night.

The Adventure At Hand

It wasnt the camping trip I had imagined. I had hoped for a clear sky in the middle of the night to capture nightscape photography. I had dreamed of s mores by the campfire. I thought about being able to feel my toes when I woke up in the morning. But that is why you go camping.Not to live out your expectations but to embrace the challenges that come with it. To learn to lean into the unknown and embrace the beauty that is there right in front of you. Dont hold onto the beauty you dreamed up in your head.

Even though I didnt get the shot I had in my head, I got some pretty amazing ones Ill cherish. Ones with golden light and fields of wildflowers that I had no idea I would see. And now, I have a reason to go out into the unknown again. For the chance to grab that perfect nightscape shot Ive been dreaming of.

Katie Leigh

Bonjour, I’m Katie Leigh. I wear many hats but I call myself an artist and slow living advocate. Here on this blog, you’ll find me writing about living intentionally and my life in the slow lane. If you want articles like these sent directly to your inbox sign up for my newsletter with the form in the righthand sidebar!

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White River National Forest

horseback ridingOHV trailshikingfishingbikinghunting

The Blanco Ranger District manages 352,917 acres of National Forest land and is responsible for management of the historic Flat Tops Wilderness, which encompasses approximately 235,406 acres. The elevation ranges from 6,500 to 12,000 feet with nine improved campgrounds, maintained picnic facilities, and an abundance of well marked trailheads providing access to solitude in the backcountry wilderness. Once you are in the forest, resources are very limited, so plan accordingly. Lodges in the area offer a large variety of rooms and amenities. Please remember to pack out your trash and leave these beautiful areas better than you found them!

Epic Camping Spots In White Mountain National Forest

Lost Man Campground White River National Forest, CO

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Within White Mountain National Forests 750,000 acres, youll find nearly endless woodlands, alpine lakes, and the highest mountain in the Northeast.

There are also 48 4Kers within New Hampshires White Mountain National Forest. Many visitors come here repeatedly to bag all 48 summits, but its not just peakbagging thatll lure you to the White Mountains.

You can fish in the parks dozens of lakes or visit a gorge carved by ancient molten rock and constant erosion. You can also check out some Polar Ice Caves in the dead of summer to beat the heat, or swing by Story Land or head up the Cog Railway to the summit of Mount Washington if you need a break from sweating for one day.

The White Mountains are also known to occasionally have some of the worst weather in the country, so watch the forecast. Mount Washington has clocked wind speeds up to 231 mph and at least 135 people have died trying to make it to the summit. So come prepared with the right gear if youre going to be on mountain summits. And while youre unlikely to have winds that strong at your campsite, youll still want some stakes and extra layers to sleep in.

Grab an interagency pass before heading out so you can snag some discounted entry fees. Make sure to also buy a New Hampshire Hike Safe Card to ensure youll be set in case of emergency.

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Chapman Campground And Group

Situated above the Ruedi Reservoir, Chapman Campground sits at the base of a wide valley adjacent to the Fryingpan River in White River National Forest.Sites are surrounded by lodgepole pine, and several are at the river’s edge, offering an ideal setting for visitors seeking recreation and relaxation.

Chapman Campground has 84 standard sites suitable for tents, trailers, and RVs. A group site is also available.The campground is equipped with picnic tables, campfire rings, vault toilets, and drinking water. Electrical hook-ups are not available.Trash and recycling collection is provided.

Camping Near You Find A Free Campsite

Whether you just need to know where to camp nearby or you want to plan a free camping road trip, we’ve got you covered. You can simply use your smart phone’s GPS to find camping near you or even use our trip planner to plan your route from coast to coast.

Our community provides the best free camping information available. Free campgrounds can be hard to find. makes it easy. We give you a simple, map based search engine to find free and cheap camping areas. Community reviews and ratings provide you with up to date information and help you select the best camp site for your next camping trip.

This is a platform for sharing campgrounds and camp sites you have discovered. We are community driven, and while we will be adding many free camping spots, we hope that you will add some of your favorite camping places as well. By sharing camping information freely, we can all spend less time researching campgrounds, spend less money, and more time camping. If everyone contributes a few campsites, we’ll all have more places to go camping.

Please come back and let us know what you find!

We are not actively seeking Wal-Marts, truckstops or other parking lots and will not be adding very many of these. There are enough Wal-Mart and truck stop directories out there already. However, if a member of the community finds one of these locations to be useful for overnight RV parking and creates an entry, we may approve the listing.

Please come back and let us know what you find!

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