Special Places

Spillway at Lake Marie.From open, vast, high expanses to valleys and canyons that rise steeply to snowy ranges, the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests encompass portions of five major mountain ranges. Within these ranges are dramatic topographic contrasts: 6,000 foot valleys rise to 12,000 foot peaks. The national forests are located along both sides of the Continental Divide.

Tributaries to the North Platte River and the Colorado River originate on the Routt National Forest. The national forests provide a mix of forested ecology with spruce, lodgepole pine, subalpine fir, aspen, and shrub lands. The Thunder Basin National Grassland is a semi-arid, shortgrass prairie with woody vegetation along rivers. Historic cattle and sheep grazing continues today.

The Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests and Thunder Basin National Grassland support tourism and contribute to the quality of life of residents of nearby communities. There are countless special places throughout the national forests and national grassland. Contact your nearest Forest Service office or visitor center for more information.

  • Fall Colors

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    Learn about fall colors from across the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests & Thunder Basin National Grassland, and find the best places near you to see changing colors using the Fall Colors Map.

  • Wilderness

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    Designated Wilderness areas are managed to preserve their natural conditions and wild character for present and future generations. They possess outstanding ecological, geological, scientific, educational, scenic, or historic values. All or part of ten designated Wilderness areas are located on the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests!

Highlighted Areas

Fish Creek Falls TH: Trail #1102

NOTE: The bridge at Fish Creek Falls Water Fall is closed until further notice for repairs. 

Trail Map

Fish Creek Falls Trailhead #1102 provides a great view of the waterfalls from a wheelchair accessible overlook trail and a dirt trail leading to the base of the falls. A historical bridge, which crosses Fish Creek, continues the trail 5 miles to Long Lake and connects to Trail #1101 and Trail #1032. Vault toilet are provided. Area open year round, providing snow shoeing and ice climbing in the winter months.

Vedauwoo Campground

alt=The campground is composed of two loops, winding around the boulders, slabs and cliffs of the Vedauwoo rock formation. The formation is made up of 10 square miles of weathered Sherman granite, providing lots of space to explore.  There are 28 campsites with tables, fire rings, trash pick up and vault toilets.  This area is constructed to blend in with the natural beauty of the surroundings.  The vegetation is a variety of Limber pine, Engleman spruce, Douglas fir, and Aspen. Potable water is available inside the RV campground, look for the water pump. There is access to rock climbing and a nature trail through the rocks.

The general area was once used as a hideout for outlaws. Native Americans thought playful spirits piled up the boulders.Some of the campsites are so secluded, one might feel the "outlaw's spirit." 

This site was approved for a fee change - Click here for more information

Big Creek Lakes Campground

6/3/2024: Currently there is no potable water, campers should come prepared with their own water. No date has been determined as to when it will have potable water again. 

Big Creek Lakes Campground is the most popular campground on The Parks Ranger District near Walden, CO. This campground offers 54 campsites and a day-use area and lake-side camping. 
24 of the campsites are under the reservation system and the remainder are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The units are situated next to Big Creek Lake, a scenic lake of 343 acres near the Mount Zirkel Wilderness. There are boating facilities and the lake is a popular destination area for camping and fishing. The wetlands around the lake are prime moose territory and moose are often seen near the campground.

The campground is 9,000 feet in elevation and summer temperatures are fairly cool. Numerous hiking trails are nearby, both in and out of Mount Zirkel Wilderness. Big Creek Lakes are 35 miles and about an hour drive northwest of Walden, CO. This area has been affected by the mountain pine beetle epidemic and has been logged in recent years.

NOTE: Water is generally not turned on at this campground until mid to late June, campers should come prepared with enough water.

FEE: Campsites are $10 per night and $5 per additional car per night.

This campground is managed by the Parks Ranger District in Walden, CO.
PHONE: 970-723-8204 

This site was approved for a fee change - Click here for more information

Brush Creek Visitor Center

Open on weekends in the summer, the Brush Creek Visitor Center is on the Snowy Range Scenic Byway, Hwy 130, near the west Forest boundary. This historic building was built by the CCC. Trailhead parking, a picnic table, toilet facility and a hiking trail are available. Stop and stretch your legs and talk with our knowledgeable volunteers about recreation opportunities in the area!

Bear Lake Campground

6/13/2024: Expected to open by June 15th.

The Bear Lake Campground is located 11 miles outside of Yampa, Colorado on Forest Service Road 900. The campground opens annually June 15th (sometimes later due to weather) and is set in a mixed conifer and aspen stand. You can find the typical range of outdoor recreation, from fishing and boating, to great hiking and also popular for big game hunting during the fall.

There are 43 campsites (3 double-site and 1 triple-sites), vault toilets, potable water, and trash services (seasonally). 

The Bear Lake Fishing Pier and Bear Lake Picnic Area are located within a short walk outside of the campground's entrance and are both free of charge for day use only. No camping allowed at day use area, however there are plenty of camping opportunities in the immediate area.  

Additionally, those interested in hiking can access Mandall Lakes, Smith Lake, and Stillwater Trailhead nearby within a short drive along Forest Service Road 900. The trailheads are all clearly marked with a sign and can be seen from the road. 

There is a boat ramp close by at Yamcolo Reservoir.

This site was approved for a fee change - Click here for more information

Ryan Park Campground

Ryan Park Campground is located at 8,009 ft elevation on the Snowy Range Scenic Byway near Saratoga, Wyoming. The campground is next to Barrett Creek in the Medicine Bow National Forest and features 49 campsites (13 RV pull-through sites) and 1 group campsite. Sites feature picnic tables and fire grates, and toilets, potable water, and trash services are accessible during the summer season. Pets are allowed but must be kept on a leash no longer than 6 ft at all times.

In addition to exploring the historic sites, visitors can enjoy hiking, mountain biking, fishing, picnicking (also available at nearby Mirror Lake), horseback riding and wildlife viewing.

The Civilian Conservation Corps used this site as a prisoner of war camp in the 1930s. Although little remains, visitors can learn more from the historic interpretive signs at the campground.

This site was approved for a fee change - Click here for more information

South Brush Creek Campground

South Brush Creek Campground is located on the west side of the Snowy Range along the shore of South Brush Creek and is a sunny campground composed of two sections located in a dense stand of Lodgepole pines, fir and Aspen trees next to South Brush Creek. The campground has 20 sites, with 6 pull-through sites for trailers under 25 feet. Amenities include picnic tables, fire grates, toilets, trash service, and a camp host on site, and water is available late May through mid September. Pets are allowed but must be kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet and under control at all times. Many hiking, OHV, and fishing opportunities are available in the area.

This site was approved for a fee change - Click here for more information

Esterbrook Campground

Nestled within a pine forest along a broad ridge, north of Laramie Peak, Esterbrook Campground is a terrific jumping-off point for recreating in the Laramie Peak Unit of the Douglas Ranger District. There are 12 widely separated campsites in a lightly wooded, rocky area, along with 2 vault toilets and potable water. There are 2 non-motorized access spurs from within the campground to the Sunset Ridge Trail and the OHV parking and Trailhead are just 1/2 mile to the west on FSRD 633. Along with the many trails open to all vehicles located within the Esterbrook area, are the Black Mountain Lookout Tower (OHV or walking recommended) and the Harris Park Trail which are located to the south off of FSRD 633.

This site was approved for a fee change - Click here for more information

Stillwater Trailhead

6/13/2024: Trailhead is reachable, however trails remain 70% under snow still with drifts in areas that receive little sunlight. Generally melted out by Early to Mid-July.

The Stillwater Trail head offers hikes into the Flat Tops Wilderness and passes Little Causeway Lake at 1.0 mile. The trail then quickly climbs and reaches the top of the Bear River/Williams Fork Divide at 2.3 miles. Here is where a primitive trail splits off and ascends to the Devil's Causeway.

The East Fork Trail then switchbacks down into the Williams Fork drainage to reach Causeway Lake at 5.7 miles. At mile 7 is Round Lake and the junction with the Lost Lakes Trail No. 1116 which accesses the West Lost Lake Trail No. 1103. The trail then continues downstream and reaches the junction with the Black Mountain Creek Trail No. 1117 at mile 8.9. The trail comes to a crossing of the East Fork Williams Fork River at 10.5 miles and the Northern junction with the Lost Lakes Trail No. 1116 shortly after. This crossing is often impassible during spring runoff. At 13 miles is the junction with the Transfer Trail No. 1172. The trail continues, leaving the Wilderness, down past the Pyramid Guard Station and meets the East Fork Trailhead.

Bear River Trail No. 1120 – This 3.3 mile trail begins at the registration/information board off the East Fork Trail. The trail follows the Bear River up into the Flat Tops Wilderness and reaches Mosquito Lake at 1.5 miles. The trail then climbs before reaching 11,400 feet and ends at the junction with the Little Trappers Lake Trail No. 1814 and the Chinese Wall Trail No. 1803.

North Derby Trail No. 1122 – This 2.2 mile trail crosses the Stillwater Dam and enters the Flat Tops Wilderness. After passing some ponds, the trail begins to quickly ascend towards the ridge. At 11,200 feet the trail ends at the junction with the Edge Lake Trail No. 1879 and the Hooper Lake Trail No. 1860. The Hooper Lake Trail gives access to Hooper and Keener Lakes.

There is no camping allowed within ¼ mile of Hooper and Keener Lakes.

No camping or campfires within 100ft of all streams, lakes, and trails.

The alpine vegetation in the Flat Tops is very fragile, PLEASE do not take short cuts and stay on the trail as this causes more resource damage.


Mirror Lake Picnic & Fishing Site

Mirror Lake is a popular picnic and fishing stop on the Snowy Range Highway. The site offers 15 picnic tables with scenic views near the base of Medicine Bow Peak. It provides lakeside access for fishing and a short, paved walking trail to the West Lake Marie Trailhead. Other popular hiking trails in the area include the Medicine Bow Peak, Lake Marie Falls, Lakes Trail and Miners Cabin Trails. This site should not be missed if you are traveling along the Snowy Range Scenic Byway. No services mid-September through June.

This site was approved for a fee change - Click here for more information

Lincoln Park Campground

This campground is three miles off the Snowy Range Scenic Byway (Hwy 130) beside North Brush Creek. Lincoln Park campground is situated at 7,800 feet elevation and offers a great base camp to explore the Medicine Bow National Forest. It includes 12 campsites suitable for trailer, tent, and RV camping. Sites include picnic tables and fire grates, and  potable water, toilets, and trash services are accessible during the open season. 

Stump Hollow Trail, Cedar Creek Trail, and Kennaday Peak are popular OHV destinations and trails nearby. Kennaday Peak offers a panoramic view of the area. To plan your trail riding, check out the Motor Vehicle Use Map to ensure that you ride safely and legally.

Other activities include fishing in nearby streams that support populations of brook and brown trout. Hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, hunting, picnicking, winter sports, and wildlife viewing opportunities abound in the Snowy Range area.

This site was approved for a fee change - Click here for more information

La Prele Guard Station

La Prele Guard StationThis is part of a district compound built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1936 to house the LaPrele District Ranger and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Guard Station is the only building available for rent at this time. It offers 2 bedrooms that sleep up to 8 people, a full bath, large kitchen and living/dining room with a stone fireplace. There is limited electricity to the cabin, as well as a propane water heater, refrigerator and stove, and the fireplace is adequate for heating the cabin. 

All cleaning supplies are provided, but you need to bring bedding and towels, and it's customary to bring additional drinking water. We ask that you pack your trash out and clean the cabin upon departure.

This site was approved for a fee change - Click here for more information