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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
The general area was once used as a hideout for outlaws. Native Americans thought playful spirits piled up the boulders. All the tent sites are walk-ins and some of them are so secluded, one might feel the "outlaw's spirit." There is access to rock climbing and a nature trail through the rocks.
Big Creek Lakes Campground is the most popular campground on The Parks Ranger District. This site offers 54 campsites and a day-use area. Twenty four 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.
Open on weekends, the Brush Creek Visitor Center is on the Snowy Range Scenic Byway, Hwy 130, near the west Forest boundary. Trailhead parking, a picnic shelter, toilet facility and a hiking trail are available. Stop and stretch your legs.
The Bear Lake Campground is located 11 miles outside of Yampa, Colorado on Forest Service Road 900. (Adjacent to Bear River, between Yamcolo Reservoir and Stillwater Reservoir. NOTE: Although the campground is adjacent to the lake, the campsites do not offer a view of the lake or the Flat Tops. *A few sites do offer partial views of the towering black cliffs that identify the wilderness boundary.* (Those desiring sites with water and Flat Tops view can find that among any of the Bear River Designated Developed sites outside of the campground along the road.)
The Bear Lake Fishing Pier and Bear Lake Picnic Area are located within a short walk near the campground's entrance and are both free of charge for day use. 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.
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.
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.
NOTE: Esterbrook Work Center does not have public water sources. Campground water pump is for campground users.
6300' elevation. 12 sites in a lightly wooded area. 14 day stay limit. Non-motorized access to the Sunset Ridge Trail is available at two points within the campground. An OHV trailhead is 1/2 mile down the NFSR 633 road to access the motorized trail system. It is located in the Laramie Peak area and is managed by the Douglas Ranger District.
The Stillwater trailhead serves multiple trails leading into the Flat Tops Wilderness:
North Derby, Trail #1122: This trail begins by crossing over the dam and leads to Hooper and Keener Lakes and intersects with further trails on the White River National Forest.
East Fork Trail #1119: This trail starts along the Bear River Trail #1120 and then forks off onto Trail #1119 about a mile from the trailhead.
The trailhead offers a small parking area with a vault toilet. Fishing is available at Stillwater Reservoir with a Colorado Fishing License. If hiking this area, one can expect a great deal of snow from October through late June due to its elevation. Hiking prior to late June will require any hiker to come well prepared for snow and wet and muddy conditions. Parking is very limited and parking in the campgrounds is not permitted without a paid campsite.
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 easy 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 thru June.
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 is part of a district compound built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1936 to house the LaPrele District Ranger. The entire compound is on the National Register of Historic Places. The house is the only building available for rent at this time. The house offers two bedrooms, a full bath, large kitchen and living/dining room with a stone fireplace. Although there is no electricity to the cabin, there is a propane water heater, refrigerator and stove. Generally the fireplace upstairs is adequate for heating the cabin during the summer. There is sleeping room for 10 people, and for overflow, there is room for some trailers and tents, with Campbell Creek Campground just 100 yards down the county road.
All kitchen/bathroom/and cleaning supplies are provided; just bring food, drinking water and bedding/towels. We ask that you pack your trash out and clean the cabin after yourselves.
This is a very special place and everyone who loves it would like to keep it that way.
It is located in the Laramie Peak area and is managed by the Douglas Ranger District.