Updated Forest Order for Camping and Campfires on Winiger Ridge

Release Date: May 26, 2023

As visitation has grown on Winiger Ridge in Boulder County, so have issues such as abandoned campfires, poor sanitation, resource damage and negative human-wildlife encounters. To address these issues, the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests & Pawnee National Grassland managers are extending a closure order on camping along Winiger Ridge. The order will continue to prohibit camping outside of the designated-dispersed campsites, and adds restrictions that limit campfires to the permanent fire rings provided at each site. The updated order will help visitors have safe and enjoyable outdoor experiences this summer while protecting wildlife and water quality and reducing the risk of wildfires.

Located just west of Gross Reservoir, the Winiger Ridge and County Road 68J area is valued for its recreational opportunities near the Denver Metro area. However, the location also has challenges that need to be addressed for public and wildlife safety. Winiger Ridge is a critical elk winter range and features sensitive wildlife habitat and watersheds. Additionally, the area is a high-risk fireshed that requires intensive mitigation, such as the recent Forsythe II Prescribed Burn.

“The intent of this order is to enhance recreation opportunities along Winiger Ridge while protecting natural resources in surrounding areas,” said Boulder District Ranger Kevin McLaughlin. “After enacting this order in 2021 to limit camping to designated sites, we’ve continued to see rock fire rings and unattended campfires.”

Forest visitors are only permitted to have campfires within the permanent fire rings and grates provided at each designated campsite. By prohibiting all camping and campfires outside of the designated campsites, forest visitors may continue to enjoy campfires while reducing wildfire risk from unattended campfires and rock-rings. Eventually, more designated dispersed campsites and fire rings may be added to meet higher demand.

In addition to the fire restriction, the updated order also adds a geographical extension to include the area between County Road 68J and Winiger Ridge Road and all National Forest lands within the Gross Reservoir Recreation Area. The area is shown in the map below, and can also be found on our website. This updated order provides consistency across jurisdictions and allows the Forest Service and its cooperators, including Denver Water Board and Boulder County Sheriff’s Office, to enforce restrictions uniformly across jurisdictional boundaries.