Rawah Wilderness: Arapaho & Roosevelt

Alpine lake in Rawah Wilderness.

Located on the southern end of the Medicine Bow Mountain Range in north central Colorado, Rawah Wilderness was designated by the Wilderness Act of 1964 and now contains 73,868 acres. "Rawah" is a Native American term meaning "wild place."

Elevations in the Rawah Wilderness range from 8,400 to 13,000 feet. The high peaks were carved by glaciers, resulting in spectacular cirque lakes and moraines. There are twenty-five named lakes, ranging in size from five to 39 acres. This high alpine area contains the headwaters of the McIntyre, Rawah, and Fall Creeks, as well as the Laramie River.

The Rawahs are host to mammals such as elk, moose, mule deer, black bear, bighorn sheep, marmot and beaver. There are many species of birds including the red-tailed hawk, white-tailed ptarmigan, golden eagle, raven, Steller's Jay and a variety of warblers. Lakes and streams are inhabited with lake, cutthroat, rainbow and brown trout. Graylings are also found in this area.

The Rawah Wilderness is very popular with summer backpackers, hikers and anglers. It is also popular with hunters in the fall. To encounter the fewest people, plan your trip for mid-week and use less popular trails.

Always use Leave No Trace techniques to help keep this area wild, clean and pristine. 

At a Glance

Usage: Medium-Heavy
Restrictions: Wilderness regulations apply
  • Motorized equipment, or mechanized transportation is prohibited, including motorcycles, chain saws, bicycles or carts. Wheelchairs are exempt.
  • Group size is limited to 12 people and/or livestock combined.
  • Camping and campfires are prohibited within 200’ feet of all lakes, streams and trails to protect water quality, sensitive vegetation and to help assure solitude. Thin soils and mountain vegetation are easily damaged by fire and fires scar rocks and soil. Use a stove, a fire pan or an existing fire ring when and where fires are allowed.
  • Campfires are prohibited in the alpine areas above 10,800 feet. Campfires consume scarce vegetation and leave permanent scars on the fragile soils of the area.
  • Pets must be on a handheld leash at all times if hiking. Equestrian riders can have dogs under voice control.
  • Certified weed-free forage is required on all public land. Only pelletized or steam-rolled feed grains, or certified weed-free hay, straw, or mulch are allowed.
  • Stock:
    • must not be hobbled, tethered or picketed within 200’ feet of any lakes, streams or trails. This protects fragile vegetation and keeps lakes and streams clean.
    • are prohibited on the Blue Lake trail between May 15 and September 15. Between September 16 and May 14, stock animals are prohibited within the Blue Lake closure area except for through travel on the trail.
  • Camping is prohibited within one-quarter mile of Blue Lake and Hang Lake. Do not camp or use a fire in re-vegetative sites. These areas are seeded with native, high-altitude grasses and need protection to grow.
Closest Towns: Walden, Colorado; Northgate, Colorado; Laramie, Wyoming
Water: Treat all non-potable water before consuming.

General Information

General Notes:

Topo maps

Forest Service Topography Maps: These maps overlay Forest Service assets, such as roads, trails, and campgrounds, on USGS's topographic maps. They are available for download by quadrangle.

Buy maps online

National Forest Store: Offers a full, nationwide selection of National Forest, Ranger District, Wilderness, and Specialty Maps for purchase online or by phone, fax, and mail.

Colorado’s Fourteeners

Find more information about climbing Colorado’s peaks at the Rocky Mountain Region 14ers page.


Go to Wilderness.net for additional maps and information.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


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