DescriptionIn north-central Colorado past and present coexist within the 1,280,000 mountainous acres of the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests, which embrace some of the higher and more visited areas of the region. Creaking ghost towns in the Arapaho region set off lively ski resorts, and the rotted roadbeds of abandoned narrow-gauge railways contrast with the well-maintained highways that provide access to this rooftop of the continent.
One of these modern routes, the road to the 14,260-foot summit of Mount Evans, is part of a popular day trip from Denver. The highway, SR 5, is commonly known as Mount Evans Highway or Mount Evans Road. Note: There is a $10 fee per private vehicle to use the developed sites located along the Mount Evans Road and the Summit of Mount Evans. The Indian Peaks and Mount Evans wilderness areas can be explored on foot or horseback; camping permits are required at Indian Peaks. Trout fishing is available in the many lakes and streams as well as in Granby and Green Mountain reservoirs. Hunting is available in season with a valid license.
Major winter sports developments within the forests are Eldora Mountain Resort, Loveland Ski Area and Winter Park Resort. An alpine slide, mountain bike trails and chairlift rides also are available.
In a region dotted with alpine lakes and divided by high mountains and deep canyons, Roosevelt National Forest sits along the eastern slope of the Rockies. Numerous small glaciers, remnants of ancient ice fields, and the backcountry areas afford magnificent scenery and varied recreational facilities.
Scenic SR 14, the mountainous route over Cameron Pass and along the Cache La Poudre River, provides access to the adjoining Routt National Forest. A second scenic route, the Peak to Peak National Scenic Byway ( SR 7/72/119), connects Estes Park with the mining communities of Black Hawk and Central City.
Another scenic route, the Colorado River Headwaters, follows the Colorado River 75 miles westward from SR 34 in Grand Lake, SR 40 in Kremmling and along CR 1 in State Bridge.
The fragile uplands of the Rawah Wilderness are accessible only by foot or horseback. Hunting for deer, elk, mountain sheep and bears is permitted in season with a valid license. Other wilderness areas include Byers Peak, Cache La Poudre, Comanche Peak, James Peak, Neota, Never Summer, Ptarmigan Peak, Vasquez Peak and Mount Evans. Motorized vehicles are not permitted in wilderness areas.
The almost 200,000 acres of the Pawnee National Grassland are widely scattered in two units east of Fort Collins. Restored from the devastation of the 1930s dust bowl, the short-grass prairie is inhabited by more than 200 species of wildlife, including falcons, hawks, prairie dogs and coyotes. Hiking, camping, horseback riding and bird-watching are popular activities.
The Pawnee Pioneer Trails is a scenic route that winds 125 miles east from Ault, Colo., along SR 14 and various county roads. In Weld County, contact Pawnee National Grassland, 660 O St., Greeley, CO 80631-3033, for additional information, or phone (970) 346-5000.
The U.S. Forest Service has a visitor information office at 2150 Centre Ave., Building E, Fort Collins, CO 80526. Phone (970) 295-6700 for information or (877) 444-6777 for campground reservations. District offices are also at 2140 Yarmouth Ave. in Boulder, (303) 541-2500; at 2060 Miner St. in Idaho Springs, (303) 567-4382; and at 9 Ten Mile Dr. in Granby, (970) 887-4100.