Description - The White River National Forest encompasses two and one-quarter million acres of Colorado's central mountains, including many of Colorado's resort destinations. The scenic beauty of the area, along with ample developed and undeveloped recreation opportunities on the Forest, accounts for the fact that the White River consistently ranks as one of the top five Forests nationwide for total recreation use.
Copyright: USDA Forest Service
Maroon Bells in early autumn
- The scenic beauty of the area, along with ample developed and undeveloped
recreation opportunities on the Forest, accounts for the fact that the White
River consistently ranks as one of the top five Forests nationwide for total
recreation use. The Forest provides an excellent variety of recreation
opportunities in all seasons. Visitors can enjoy eleven ski areas, eight
designated wildernesses, several National Trails, approximately 70 Forest
Service administered developed sites (campgrounds, picnic grounds, boat
ramps and observation sites) and over two and one-quarter million acres for
general motorized and non-motorized backcountry enjoyment.
Fall in the
White River National Forest is brief but spectacular, as changing aspens cloak
the mountains in gold. Peak color time, while variable, is normally the last
part of September. Crisp, sunny days mingle with early snowstorms in what
many consider the premier season of the year.
Recreation - Popular recreation activities on the White River National Forest include downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, developed and dispersed camping, jeeping, sightseeing, hunting, fishing, hiking, boating (including sailing and white water rafting) snowmobiling, picnicking, biking,horseback riding and backpacking.
Outstanding downhill skiing and snowboarding opportunities await you at Arapaho Basin, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Buttermilk, Copper Mountain, Keystone, Ski Sunlight, Snowmass and Vail ski areas, all of which are located on the White River National Forest. Also enjoy nordic skiing near Frisco, at Ashcroft, as well as on the Tenth Mountain, USSA/Alfred Braun and Summit Huts and Trails Systems. Snowmobile recreation opportunities are available in many national forest locations. The Fourmile Park and Flat Tops areas are among the most popular.
Climate - The elevation of the White River National Forest ranges from 5,000 to 14,000
feet. Most of the campgrounds are between 5,400 and 10,000 feet. Persons
coming from lower elevations should be aware that time is needed to adjust
to the higher elevations.
Warm days and cool to freezing nights
can be expected in the mountains during the summer. July and August are
usually the warmest months. During this time afternoon thunderstorms are
common. Be prepared for both warm and chilly weather, as well as for rain
Winter brings the abundant powder snowfall for which Colorado
is famous. Most winter recreation, including skiing and snowmobiling, occurs
between Thanksgiving and Easter, but high-elevation sites offer good snow
much later into the spring. Safe winter travel in the backcountry demands
respect, knowledge and preparedness to deal with changing weather
conditions and avalanche hazards.
The two and one-quarter million acre White River National Forest is located in the heart of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, approximately two to four hours west of Denver on Interstate 70. The White River encompasses much of the area from the Continental Divide, west to Rifle and from Meeker, south beyond Aspen. It includes much of the area around some of Colorado's well known destinations such as Breckenridge, Vail, Glenwood Springs and Aspen.