Summit County campsites in White River National Forest open for Memorial Day |

Summit County campsites in White River National Forest open for Memorial Day

The Prospector Campground at Lake Dillon, one of nearly a dozen local campsites open for Memorial Day in the Dillon Ranger Distrcit of the White RIver National Forest.
Dillong Ranger District / Special to the Daily |

Be weather wise

This May has been nothing but wet in Summit County and across Colorado. Before opening campsites for the holiday, local ranger districts give travelers a few tips to protect the environment — and your sanity.

Travel only on designated roads — See those mud puddles on the shoulder? They look tempting, but they’re not made for motorized travel.

Avoid snow patches — Right now most high-elevation patches don’t look deep, but they’re likely covered with an ice crust that easily snares vehicles.

Turn around before you get stuck — Low-lying bridges and roads might still be waterlogged. If you run into one, head back the way you came.

Bring your rain gear — This includes rainflys for tents, rain tarps for picnic tables and waterproof clothing.

Be ready for wind — Wind tends to follow rain. When you set up camp, be sure to stake tents and tarps.

Have a “Plan B” — Sour weather shouldn’t ruin your holiday. Bring a few indoor diversions like playing cards, board games and that sweater you’re knitting.

For outdoor junkies, camping on Memorial Day is a rite of passage.

Then again, so is starting a fire or pitching a tent in the pouring rain, and just about everyone who heads out this holiday weekend will likely tackle all three.

Summit County is in the midst of a sopping-wet month — one of the rainiest Mays on record in fact — and the forecast calls for another rainstorm or two before the weather turns.

But White River National Forest can’t be brought down by Mother Nature’s rain dance. At 2.3 million acres, White River is home to more than a dozen local campgrounds and hundreds of singletrack trails, along with more than 50 other campgrounds spread across five ranger districts.

Before heading out, here’s a quick-hit guide to what’s open and what’s closed across White River (the Rifle area not included). Site fees differ from campground to campground, but all are due 30 minutes after arriving. Be sure to bring cash.

Dillon Ranger District

Here in Summit’s home district, late snowfall and 20-plus days of rain since May 1 have kept sites wet and soggy. But it hardly matters. Of the 12 local campgrounds with toilets and water, only two won’t open in time for the holiday crowds.

In the Dillon Reservoir area, all six of the concession-managed campgrounds are taking campers, including Heaton Bay, Peak One, Pine Cove, Prospector, Lowry and the Windy Point group campground.

Up north around Green Mountain Reservoir, four out of six campgrounds are open: Cow Creek South, Prairie Point, Elliot Creek and McDonald Flats. The Willows and Cow Creek North sites are both closed due to wet roads prone to heavy damage.

Between Dillon and Green Mountain, Cataract Lake campground in the Eagles Nest Wilderness and Blue River campground along the Blue are also open.

Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District

Our neighbors on the west side of Vail Pass are dealing with the same bizarro conditions as Summit. Be wary of rutted roads and muddy conditions just about everywhere.

For tent campers, Eagle-area sites at Fulford Cave and Sweetwater Campground are open, along with Loop B of Yeoman Park. Loop A at Yeoman is closed until snow melts completely. All tent campgrounds are $8 per night this weekend.

The majority of concession-managed sites are also open, including Gore Creek, Camp Hale Memorial, the East Fork group site and Hornsilver. Hook-ups at Hornsilver are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Aspen-Sopris Ranger District

To the south, the majority of campsites in the forests surrounding Aspen Mountain, Snowmass and Carbondale are open. Only Lost Man and the south loop of Chapman Campground are closed for the weekend.

Tent campers have access to all three campgrounds at the Maroon Bells scenic area.

Blanco Ranger District

Roads and campgrounds in the Meeker area are still thawing out, particularly at higher elevations, but five low-lying sites are open: East and Main Marvine campgrounds, Hines Peak Campground, North Fork Campground and South Fork Campground. Both Main Marvine and North Fork also have running water.

For travelers, portions of Buford Newcastle Road are passable, along with the road to Trappers Lake. The campsite there is closed for another week or two.

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