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Camping in the Fall

Trailhead conditions, directions, roads, parking, camping, etc. Trailhead Info/Status
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Camping in the Fall

Postby Talmadge » Tue Sep 18, 2012 6:31 pm

My brother and I are headed out to camp and climb some 14ers at the end of September. We normally camp in the summer but didn't realize many campgrounds are only open through Labor Day. I'm wondering what the policy is if a campground is closed. Are the facilities just limited or are you unable to camp there at all. Any information would be helpful. Thanks!

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Re: Camping in the Fall

Postby Mountain Jon » Wed Sep 19, 2012 5:32 pm

National Forests are your friend.. \:D/ As long as it doesn't say you can't camp there, you can!

Enjoy!

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Re: Camping in the Fall

Postby mike_kadow » Wed Sep 19, 2012 5:38 pm

Nat'l Forests are your right to hike, camp, and whatever in. As long as you're a US citizen.
Er.., someone will come along and correct me I'm sure (I'm interested in learning about it too).

Re: Camping in the Fall

Postby MonGoose » Wed Sep 19, 2012 6:06 pm

If the campground is closed, you cannot camp there.

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Re: Camping in the Fall

Postby gasman » Wed Sep 19, 2012 6:23 pm

I believe if a National Forest campground is closed, it just means that some of the services won't be available. I camped at the Elbert Creek Campground after the Labor Day closing and there were several other people camping there. No one said anything about not being able to camp there.

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Re: Camping in the Fall

Postby Papillon » Wed Sep 19, 2012 7:17 pm

Somebody explain to me why the two NF campgrounds along CO 82 between Twin Lakes and the La Plata TH were closed and gated shut the weekend of the 7th/8th. That is a prime color area, low elevation, and within the winter access boundary.

I like the way they run Lost Man on the west side of Indy Pass. I was there last Halloween and it was gated but there was a sign that read:

"Campground Closed. Those on foot and skis are welcome to use our facilities."

So I took a dump in the vault as opposed to the trees, had a fire in a ring as opposed to the Lost Man TH parking lot, etc., etc.
The look in his eyes when it hit - Kid, it was tasty... - William Seward Burroughs

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Re: Camping in the Fall

Postby coloradokevin » Wed Sep 19, 2012 7:42 pm

Papillon wrote:Somebody explain to me why the two NF campgrounds along CO 82 between Twin Lakes and the La Plata TH were closed and gated shut the weekend of the 7th/8th. That is a prime color area, low elevation, and within the winter access boundary.

I like the way they run Lost Man on the west side of Indy Pass. I was there last Halloween and it was gated but there was a sign that read:

"Campground Closed. Those on foot and skis are welcome to use our facilities."

So I took a dump in the vault as opposed to the trees, had a fire in a ring as opposed to the Lost Man TH parking lot, etc., etc.


I believe a lot of this has to do with the fact that the national forest system is letting private companies operate their campgrounds these days. At a time in the not too distant past I found that many Summit County campgrounds were open under the method you described (on foot). Then, once the USFS started to sell the operating rights to these places, the policies quickly changed. This hunch of mine was also confirmed by a ranger at one point around that time, though I don't know what the driving factor in these decisions is today (the ranger said the policy change occurred because the contractors were being held responsible for the cleaning and upkeep of the land that they lease, and they don't want to pay to maintain the places outside of the tourist season).

But, from what I can tell, it seems like they only keep the campgrounds open for as long as they can reasonably expect to fill them. I used to love camping in the fall when the campgrounds weren't too full, but most of them are now closed after Labor Day. I've camped at some of them after closing time, but others have pretty firm warnings that such activity is not allowed.

Honestly, the best bet these days seems to be at-large dispersed camping elsewhere on the forest.

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Re: Camping in the Fall

Postby Papillon » Wed Sep 19, 2012 7:59 pm

coloradokevin wrote:I believe a lot of this has to do with the fact that the national forest system is letting private companies operate their campgrounds these days. At a time in the not too distant past I found that many Summit County campgrounds were open under the method you described (on foot). Then, once the USFS started to sell the operating rights to these places, the policies quickly changed. This hunch of mine was also confirmed by a ranger at one point around that time, though I don't know what the driving factor in these decisions is today (the ranger said the policy change occurred because the contractors were being held responsible for the cleaning and upkeep of the land that they lease, and they don't want to pay to maintain the places outside of the tourist season).

But, from what I can tell, it seems like they only keep the campgrounds open for as long as they can reasonably expect to fill them. I used to love camping in the fall when the campgrounds weren't too full, but most of them are now closed after Labor Day. I've camped at some of them after closing time, but others have pretty firm warnings that such activity is not allowed.

Honestly, the best bet these days seems to be at-large dispersed camping elsewhere on the forest.


Thanks for the post. I figured the mess people may or may not leave would come into play. I just wish they would leave the bathrooms unlocked but if people trash the area, what can you do?

I remember spending a week at "Whitetail" located 17 miles outside of Hill City, SD in early May 2001. The campground was free, there was a warning that trash pickup only occurred once a week, etc.

I stayed at "Atherton Creek" right outside the Tetons in late September 2003. The campground was closed but the concessionaire was still there getting ready to shut it down. He allowed me to stay there for three nights, just asked me to close the gate every time I came and went.

Man, those were the days.
The look in his eyes when it hit - Kid, it was tasty... - William Seward Burroughs

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Re: Camping in the Fall

Postby peter303 » Thu Sep 20, 2012 7:12 am

Papillon wrote:Somebody explain to me why the two NF campgrounds along CO 82 between Twin Lakes and the La Plata TH were closed and gated shut the weekend of the 7th/8th. That is a prime color area, low elevation, and within the winter access boundary.

Some campgrounds are undergoing dead beetle tree rehabilitation.

I've seen some national forest areas adjacent to vacation homes in the Aspen and Beuna Vista closed off. I dont know if the FS or property owners doing it.

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