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Medicine Bow and Routt National Forests

The Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests extend from north central Colorado to central Wyoming.

These forests encompass portions of many mountain ranges including the Gore Range, Flat Tops, Parks Range, Medicine Bow Mountains, Sierra Madre, and Laramie Range.

The Forests provide year-round recreation opportunities for thousands of people. They also provide wildlife habitat, natural resources, timber, forage for livestock, and are a vital source of water for irrigation, domestic use, and industry.

The topography varies greatly within the Forests due to the large geographic area encompassed. Elevations range from 5,500 feet to 12,940 feet. The climate of the Forests ranges from semi-arid at low elevations to cold and humid in the high country. Frost may occur at any time, and visitors to the higher elevations should be prepared for harsh weather, including snow and high winds, even during the summer months.

The Thunder Basin National Grassland is located in northeastern Wyoming in the Powder River Basin between the Big Horn Mountains and the Black Hills. The Grassland ranges in elevation from 3,600 feet to 5,200 feet and the climate is semi-arid. The Grassland provides unique opportunities for recreation, including hiking, sightseeing, hunting, and fishing. There are no developed campgrounds; however, camping is allowed.

The Grassland abounds with wildlife year-round, provides forage for livestock, and is underlain with vast mineral resources. Land patterns are very complex because of the intermingled federal, state, and private lands. The Douglas Ranger District administers the Grassland.

There are 10 designated Wilderness Areas on the Forests, approximately 1360 developed sites, 2 ski areas (the Steamboat Springs Ski Area has worldwide acclaim), 162 recreational homes with Forest Service permits, and eight mountain lakes with developed boating facilities. There are also miles and miles of hiking trails.

On the combined Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests, downhill skiing and general winter sports are the most popular activities, followed by mechanized travel (including driving, OHV, boating, and bicycling), camping and developed site uses, hunting, whitewater rafting and fishing.

First-timer’s Adventure

Climb a mountain to an old lookout tower.

In just 1.4 miles, you can hike to the top of Hans Peak. The summit is an easier hike than it would first appear. You'll be treated to spectacular 360 o views of the Routt National Forest and the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area, as well as north all the way into Wyoming.

To get there: Drive west out of Steamboat Springs for 2 miles and turn right on to Elk River Road (CR 129). Drive 29 miles to the old settlement of Columbine. With the General Store on your left, turn right onto the dirt jeep road, FDR 490. At this point, private property needs to be respected. Drive 1.8 miles down FDR 490 and it will fork, turn left. After 0.2 miles it forks again, again turn left and park.

Statistics

State(s):

Colorado, Wyoming

Nearest Urban Area:

Steamboat Springs

Notes & Conditions:

Check conditions before you head into the forest. If you are an off-highway vehicle (OHV) user, please see the regulations before you head out.

Research campground locations and amenities at the U.S. National Forest Campground Directory. The Web site is full of pictures and detailed descriptions to help you plan your next trip.

If you want to experience a guided recreation trip in a National Forest, visit Adventure Vacation to learn about whitewater rafting, canoeing, kayaking, horseback riding, camping, hiking and fishing trips.

Maps:

Visit the National Forest Store to see what maps are available for this Forest and others you may want to visit.