Arapaho National Forest

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Arapaho National Forest

Arapaho National Forest encompasses plains, foothills and sprawling mountains as well as the Continental Divide. The area offers a variety of activities throughout the year.

  • National forest and grassland maps are available for purchase at any of the five ranger district offices or available by mail. 
  • Most areas of the national forest are open, free of charge but fees or permits may be required for use of certain areas, facilities or services. 

Overview

The Arapaho National Forest is an outdoorsman’s paradise. The area offers a wide range of activities including camping, hunting, hiking, skiing or fishing. Located in north central Colorado, the national forest spans 1.5 million acres.

Location/Directions

The national forest is located in north central Colorado and spans north to the Wyoming border, south of I-70 to Mount Evans, west across the Continental Divide to the Williams Fork area and even includes a small grass prairie east of I-25.

Contact Information:
2150 Centre Ave. Bldg. E
Fort Collins, CO 80526
970-295-6600 Information
877-444-6777 Camp Reservations

Seasons

Arapaho National Forest is open year-round. However, certain activities are restricted by season.

Activities

The area offers access to a variety of activities including: camping, hiking, fishing (freshwater and saltwater), rock climbing, horse trails, canoeing, kayaking, rafting, mountain biking, hunting, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice skating, bird watching, guided tours and more.

Key destinations include the Cache la Poudre Wild and Scenic River, located in Larimer County, and Mount Evans, located 40 miles southwest of Denver.

Camping
Located in the Clear Creek Ranger District, the popular campgrounds of Echo Lake and Cold Springs offer additional picnic areas, trash facilities and access to drinking water.  Echo Lake campground, at an elevation of 10,600 feet, consists of a standard site fee of $15 while Cold Springs, at 9,200 feet consists of a $16 site fee.  

Hiking
Also within the Clear Creek Ranger District is the Mount Evans Wilderness area boasting 74,400 acres of land and two 14,000-foot peaks. The area also comprises approximately 120 miles of trails including Chicago Lakes and Resthouse Meadows.  

  • Chicago Lakes Trail: The Chicago Lakes trailhead is located at an elevation of 10,650 feet while the trail encompasses 9.2 miles round trip. Although the hike includes a mile of road walking and 0.1 miles of scrambling over boulders, the hike provides picturesque views from an upper lake that are most pristine in the early morning.  From Denver, take I-70 west to Evergreen Parkway. Then, take CO74 to Squaw Pass and turn right. Take Squaw Pass for about 15 miles to Echo Lake. The parking area for the trail head is on the north end of the lake, across from the lodge.
  • Resthouse Meadows Trail: The Resthouse Meadows trail, beginning from the same location at the Echo Lake Trailhead as the Chicago Lakes trail, is a popular backcountry trail that is 13 miles round trip.  This trail leads to an isolated park that provides the best in mountain scenery.  

Fishing
Echo Lake, adjacent to both the Chicago Lake and Resthouse Meadows Trail, also serves as an enchanting fishing ground.  The area is family-friendly and stocked with fish like Smallmouth Bass, Yellow Perch, Pickerel to ensure an anglers delight. A fishing license through Colorado Fish & Wildlife licensing is required.  

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Other Arapaho National Forest Resources

The Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge

The Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge is located just outside of Walden, Colorado.