- The varied terrain of the forest provides habitat for a range of wildlife, including threatened and endangered species such as sandhill cranes and green-back cutthroat trout. At Fish Creek Falls, cascading water tumbles 263 feet over sheer rock walls. Most of the mountain areas of the Routt are covered with lodgepole pine, Engelmann spruce, subalpine fir and Douglas-fir, interspersed with large expansions of open parks and aspen stands.
Copyright: Zander Higbie-Interactive Outdoors, Inc.
There are at least portions of four designated wilderness areas on the Routt National Forest. The Forest Service maintains hundreds of developed sites including campgrounds, trailheads, the Steamboat Ski Area and mountain lakes with developed boating facilities.
The North Park area of the forest (east of Mt. Zirkel) offers some spectacular high park scenery. The area also provides for backcountry access to the Rawah Wilderness (on the Roosevelt National Forest) and the Never Summer Mountains.
The Bear River corridor west of Yampa provides a variety of opportunities, including developed and dispersed camping, horseback riding, fishing (stream and lake) and access into the Flat Tops Wilderness and primitive areas beyond. Wilderness trailheads are located along the corridor road, which means that on a busy day, parking is in short supply.
The southwestern boundary of the Forest is referred to as the Pagoda Peak and Pyramid Peak areas. The Flat Tops Trail Scenic and Historic Byway traverse across this area which is primarily roadless with limited motorized public access.
Recreation - Popular recreation activities on the Forest include downhill and cross-country skiing, developed and dispersed camping, jeeping, sightseeing, hunting, fishing, hiking, boating, snowmobiling, picnicking, biking,horseback riding and backpacking.
Downhill skiing is available in the winter at Steamboat Ski Area on the Hahns Peak Ranger District. Visitors can enjoy nordic skiing or snowshoeing in numerous areas, some of the most popular being Rabbit Ears Pass, Dunckley Pass, the Clark and Seedhouse area and the Hahns Peak Lake area. Snowmobile recreation opportunities are available in many national forest locations. The east Rabbit Ears Pass, Dunckley Pass, Gore Pass and Columbine areas are among the most popular.
Climate - Elevations on the forest reach over 12,000 feet. For summer, expect warm days and cool to freezing nights, especially in the high country. The months of July and August are considered the warmest, and most high mountain lakes are free of ice during this period. Much of the Mount Zirkel and Flat Tops Wildernesses remain inaccessible until early or mid-July. Be prepared for both warm and chilly weather. The rainy season lasts from mid-July through August, when afternoon thunderstorms should be expected. The first snow can fly any time from the first of September!
Although the skies are often sunny, winter temperatures can be very cold. Abundant snowfall is received which supports the many winter activities found on the district. Average annual snowfall can reach up to 450 inches depending on location and elevation. The Park Range is known to receive some of the heaviest snows in Colorado.
The Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest was established in the 1990s when the Medicine Bow National Forest in Wyoming and the Routt National Forest in Colorado were combined. The information here pertains to the former Routt National Forest.
The Routt is located in northwest Colorado, around the towns of Kremmling, Walden, Yampa, Steamboat Springs and Craig. It includes portions of the Medicine Bow Mountains, the Never Summer Mountains, the Rabbit Ears Range, the northern Gore Range, the Park Range, the Elkhead Mountains and the northern end of the Flat Tops. The Routt includes 1,125,145 acres of federal land within its boundaries.