Routt National Forest Overview

Established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1905 as the Park Range Forest Reserve, the Routt National Forest includes 1,126,346 acres of Federal lands within its boundaries. The Forest is named in memory of Col. John N. Routt, the last territorial and first state Governor of Colorado.

The Continental Divide and spectacular peaks of the 139,818-acre Mt. Zirkel Wilderness split the major watersheds of the National Forest. On the East, the North Park region is drained by the North Platte River, a tributary of the Missouri and Mississippi; and on the west, the Yampa River flows to the Green and Colorado. Elevations are high, ranging from 7,000 feet in the irrigated valleys to 13,000 feet along the Divide. Heavy snows are common, and frost may occur any time during the summer season. Other wilderness areas within the Routt National Forest include Beyers Peak, Flat Tops, Neota, Ptarmigan, Sarvis Creek, Rawah and the Never Summer Mountains Wilderness.

Tourists and travelers enjoy the beautiful drive over Rabbit Ear Pass on U.S. Highway 40, and camping facilities are located near the highway and at the other spots throughout the Forest. Years ago, the "ears"—stone pinnacles near the pass—were landmarks for Indians and later mountain men, trappers, and settlers.

Elk and deer are residents of the Forest during the warmer months, and drift to the lower elevations with less snow during the winter. Bear, bighorn sheep, mountain lion, coyote, and antelope may be observed on occasion, and beaver, marmot, ptarmigan, osprey, eagle, and other smaller species are present in varying numbers. Long famous for hunting and fishing, the Forest still provides this opportunity under seasons set by the Colorado Division of Wildlife. A valid Colorado license is required for hunting or fishing.

Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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