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    You Are Here:   Home  >  What Do You Want To Do?   >  Favorite Spring Things

    ORIC's Favorite Spring Things to Do

    Spring in the Rockies is a transitional period. High mountain lakes will generally remain frozen until July. North facing slopes hold the snow and ice longer. Spring snow melt can make stream crossings hazardous.  Snow melt will depend on whether precipitation was below, at, or above average.

    Mud season, on average, begins in April and can run through June. Roads can be treacherous in the mud season. There are closures related to wildlife activity. Flash floods, thunderstorms and lightning, rock slides, temperature swings, ticks, and avalanches are other things to be aware of in the spring.

    The Bureau of Land Management has 8 million acres of public land for your to explore in Colorado. Colorado Parks & Wildlife has 42 great parks. So, shake off the winter blues with the following spring activities.

    Backpacking

    You'll want to stay lower in the Spring if you want a snow-free experience. Otherwise, go equipped for winter camping.

    Alamosa Region

    Craig Region

    Denver Region

    Eagle Region

    Estes Park Region

    Fort Collins Region

    • Greyrock National Recreation Trail #946. Low enough to get in some early season backpacking. USFS webpage. USFS quicksheet. See chapter "9. Greyrock Trail" in Pack Guide: The Best Fort Collins Hikes. See chapter "58. Greyrock Trail" in The Best Front Range Hikes. See chapter "1. Greyrock National Recreation Trail" in Hiking Colorado's Front Range.
    • Lory State Park. Good early season place to go backpacking when cabin fever sets in. Backcountry camping by permit on Fridays and Saturdays in April and May. Six backcountry sites, two-mile walk-in, no fires. Park trails webpage. Park trails map.

    Grand Junction Region

    Montrose Region

    • Dominguez & Escalante Canyons. Red rock canyons that are perfect for a Spring adventure. Big Dominguez Canyon is open year round. It's a good idea to call (970-244-3000) for trail conditions, especially in a wet year. It is fairly wide, has several ponds and a waterfall and is known for it's rock art. For something different try Little Dominguez Canyon. It's narrower and a little harder to get through in the growing season, but water is more abundant. BLM brochure and map. ORIC Trip Map/Description Sheet (II).

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    Bouldering

    You'll be able to enjoy this sport earlier in the season if you stay east of the Peak-to-Peak Highway and on south facing slopes. But, be forewarned, bouldering can be extremely dangerous and may result in death. Falls are apparently common. Go with the requisite skills and understand the risks you will be taking. There are many Front Range locations. Here are few resources to help you get started.

    • Colorado Bouldering: Front Range. By Phillip Benningfield and Matt Samet, Sharp End Publishing.

    Camping

    Most developed campgrounds, including National Forest campgrounds, open around Memorial Day weekend, but there are campgrounds that are either open year round or open before Memorial Day weekend or open later. We will point you to the campgrounds that open earlier or later or stay open year round.  We should mention that they may open earlier or later depending on conditions. It's best to phone the ranger district office to confirm the opening date.

    It's a good idea to reserve campsites as far in advance as possible and you can make reservations for USFS campgrounds at recreation.gov unless the campground is "first-come, first-served."

    Alamosa Region

    Boulder Region

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    Buena Vista Region

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    Cañon City Region

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    Colorado Springs Region

    Craig Region

    • Dinosaur National Monument. Camping webpage. Check website for opening for the following campgrounds: Split Mountain Campground, Rainbow Park Campground, Echo Park Campground, Gates of Lodore Campground and Deerlodge Park Campground. They will not have water from fall to spring and may be difficult to access due to snow pack and run-off. Green River Campground: first-come, first-served. Call for a condition update.

    Denver Region

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    Durango Region

    Estes Park Region

    Fort Collins Region

    Grand Junction Region

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    Gunnison Region

    • Curecanti National Recreation Area. Camping webpage.
      • Dry Gulch Campground. First-come, first-served.
      • Elk Creek Campground. Map. Reservations can be made at recreation.gov 
      • Gateview Campground. First-come, first-served.
      • Lake Fork Campground. Map. Reservations can be made at recreation.gov 
      • Ponderosa Campground. First-come, first-served.
      • Red Creek Campground. First-come, first-served.
      • Red Creek Group Campground. Reservations may be made at recreation.gov 
      • Stevens Creek Campground. Map.  

    Montrose Region

    Northeast Plains Region

    South Park Region

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    Trinidad Region

    Resources

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    Climbing

    Many of these areas are accessible as early as April. But, be forewarned, climbing, in its many variations, can be extremely dangerous and may result in death. Go with the requisite skills and understand the risks you will be taking. There are many Front Range locations. Here are few to help you get started.

    Rock climber on south facing cliff of North Table Mountain at 
		  Golden

    Rock climber on south facing cliff of North Table Mountain at Golden. Photo by Anne & Rob Brumbaugh.

    Boulder Region

    Colorado Springs Region

     Denver Region

    Cycling

    Mountain Biking

    These are a selection of trails that may be accessible in the spring. It's a good idea to call for trail conditions before you go.

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    Boulder Region

    Denver Region

    Grand Junction Region

    • Book Cliffs trail system at Fruita (Bureau of Land Management. MTB Project webpage. Suggest calling the BLM office in Grand Junction 970-244-3000 for trail conditions.
    • Fruita Fat Tire Festival.
    • Kokopelli's Trail. (Bureau of Land Management.) Loma, CO, to Moab, UT. May or June. 142-mile multi-use trail. BLM webpage. MTB Project webpage. See description on Latitude 40 Degrees map Fruita / Grand Junction Colorado Trails Recreation Topo Map.

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    Biking group on Rim Rock Trail on North Table Mountain at Golden

    Biking group on Rim Rock Trail on North Table Mountain at Golden. Photo by Anne & Rob Brumbaugh.

    Paved Path Cycling

    Ca?on City Region 

    Denver Region

    • Denver B-Cycle bike rental system. Website.
    • Denver Bike Path System. Denver Bike Map. Check out Great Road Rides Denver by Jay P. K. Kenney for a pretty comprehensive list of bike paths.

    Northeast Plains Region

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    Summit County Region

    Road Biking

    Multiple Regions

    • Death Ride Tour. Silverton to Silverton loop via Ouray, Telluride, Dolores, Durango. 232 miles and 16,500 feet elevation gain. Early June.
    • Ride the RockiesRoute map. Telluride to Colorado Springs. 513 miles and 20,400 vertical feet gain. Middle of June.

    Denver Region

    Resources

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    Events

    Alamosa Region

    Participate in one of these open air  spring events to build your endurance for the summer season.

    Boulder Region

    • BolderBOULDER. May 27. 10k run. Website.

    Denver Region

    • Cherry Creek Sneak. Usually last Sunday in April. Check to be sure. Cherry Creek Mall neighborhood. This is mainly a 10-mile run. They, however, also stage a 5-mile run, 3.1 mile run, 1.5 mile sneak sprint, a Kid's Fun Run and a variety of other events to keep everyone entertained. Website.
    • National Get Outdoors Day. Usually June 8. Check first. Annual National Get Outdoors Day.
    • Platte River Half Marathon & Buckhorn Exchange Relay. April 7. Website.

    Fishing

    Dude’s Fishing Hole at Golden Gate Canyon Park

    Dude’s Fishing Hole at Golden Gate Canyon Park. Photo by Anne & Rob Brumbaugh.

    Unless you're into ice fishing you'll have to wait until ice-off which at lower elevations which occurs sometime in April or May. You'll also need a fishing license to engage in this great pastime. You can get your license online, by phone at 1-800-244-5613, at license agents around the state and at Wildlife Service Centers. The Annual Licenses are valid form April 1 through March 31.

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    Tail Waters

    You can fish tail waters year round. Some recommendations:

    • Arkansas River below Pueblo Dam.
    • Big Thompson River below Lake Estes.
    • Blue River near the Dillon Outlets.
    • South Platte River below Cheesman Canyon Dam.
    • South Platte River below Strontia Springs Dam.

    Lakes, Ponds, Reservoirs

    Denver Region

    Eastern Plains Regions

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    Geocaching

    Colorado Geocaching Trails & Maps webpage. A great springtime activity to hone your GPS skills.

    Hiking

    The key is to stay low in the spring. It's a good idea to call ahead to get trail conditions before you go.

    Multiple Regions

    Denver Region

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    Hiker on lower portion of Carpenter Peak trail in Roxborough State Park.

    Hiker on lower portion of Carpenter Peak trail in Roxborough State Park. Photo by Anne & Rob Brumbaugh.

    Canon City Region

    Colorado Springs Region

    Fort Collins Region

    Horseback Riding

    You are likely to encounter mud and hazardous stream crossings early in the Spring. Call for trail conditions before you go.

    Boulder Region

    Denver Region

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    Fort Collins Region

    Resources

    Horseback riders, Chatfield State Park

    Horseback riders in Chatfield State Park. Photo by Anne & Rob Brumbaugh.

    Hot Springs Soaking

    These are great anytime of the year, but not all the hike-in hot springs are accessible in the Spring. Here are a few commercial hot springs to get you started.

    Buena Vista Region

    Steamboat Region

    Resources

    • Touring Colorado Hot Springs. Susan Joy Paul. 2012. FalconGuides
    • Colorado's Hot Springs. Deborah Frazier. 2000. Pruett Publishing,

    Hunting

    Spring is a great time to plan your fall hunting trip. If you need help deciding where to hunt Colorado Parks & Wildife hunt planners are standing by at 303-291-7526 Monday - Friday 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Mountain Time. You can find their full line of hunting brochures online at the Colorado Parks & Wildlife "Regulations Brochures" webpage.

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    Orienteering

    Practice your map and compass skills in the foothills before you head out on your summer backpacking trip. Helpful websites:

    Paddling & Boating

    Depending on where you paddle the season may start as early as April and run as late as September. But, generally speaking, the season starts in May and peaks in June.

    Buena Vista and Ca?on City Regions

    Gunnison Region

    • Morrow Point Boat Tours. Ranger-led tours into the Black Canyon of the Gunnison in the Crrecanti National Recreation Area. Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Prepaid reservations required can be made in person at the Elk Creek Visitor Center or by calling 970-641-2337 x205. National Park Service webpage.

    Nebraska

    Resources

    Places to Go

    Alamosa Region

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    Boulder Region

    Central Plains Region

    Craig Region

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    Colorado Springs Region

    Denver Region

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    Durango Region

    Estes Park Region

    Fort Collins Region

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    Grand Junction Region

    Northeast Plains Region

    Trinidad Region

    Recreational Trails

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    Scenic Driving

    Multiple Regions

    • Trail Ridge Road/Beaver Meadow Road in Rocky Mountain National Park. webpage. Should be open by Memorial Day weekend.

    Denver Region

    • Guanella Pass Road. Colorado Department of Transportation webpage. This 22-mile route runs between Georgetown and Grant via Clear Creek County Road 381 and Park County Road 62. It travels the 11,669 foot mountain pass through wildlife and remnants of historic mining operations. Usually opens by Memorial Day weekend

    Fort Collins - North Park Regions

    • Cache la Poudre-North Park Scenic and Historic Byway. Colorado Department of Transportation webpage. This scenic route connects the historic towns of Ft. Collins and Walden via Colorado State Highway 14. The 101-mile byway goes into Poudre Canyon, over Cameron Pass and into North Park.

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    Spring Skiing and Snowboarding

    For those who just cannot get enough and hate to see the season end.

    Denver Region

    • Loveland Ski Area. Competes with Arapahoe Basin as the last resort to close for the season.

    Summit County Region

    • Arapahoe Basin. Competes with Ski Loveland as the last resort to close for the season.

    Spring Snow Melt Schedule

    This is a rough guide for what to expect in an average year. Revise it accordingly if it is an above or below average snow year. We also recommend checking SNOTEL for current snow depths at monitoring stations throughout the state. Colorado Department of Transportation webcams and 14ers.com can also be good sources for ascertaining the snowline. Users post photos of road conditions to the trailhead and at various points along the trail on 14ers.com. All of these tools should give you a general idea of what to expect.

    •  9,500 feet and lower should be dry around mid-May.
    •  10,000 feet to 10,500 feet should be dry around mid-June.
    •  10,500 feet to 11,500 feet should be dry around July 1st.
    •  11,500 feet and above should be dry around mid-July.

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    Star Gazing

    With or without a pair of binoculars. This activity offers you a perfect reason to get away from the city lights. Good locations:

    Multiple Regions

    • Any of the more than 150 huts, yurts and cabins in ORIC's index.

    Denver Region

    • Mt. Evans Recreation Area. USFS webpage. Scheduled to open Memorial Day Weekend.

    Fort Collins Region

    Grand Junction Region

    Trinidad Region

    Utah

    Southeastern Utah's desert playgrounds are close and warm up well before Colorado's higher terrain. Just watch out for the spring winds.

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    Waterfalls

    Spring snow melt produces magnificent waterfalls.

    Woodland Lake Backcountry Zone

    Woodland Lake Backcountry Zone. Photo by Patrick O'Connor.

    Boulder Region

    Denver Region

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    Eagle Region

    Estes Park

    Wildflower Viewing

    Here are some suggested areas that may be low enough to sport early season wildflowers.

    Boulder Region

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    Colorado Springs Region

    • Florissant Fossil Beds National Mounment Trails System (National Park Service). NPS trails webpage. NPS trails map. Although best known for it's fossil beds and red wood trunks it is also carpeted with wildflowers. The drive getting there is pretty nice too.

    Denver Region

    Estes Park Region

    Fort Collins Region

    • Blue Lake Trail #959. USFS webpage. USFS quicksheet. June through August. Check locally to ensure the trail is open and accessible.
    • Cathy Fromme Prairie Natural Area. (City of Fort Collins). CFC webpage. CFC brochure. May through August. Check locally to ensure the Natural Area is open and accessible.
    • Horsetooth Mountain Open Space trail system. (Larimer County Department of Natural Resources.) LCDNR webpage, brochure and map.
      • Horsetooth Falls Trail - May through July. Check locally to ensure the trail is open and accessible.
    • Lory State Park trail system. Park trails webpage. Park trails map.
    • Pawnee Buttes. USFS trailhead webpage. ORIC trail map/description sheet. See chapter "15. Pawnee Buttes" in Pack Guide: The Best Fort Collins Hikes. Though a bit of a drive you'll be rewarded with amazing displays of early season prairie wildflowers. You may even decide to stay overnight at the Crow Valley Recreation Area. It's a great place for stargazing. You should also not miss the over 200 species of birds that frequent the Pawnee National Grasslands. And to cap it off you may want to hike to Pawnee Buttes. 

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    Granby Region

    • Rocky Mountain National Park trail system. NPS park webpage. NPS park map. NPS trails descriptions. Spring is a great time to see the waterfalls:
      • Adams Falls via East Inlet Trail. NPS trails descriptions. NPS trails brochure/map. It's just a short hike to the falls and you may see Calypso Orchids in the meadows beyond. You may be able to access this area in April and most certainly by May. The trail beyond the meadows, however, gains elevation and may not be accessible until late spring. It, nonetheless,is a good idea to check with Rocky Mountain National Park to ensure the trail is open and accessible.

    Grand Junction Region

    Resources

    Wildlife Viewing

    Alamosa Region

    • Monte Vista Crane Festival. 719-589-4021. Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge map. - Watch the Sandhill Cranes descend into and lift off from the rye fields. You may see them in late February through the middle of April, but the peak will be in March when the festival is held. So mark your calendar for March 8-10. Visiting the Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge also is recommended while you're in the area. 719-589-4021. Map.

    Boulder Region

    Central Plains Region

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    Bald eagle in Addenbrook Park, Lakewood

    Bald eagle in Addenbrook Park, Lakewood. Photo by Anne & Rob Brumbaugh.

    Denver Region

    You'd be amazed at the viewing opportunities within an easy drive from Denver.

    Northeast Plains Region

    Trinidad Region

    • Lesser Prairie-Chicken viewing area. USFS webpage. Thirty-five miles southeast of Springfield.

    Resources

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