Here’s the lowdown on high-country camping

Memorial Day is traditionally the start of the summer camping season, with many people rolling out their camping gear for the first time this year, and others preparing to transition from desert to high-country outings.

It’s not unusual to find there’s still snow in higher areas of Colorado’s mountains at Memorial Day, and that some U.S. Forest Service campgrounds are still closed. But this year, those who want to camp in the high country had better enjoy snow camping.

With 4 to 5 feet of snow still blanketing Grand Mesa, there will be no Forest Service campgrounds open on the mesa this weekend, said Lee Ann Loupe, a spokeswoman for the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests. The Forest Service Visitor’s Center near Ward Lake will be open, however.

Much of the Uncompahgre Plateau also remains snowbound. The Divide Road is open for only about 4 miles south from Colorado Highway 141 in Unaweep Canyon and most of the campgrounds on the top of the plateau have yet to open. Columbine Pass Road out of Delta is open, and some dispersed camping is available.

A few lower-elevation or more easily accessible campgrounds in other parts of the three forests are open, such as Erickson Springs near Paonia, a handful of campgrounds near Almont in Gunnison County and a few near Telluride. For more information on which national forest campgrounds are open, visit the U.S. Forest Service website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/gmug and click on “recreation.”

But for most camping opportunities this Memorial Day weekend, outdoors enthusiasts are better off visiting one of the many Colorado State Parks facilities in this region or traveling to some of the millions of acres of lower-elevation, Bureau of Land Management property that surrounds Grand Junction.

The website for the BLM camping information is http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/gjfo/recreation/camping.html. For Colorado State Parks, click on “reservations” under http://www.parks.state.co.us.

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