New camping regulations begin spring 2021 for Slate River and Washington Gulch drainages
Camping is classic summer activity, an ideal way to experience Crested Butte, and the go-to lodging choice of many a mountain biker.
You may have noticed, however, that it has gotten crowded—really crowded—out there. The explosion in camping has led to resource damage, escaped campfires, spiderwebs of “social” routes and roads, and sanitation issues. Starting in 2021, the Slate River Road #734 and Washington Gulch Road #811 drainages will require that all van, RV, trailer, and tent camping occurs in designated sites only. Dispersed camping, which means camping anywhere, is no longer permitted in those areas. The newly-designated sites where you CAN camp are labeled with a camping symbol, site number, and contain a metal fire ring.
This does not mean that camping has been eliminated! It means that the Gunnison National Forest is working to manage camping to keep impacts within specific and sustainable locations. Slate River Road offers 43 designated campsites, and Washington Gulch offers 48. Read on for more information about where and how to camp in the Gunnison Valley.
Where to camp
The map below shows current designated and dispersed camping areas only, and is not intended as a resource for any camping outside the shaded regions. Established campgrounds are not currently shown on the map. Read on for more details on where and how to camp.
The traditional form of car camping, where you head out to public lands and find yourself a nice spot to spend the night! Over the next two years, campers should expect to see many of the traditional dispersed camping areas around Crested Butte switch to designated camping.
2021 Dispersed Camping Areas:
- Brush Creek Road #738
- Kebler Pass Road #12
- Lake Irwin Road #826
- Cement Creek Road #740
- Gothic Road #317 (Not permitted June 15 – August 15)
- Spring Creek Road #744
Camp in sites that have a post with a campsite number, metal fire ring, and parking spot.
2021 Designated Camping Areas:
- Slate River Road #734
- Washington Gulch Road #811
- Hartman Rocks Recreation Area (Gunnison)
- Camp only at signed sites
- All sites are first come first serve, with a 14-day maximum stay
- Fires are only permitted in the established metal fire rings
- Sites are limited to two vehicles only per site
- No site saving- it is illegal to leave property unattended for more than 24 hours
Several established campgrounds exist that are managed by federal entities or privately owned and offer significantly more amenities. They require a nightly fee, and some can be reserved in advance. Many of these campgrounds offer water, toilets, showers, tent pads, picnic tables, RV hookups, and other amenities.
- Lake Irwin
- Cement Creek Road
- Slate River
- Taylor Canyon
Leave No Trace
No matter where you choose to camp, we ask that you follow the guiding principles of Leave No Trace etiquette to help ensure that camping areas remain open and untarnished for future generations to enjoy. Remember to pack out all trash and human waste, know about local fire regulations, extinguish campfires so they are cold to the touch, and do not leave food or garbage unattended.
Poor planning often results in unhappy campers driving around for hours searching for an open campsite, which sometimes results in illegal camping. This can lead to resource damage, a possible ticket and fine, and a huge bummer for your trip. As more camping areas around Crested Butte switch to designated camping, planning ahead will become essential.