10 Epic National Forests In Colorado That Will Challenge Your Adventurous Soul

Are you ready to take your adventure to the next level? Colorado is home to some of the most breathtaking national forests in the country, providing endless opportunities to explore, hike, and camp alongside some of nature’s finest sights. 

From alpine lakes and rocky mountain peaks to lush streams and old-growth forests, this article will take you on a journey through 10 Epic National Forests In Colorado that will surely challenge your inner adventurer!

Grand Mesa National Forest

Grand Mesa National Forest  is home to some of the state’s tallest mountains, including Grand Mesa, which rises to an elevation of 11,000 feet. The forest covers nearly 500,000 acres of land and provides a wide variety of recreational opportunities. 

There are dozens of hiking trails, countless camping spots, and numerous lakes and rivers for fishing and boating. In the winter, the Grand Mesa National Forest is a popular destination for snowmobiling and cross-country skiing.

Whether you’re looking for a challenging hike or a relaxing campground, the Grand Mesa National Forest has something to offer everyone. So get out there and explore all this beautiful forest has to offer!

Gunnison National Forest

The Gunnison National Forest is a protected area in the Rocky Mountain region of Colorado. It encompasses 1.5 million acres (2,100 sq mi; 6,100 km2) of land, making it the second-largest national forest in the state. The forest is named after John W. Gunnison, a U.S. Army officer who surveyed the area in 1853.

The Gunnison National Forest is home to four wilderness areas: the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, West Elk Wilderness, Raggeds Wilderness, and Collegiate Peaks Wilderness. These areas protect some of the most scenic and biologically diverse landscapes in Colorado. 

Recreation opportunities abound in the Gunnison National forest. Hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, horseback riding, mountain biking, off-road vehicle riding, skiing, and snowmobiling are all popular activities in the Forest. There are also many developed recreation sites with facilities for picnicking, camping, and RVing. 

The Gunnison National Forest is an important economic asset in the region. The forest provides timber, livestock grazing, and recreational opportunities. These activities bring tourism dollars to local communities and help to create jobs in a variety of industries, including logging, tourism, and hospitality.

Pike National Forest

Pike National forest is one of the most popular national forests in Colorado. It is located just outside of Denver and covers more than 1 million acres. The forest includes a variety of landscapes, from alpine meadows to high-elevation forests. There are also a number of lakes and streams, as well as hiking and camping opportunities. 

Pike National Forest offers visitors a chance to explore and enjoy the Rocky Mountains. There are more than 600 miles of trails for hikers, bikers and horseback riders to explore. The popular Mt. Evans Wilderness offers views of the Continental Divide, while the Lost Creek Wilderness provides an opportunity to see wildlife in their natural habitats.

The forest also serves as home to ancient archaeological sites, including some dating back more than 10,000 years. Visitors can also experience panoramic views of the Front Range from one of the many overlooks throughout the forest. Pike National Forest is managed by the U.S. Forest Service and offers year-round recreation opportunities for all ages and abilities.

Rio Grande National Forest

This massive forest spans over 1.5 million acres, making it the fifth largest national forest in the United States. With so much land to explore, you’re sure to find plenty of adventure here.

There are countless trails to hike and bike throughout the Rio Grande National forest. For those looking for a more challenging adventure, there are also several backcountry camping sites where you can really get away from it all. And if you’re lucky, you might even spot some wildlife while you’re exploring this beautiful forest.

If you’re planning a Colorado camping trip and are looking for somewhere to test your adventurer soul, look no further than Rio Grande National Forest. This forest is home to some of the state’s most incredible scenery, from high-alpine lakes to rugged mountain peaks. And with over 1,000 miles of trails, there’s definitely a route here that will challenge even the most experienced hikers and backpackers.

One popular trail in Rio Grande National Forest is the Continental Divide Trail, which runs for 3,100 miles along the spine of the Rocky Mountains from Mexico to Canada. Obviously, you won’t be able to hike the entire trail in one trip (unless you’re particularly ambitious), but there are sections that can be tackled in a few days. The section through Rio Grande National Park is around 100 miles long and takes most people about a week to complete.

But it’s not only experienced hikers who will enjoy spending time in this forest – there are plenty of shorter trails suitable for day hikes too. And if you love being outdoors but don’t want to do any hiking, that’s fine too – Rio Grande National Forest offers great opportunities for fishing, horseback riding, and wildlife watching. In short, whatever your idea of an adventurous vacation looks like, you’ll find it here in Rio Grande National Forest!

Roosevelt National Forest

Roosevelt National Forest spans over 1.1 million acres and offers endless opportunities for outdoor recreation. From hiking and camping to mountain biking and rock climbing, Roosevelt National Forest has something for everyone.

There are over 700 miles of trails to explore within the forest, so you could easily spend weeks or even months here and not see everything. Some of the most popular trails include the Diamondback Trail, which winds its way through the forest for 21 miles, and the Big Odessa Trail, which is a challenging 11-mile hike with stunning views of the valley below.

If you’re looking for a more leisurely activity, Roosevelt National Forest also has plenty to offer. There are numerous scenic drives that wind their way through theForest, offering beautiful views of the mountains, valleys, and lakes. You can also go fishing in one of the many lakes or rivers within the Forest boundaries. And don’t forget to keep an eye out for wildlife! Roosevelt National Forest is home to an abundance of wildlife including elk, deer, bighorn sheep, eagles, and bears.

Routt National Forest

Routt National Forest is one of the most epic national forests in Colorado. It’s packed with challenging trails and breathtaking scenery. 

There are many different trails to choose from, so you can pick one that best suits your level of experience. The forest offers something for everyone, from easy hikes to more difficult ones. There are also plenty of opportunities for camping, fishing, and picnicking.

The scenery in the forest is simply incredible. You’ll find yourself surrounded by towering mountains, pristine lakes, and dense forests. It’s truly a nature lover’s paradise.

If you’re up for a challenge, Routt National Forest is the perfect place for you. With its challenging trails and stunning scenery, it’s an adventure soul’s dream come true. 


San Isabel National Forest

San Isabel National Forest is located in central Colorado and includes some of the state’s highest mountains. The forest spans over 1.5 million acres and includes several wilderness areas. adventure seekers can find anything from hiking and camping to mountain biking and climbing. The San Isabel National forest is a great place to explore Colorado’s backcountry and get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

One of the main attractions in San Isabel NF is Mt. Massive – Colorado’s second highest peak. It stands at an impressive 14,421 feet and offers breathtaking views in all directions. There are several trails for hiking up Mt. Massive which range from easy to difficult, and feature a variety of alpine wildflowers along the way.

In addition to Mt. Massive,  the national forest also includes Lake Isabel, which is one of the largest natural lakes in Colorado at over 2,100 acres. This lake offers excellent fishing for trout and kokanee salmon as well as plenty of other recreational activities such as kayaking and canoeing.

San Isabel National Forest also contains many other mountain peaks including Pikes Peak, popularly referred to as `America’s mountain’. Visitors can explore miles of trails that include everything from alpine meadows to remote high peaks. There are also several campgrounds throughout the forest providing a perfect place to spend a night under the stars surrounded by breathtaking beauty of nature.


San Juan National Forest

This massive forest spans over 1.8 million acres, making it one of the largest in the United States. The San Juans are home to some of the most rugged and beautiful terrain in Colorado, with towering mountains, deep canyons, and rushing rivers. 

The San Juan National Forest is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds, boasting activities like skiing, snowboarding, rafting and horseback riding. With numerous trails, rivers, lakes and campgrounds, this forest offers something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a place to just relax or an exciting adventure in the wilderness, the San Juan National Forest has it all!

The San Juan National Forest boasts an abundance of wildlife species. Black bears, elk, bighorn sheep, mountain lions, mule deer and wild turkeys can all be found in the area. Other animals that call these woods home are coyotes, wolves and a variety of birds such as peregrine falcons and eagles. The San Juan range also has a wide array of plants including pine trees, aspens, junipers and Gambel oak. 

The San Juan National Forest offers plentiful hiking and camping opportunities for visitors. Many of the trails lead to beautiful alpine lakes where you can take a dip or just sit back and take in the views. There are several campgrounds dotted throughout the forest, ranging from primitive sites to larger RV parks with full amenities. Cycling is also popular in the region, with many of the trails being suitable for mountain biking too!

Uncompahgre National Forest

The Uncompahgre National Forest is one of the oldest national forests in Colorado. It stretches from the Montrose area all the way south to Durango and covers 1.8 million acres. The forest offers a wide variety of activities for the adventure seeker, including hiking, camping, fishing, mountain biking, horseback riding, skiing, and more.

There are over 800 miles of trails throughout the forest that provide access to some of the most stunning scenery in Colorado. Hikers can explore alpine meadows, old-growth forests, aspen groves, and even geologic features like volcanic craters. The forest is also home to several 14ers, including Mt. Sneffels and Wetterhorn Peak.

Whether you’re looking for a challenging hike or a beautiful place to relax, the Uncompahgre National Forest has something for everyone.


White River National Forest

The White River National Forest is one of the most popular national forests in the United States. It is located in central Colorado and covers more than 2 million acres. The forest is home to eight wilderness areas, nine ski resorts, four mountain peaks that top 14,000 feet, and 2,500 miles of hiking trails.

The White River National Forest is known for its outstanding scenery and outdoor recreation opportunities. The forest offers something for everyone, whether you are looking for a challenging hike or an easy stroll through the woods. There are also plenty of opportunities for wildlife watching, camping, picnicking, fishing, and horseback riding. In winter, the forest is a paradise for skiers and snowboarders, with nine ski resorts to choose from.

If you are looking for an epic adventure in Colorado, the White River National Forest is the perfect place to start.


Colorado is a beautiful state filled with incredible national forests that will take your breath away. There are plenty of opportunities to explore, hike, and camp in these majestic natural locales. Whether you seek peace and tranquility or an extreme adventure, these national forests offer something for everyone. So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and head off to one of the 10 epic national forests in Colorado today!

No trip to Colorado is complete without a visit to at least one of these majestic national forests. With such a diverse range of forests, you might find yourself surprised by what the state has to offer. Go out and explore the serenity of Rocky Mountains National Park or the rugged peaks at Rio Grande National Forest. Scale mountain peaks at San Isabel National Forest or take in sweeping views from Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area.

Colorado’s national forests provide endless opportunities for exploration and adventure. So, grab your gear and get ready for an epic experience – no matter which of these destinations you choose, you won’t be disappointed.

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