The summer months in the mountains surrounding Crested Butte are filled with wildflowers, quaking aspen, snow-capped peaks, and cascading creeks. As the deep snows of winter melt in the spring, camping season begins. Summertime is the season of brilliant wildflowers, long days and cool nights, endless miles of hiking and biking. The short summer is followed by crisp autumn days offering jaw dropping views of high alpine summits dusted in the first snows of the long winter ahead rising above vast forests of shimmering golden aspen. Visitors and locals who endeavor to setup a tent and sleep out under the stars are rewarded the next day with heart stopping natural beauty beckoning from the tent door.
The core essence of camping is to “leave no trace” and have mountain manners. These principals may be boiled down to a single statement: “Take only pictures and leave only footprints”. This ethos is especially important when camping outside of a maintained campground because there is no one to clean up after you, OR put your fire out. The following principals apply to any and all camping situations. Here are a few tips for keeping the great outdoors great:
Follow the Trail
Straying from the designated paths can cause harmful erosion or irreversible damage to vegetation and lower soil quality. So we ask you to take the road most traveled (much to Robert Frost’s dismay.)
Bury or Scoop Poop
Your #2 is becoming our #1 issue. If it’s your pet’s, please pick it up! If it’s your own, practice your cat hole skills and bury your business 6”-8” inches. Want to act like a true outdoors person? Pack out everything (yes, we mean everything!) that you brought into this fragile area.
Stay alert and look for private property signs while finding the perfect spot. Remember dispersed camping means you MUST pack out all trash and waste.
Camping in undesignated area leads to a ripple effect (one person camps there, then thousands camp there). This ruins habitat for native wildlife and destroys precious vegetation. Our Visitors’ Centers have maps of all approved camping in the valley making it easy to become a camping connoisseur.
No dispersed camping in Gothic June 15th-August 15th this summer.
Road degradation, fumes from vehicles, and noise pollution all put stress on the local flora and fauna. Instead try to walk, pedal, or take the painted buses to get from here to there. In the Gunnison Valley it’s cool to be out of a vehicle.
Campfires in Dispersed Campsites
Campfires are a luxury, not a necessity so please:
- use established rock-rings, don’t create new ones.
- if there is a current fire ban, don’t have a campfire.
- don’t ever leave your campfire unattended.
Keep Our Water Clean
Do not set up camp within 200′ of water (rivers, streams, ponds, wetlands and riparian areas). Even if you see an established camping area within 200’ please do not camp there just because others have.
Do not pollute water by washing your hands, bathing or washing dishes in rivers and streams, not even with “biodegradable soap”, they too pollute! Carry water away from the source to wash and bathe, use a sieve to strain dish water to remove as much debris as possible from dishwater then dispersed dirty, soapy water across impacted ground (the road) or rocks.
Never clean fish in a water source. Discard fish entrails at least 200 feet away from camp and water.
Gather Trash (even if it’s not yours)
Trashy areas make for poor pictures and an unhealthy ecosystem. Remember, food trash is litter too! Pack out your fruit peels and eggshells (and don’t give the marmots a stomachache.)
Don’t Pick Wildflowers
Help keep this area the Wildflower Capital of Colorado! When left alone, flowers influence the local ecosystem all year round, but will only last a few days in a vase. Please don’t rob Colorful Colorado of its colors!