Mount Evans slated to open June 4, Brainard June 11
FORT COLLINS, Colo. (May 25, 2021) – Visitors to Mount Evans and Brainard Lake, two popular locations on the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests, will be required to make reservations through Recreation.gov this season. Visitors can preview the reservation sites now and are encouraged to establish a Recreation.gov account in advance.
Mount Evans Recreation Area is tentatively scheduled to open June 4, weather dependent. Reservations for Mount Evans can be made on recreation.gov starting June 2 and reservations can be made up to 30 days in advance.
Brainard Lake Recreation Area is tentatively scheduled to open June 11, weather dependent. The upper elevations lots typically open in early July. Reservations for Brainard Lake can be made on recreation.gov starting May 27 and can be made up to 14 days in advance.
“Our goal is to reduce crowding and improve the overall experience, which will also benefit the wildlife, like mountain goats, that call Mount Evans home,” said Reid Armstrong, public affairs specialist with the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests. “It will take some advance planning, and visitors will need to make some extra time to learn about the areas and secure a reservation. We also recommend that before heading out, check the forests Know Before You Go page for all the latest updates and alerts.”
These two iconic locations are among the Forests’ most visited recreation areas, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world. The reservation system is aimed at reducing wait times, lines, and crowding at these areas’ welcome stations, visitors’ centers, and attractions. Dispersing visitors across the days and weeks will reduce impacts on wildlife and improve available parking. The new system should reduce crowding, allowing for proper social distancing and creating a more enjoyable and safer outdoor experience.
Mount Evans Recreation Area features the highest paved road in North America, which leads to the summit one of Colorado’s famous 14ers. Along the way are stops that offer glances into life in the high alpine environment, including Mount Goliath and its demonstration garden managed by Denver Botanic Gardens. Mount Evans is managed in partnership with Colorado Department of Transportation, which oversees the road, and Denver Mountain Parks, which runs Summit Lake Park. CDOT maintenance crews started plowing the highway on May 17, and crews will work into early June clearing snow along the highway from the gates at Echo Mount Lake Lodge to the summit of Mount Evans.
Brainard Lake Recreation Area is a portal to Indian Peaks Wilderness Area with hiking trails that lead into some of the area’s most rugged, high alpine terrain. The lake itself offers opportunities to picnic, fish and view wildlife within the stunning backdrop of the Continental Divide. The general area is open year-round but in the summer is managed by American Lands and Leisure, a private concessionaire contracted to provide daily maintenance and operations. Visitors with a campground reservation at Pawnee Campground will not need an additional reservation.
At each location, visitors will be able to select a reservation time slot from multiple windows throughout the day and decide on details about where they want to go (e.g. which parking area at Brainard and which sites on Mount Evans). While the base costs will not change, customers will be charged a $2 reservation fee by recreation.gov. Reservations are not required for biking and hiking into these areas. Annual and lifetime passholders will still need to make reservations and will only pay the $2 reservation fee. People who arrive without a reservation will need to return to a place where they can get a cell phone signal to secure a timed entry ticket.