STEAMBOAT SPRINGS The U.S. Forest Service is welcoming campers to the Routt National Forest, but officials want to make sure the expected 2,000 visitors to the public land are well-informed about camping etiquette.
"We've never before had this kind of group that we are expecting to be camping," district recreation manager Ray George said.
George said he estimates at least 2,000 people will camp in the Routt National Forest over the Fourth of July holiday, and his biggest concern is that all of them won't be privy to the fire dangers that exist in a dry July.
First and foremost, no fireworks are allowed in the national forest. Plus, all fires should be enclosed in a stone ring or metal stove.
"They should be clearing away dry vegetation and have water on hand," George said.
Campers shouldn't try to burn bottles, cans and eggshells because someone will just have to clean the articles out of the pit sooner or later, he said.
Most importantly, campers need to make sure their fires are completely out. That means dousing them with water not throwing dirt on them.
"People just need to spend a little time to make sure the fire goes out," George said.
Plus, campers setting up in undesignated camping spots without existing fire rings are encouraged to use camp stoves instead of building a stone ring.
"It's just less black rocks that will be around," George said.
No camping is allowed within 100 feet of streams or lakes. And the general rule is for a camper to leave a campsite cleaner than it was before he or she came. This rule is especially important this week because there will be other people using the campsite soon after the campers leave, George said.
"I expect that some of the folks will be headed to the (Strawberry Park) hot springs," he said.
No camping is allowed within 150 yards of the parking lot. Also, the hot springs area is the only place where fires are not allowed because of the high density of people and the extra-dry conditions there, George said.
The Forest Service also expects large numbers of campers at Buffalo and Rabbit Ears passes.
Extra Forest Service officials will be on hand during the holiday. They will be available to answer questions and to help point out good camping spots.
The Hahn's Peak/Bears Ears District office won't be open on the holiday but will be open the rest of the week. (Doug Crowl is a reporter with the Steamboat Pilot/Today).