White River National Forest | Things To Do In Glenwood CO

White River National Forest

In October 1891, the White River Plateau Timberland Reserve, the precursor of the White River National Forest, was set aside by executive order of President Benjamin Harrison. It was the first such designation in Colorado and only the second in the nation. At the time, it covered more than 1.1 million acres of land and was overseen by just one supervisor and three rangers.

In 1901, the White River hosted Vice President Teddy Roosevelt on one of his big game hunting expeditions based out of the Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs.  Roosevelt was successful in killing a trophy mountain lion that measured eight feet in length and weighed in excess of 220 pounds.

Following an Act of Congress in 1905, “forest reserves” were renamed “national forests.” It was at this time it became known as the White River National Forest. In 1932, with the opening of Hayden Peak, a ski area near Aspen, the White River National Forest took the first step toward becoming the home of some of the most renowned ski areas in the country and the world.

Things to do in White River National Forest

From skiing and snowmobiling to camping, hiking and hunting, there are countless ways for visitors to enjoy the White River National Forest. Some places have been designated as “special” and are worth a visit for their extraordinary beauty or historic significance. These include the Maroon Bells Scenic Area, the 82-mile Flat Tops Scenic Byway and the historic Crystal Mill near Marble, Colorado.

With more than 10 million visitors per year, the White River National Forest is by far the most visited recreational forest in the country. It spans 2.3 million acres and includes:

  • 8 Wilderness areas
  • 12 ski resorts
  • 4 major reservoirs
  • 10 peaks higher than 14,000 feet in elevation
  • 2,500 miles of trails
  • 1,900 miles of Forest Service system roads

Pop in the White River National Forest Supervisor’s Office at 900 Grand Avenue for activity ideas, trail maps, and condition updates, or try one of these activities in the White River National Forest on your next trip.

Explore all the things to do in Glenwood Springs; there is something for everyone and a new adventure to be had every day!


Hanging Lake in Summer

Hanging Lake is a crystal-clear, travertine lake located high atop the cliffs of Glenwood Canyon. The mile-long hike is steep and rigorous, but rewarding once you see the natural beauty that awaits you at the top.

Sunlight Mountain Resort Snowboarder

Glenwood Springs’ very own ski resort is one of the best-kept secrets in Colorado. Fun, friendly, and best of all – affordable! Sunlight is a wintertime winner with families and groups.

Whitewater Activity Area Surfer

Kayakers, stand up paddleboarders, and playboaters can show off and practice their skills at Glenwood’s White Water Activity area where a G-wave feature is the main attraction.

Colorado Hunting Trip Participants

Surrounded by the White River National Forest, home to thriving herds of elk and deer, Glenwood Springs is a big game hunter’s paradise. Plan your next hunting trip today!

Tent Camping in the CO Backcountry

Get away from the daily grind; plan a camping trip to the White River National Forest. East, west, north or south, Glenwood Springs is surrounded by the nation’s most visited forest for recreation.

Elk in Glenwood Springs Colorado

Glenwood Springs shares the natural and urban landscape with Colorado’s most spectacular wildlife. Find out where to spot bighorn sheep, elk, mule deer, and other majestic animals.