Best ATV Trails Colorado
Many Colorado trails are open to ATVs. (Photo: Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images )
An ATV is a great way to explore the back roads and trails in Colorado's national forests. Colorado has 10 national forests that offer a variety of campsites and trails open to ATVs. From scenic wooded trails to high mountain passes, your ATV can help you discover more of all Colorado has to offer. You can camp for free in many areas of the national forests, making camping and ATV riding an affordable getaway with family or friends.
National Forest Campgrounds
When camping in the national forest, you can choose designated camping areas or dispersed camping. Some campsites accept advance reservations, while others operate on a first-come, first-served basis. But the most popular sites tend to fill quickly during the summer months, especially on weekends. These sites include tent pads, grills or fire rings, pit toilets and most have water available. Some have campground hosts on site to answer questions and help keep the campground orderly. You can locate campsites and make reservations at Recreation.gov.
The Forest Service allows camping in areas of the national forests outside of designated campgrounds. This dispersed camping offers no water, toilets or other facilities, but it's free and you'll find plenty of company in popular dispersed camping areas. You can set up your tent or RV and park your ATVs and trailers alongside. Dispersed camping is ideal for family groups or friends that want to camp together. If you're not sure where to camp, take any forest service road toward an established campground. Likely you'll see people camping along the road. Try to choose a site that's been used before, in order to keep as much of the forest untouched as possible. Keep your camp 100 feet from any road, trailhead, stream or lake and pack out all your trash.
In order to ride your ATV on public lands, including national forest roads and trails, you'll need a Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Permit. Submit your permit application and fee to the Colorado State Parks Registration Unit and it will issue you a sticker to place on your ATV. The sticker must be renewed each March. You may ride on any road or trail that's open to motorized vehicles. Observe all warning signs. Persons younger than 10 can't operate an ATV on public land in Colorado.
Forest fires are a threat during dry conditions. If you start a fire, not only do you endanger your own life and property, but you could be charged with damages. Periodically counties will enact fire bans. When a fire ban is in effect you cannot have a campfire of any kind. Violation of a fire ban can result in a stiff fine. Also, the state of Colorado requires spark arrestors on ATVs.