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Old 04-10-2012, 10:07 AM
 
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If we don't get significant moisture soon, and I mean SOON, there will be campfire bans. In my area (Mesa County) we had campfire bans in portions of the early 2000's. The latest figure I heard is that we are just under 50% regarding snow pack.

Last edited by DOUBLE H; 04-10-2012 at 06:57 PM..
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Old 04-10-2012, 10:38 AM
 
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Wow. I have not heard of campstoves ever being banned here, but I guess it could be possible. Certainly camp fires are banned with a lot of regularity - it seems like they are banned more than allowed. However, most backpackers don't bother with campfires anyhow - it is quite difficult to find sticks and wood at higher elevations, it can cause forest fires extremely easily (especially with the high winds), and then there's the whole leave no trace thing.

This was article from last year:
Going camping? Better take a stove. Fires are banned in local forests. | Camping

And these are the fire stages:
http://parks.state.co.us/SiteCollect...tionStages.pdf


I wouldn't be scared away from colorado because it is dry. The limited snowpack at higher elevations could mean an earlier start to the season. Besides, if it stays dry - the positive is you won't get rained on! But seriously, pay attention to where the fires are and possibly have a backup area to go to. And abide by the fire restrictions - too risky and irresponsible not to. I'd probably look into the Collegiate Peaks area as it is gorgeous and a little closer to you but farther than the front range. Plus if fires are bad you can pull back and do some fishing on Arkansas or nearby. Front Range like Indian Peaks and RMNP are nice but have bigger crowds and require permits and some more prep.

Good luck.
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Old 04-10-2012, 11:36 AM
 
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If the fire danger becomes severe enough, the Forest Service has the authority to ban access to the Forest altogether. This was done in 2002 in some of the National Forests in New Mexico when the fire danger became too extreme. No one should dismiss the possibility of extreme fire danger occurring in Colorado this summer. Fire danger in southern Colorado is already at levels that would be consistent with mid-May to mid-June--up to two months ahead of normal. So far, this spring has been far drier than normal--following a very dry winter in many areas of Colorado. Southern Colorado is in especially poor shape--southern Colorado is normally very dry in late May through early July, so the lack of spring moisture will cause extreme fire danger to develop there very quickly. A normal or active Southwest Monsoon can mitigate the fire danger there starting in around mid-July, but that will do little for streamflows. As for the northern half of Colorado, typically May and June are fairly wet in many areas, with a pronounced drying trend in July-September. If precipitation remains below normal there for the remainder of the spring, fire danger could be severe through the whole summer.

All of this is of practical concern for people looking to recreate in Colorado this summer, but there is also the aesthetic matter. Put simply, are people willing to spend their hard-earned and scarce money to visit Colorado this summer, when much of the state may be abnormally brown for summer (even in the high country), and the possibility of low air quality and diminished views because of smoke from fires? I would sure be thinking about that. By the way, the fires in the Southwest in 2002 in Arizona, New Mexico, and southern Colorado put up enough smoke to impair visibility and cause air quality problems as far away as Missouri. I know--I was in Kansas City that June and one could smell and see the smoke from the Southwest fires even there.

This, from the latest US Seasonal Drought Outlook from the Climate Prediction Center ( http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/product...l_drought.html )

Quote:
Farther east and south, from central California, the Great Basin, and the Southwest through southern sections of the Plains, dry conditions are favored in various (but in all cases large) parts of the region for time periods ranging from the next 5 days through the 3-month outlook valid April – June 2012, keeping drought intact with some expansion expected in areas of the central Rockies and southwestern Arizona not currently experiencing drought.
Drought of some magnitude is now in place all across Colorado:

From the US Drought Monitor from USDA



With this from the narrative:

Quote:
The West: The snow totals continue to be below normal for much of the western United States, and coupled with temperatures well above normal, the region is seeing snowpack being reduced much earlier than normal. . . For Colorado and Utah, the conditions were unusual, with the lack of snowfall in the upper elevations and the early melt. In response, D2 was expanded in northwest Colorado and D1 was also expanded in western Colorado and into eastern Utah.

Last edited by jazzlover; 04-10-2012 at 11:46 AM..
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Old 04-10-2012, 01:46 PM
 
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Yeah, you might want to head someplace else where fire danger is low. But I'm warning you, if you go to Montana, with 100% certainty, you will get eaten by a grizzly bear. Almost all Montana grizzlies have acquired a taste for human flesh and will stop at nothing to get more.
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Old 04-10-2012, 02:04 PM
 
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Last summer many of the national forests in New Mexico were closed due to the fires.

Who knows, tho, what this summer will bring for the rockies.

My concern would be these guys are probably fairly new to backpacking if they are looking to rent equipment. My recommendation would be to save the travel money, outfit oneself at a local sporting goods so as not to have to rent, and practice with one's own equipment locally.

As a seasoned Colorado backpacker, it's nice to have at least rudimentary skills to bring to this neck of the woods!

Just my 2 cents worth,
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Old 04-10-2012, 06:23 PM
 
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While I'm definitely no expert, I have been backpacking several times. Which is why my initial post was looking for an easier trail. Maybe a ten mile loop or so, with a decent place to fish.
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Old 04-10-2012, 11:03 PM
 
Location: SE Portland, OR
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzlover View Post
Not much fun backpacking or camping if ALL open fires are banned (even campstoves), which, as things stand now, is a very real possibility this summer.
Depends on what you value out of a trip.
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Old 04-11-2012, 08:53 AM
 
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Luke9686 View Post
While I'm definitely no expert, I have been backpacking several times. Which is why my initial post was looking for an easier trail. Maybe a ten mile loop or so, with a decent place to fish.

Go to Holy Cross Wilderness. There's several loops you can choose from. You'll encounter streams and lakes. The wilderness encompasses both lower and higher elevation hikes so you can pick-and-choose what type of hike you prefer. (Some other parts of Colorado limit your choice).

Holy Cross Wilderness Area
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