White River National Forest temporarily closes crucial elk calving areas

Staff report
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White River National Forest/Courtesy photo

White River National Forest officials are reminding people planning to recreate on the forest about the important seasonal trail closures in place in critical areas on the Aspen and Eagle-Holy Cross ranger districts to protect calving elk. 

The White River National Forest has worked closely with Colorado Parks and Wildlife to identify the most critical calving areas for elk, which are seasonally closed to all uses to reduce disturbance, officials said. 

“Elk return to these areas every year because they offer the water, forage, and seclusion elk need to survive, birth, and nurse without being startled or disrupted,” said Jennifer Prusse, acting wildlife and fish program manager. “Repeated disturbance to elk from people and dogs during calving season in these critical areas has led to lowered calf survival rates.” 

The White River National Forest is renowned for both its incredible year-round recreational opportunities, as well as its tremendous wildlife resources. Maintaining both requires finding a balance, particularly in sensitive areas during sensitive times, such as elk calving areas, officials said.

“Now that the snow is melting and these areas are more accessible, we are seeing an increasing number of closure violations from hikers, dog walkers, and cyclists in areas closed for elk calving,” Prusse said. “Please help us protect this incredible wildlife resource by using an alternative area during these seasonal closures.” 

Specific roads and trails in critical elk calving areas are seasonally closed to all uses:

Aspen-Sopris Ranger District

  • Tom Blake Trail, Sequel Trail, and other trails in the Elk Camp and Two Creeks vicinity are closed April 25-June 20. These trails and the surrounding area open June 21.
  • Anaerobic Nightmare Trail is closed through June 27. This trail and the surrounding area open June 28.
  • Government Trail #1980 and Sugarbowl Trail are closed through June 27. These trails and the surrounding area open June 28.

Suggested alternative trails include the Highline/Lowline trails (open year round); Sky Mountain Park trails (open May 16); North Rim Trail (opens May 16); South Rim Trail (open year round); Ditch Trail (open year round); Sam’s Knob and Alpine Springs trails; West Government Trail; and Elk Camp work roads. Visit for additional information on all of these trails. For other trail suggestions or more information on this seasonal closure, contact the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District at 970-963-2266.

Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District

  • Knob Hill #2021: Opened on April 16
  • Whiskey Creek #2348: Closed currently–June 20 (opens on June 21)
  • Eastern Hillside #2347: Closed currently–June 20 (opens on June 21)
  • North Trail #1896: April 15–June 20 (opens on June 21)
  • Buffehr Creek #2111: April 15–June 20 (opens on June 21)
  • Everkrisp Trail #2122:  Closed Nov. 23–June 20 (opens June 21)
  • Son of Middle Creek #2136: April 15–June 20 (opens on June 21)
  • Paulie’s Plunge/Stone Creek #2349: May 15–June 20 (opens on June 21)
  • Two Elk #2005 (from the west entrance at the second bridge to the east end at the Vail Bike Path): May 6–June 30 (opens on July 1).

Additionally, Beaver Creek’s McCoy Park and the Vail Back Bowls are closed to human entry between May 6-June 30, opening on July 1. 

For information about other seasonal trail closures, open trails, and current trail conditions in the Eagle Valley, please visit or contact the Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District at 970-827-5715.


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