History of Arapaho National Forest Area

Established in 1908 and named after one of the several Native American tribes who spent their summers in the Grand Lake area, the Arapaho National Forest encompasses more than 440,000 acres of mountain peaks, trails, campsites, lakes, rivers and forests in Grand County. In addition to Rocky Mountain National Park, much of the land surrounding Grand Lake is part of the Arapaho National Forest, including the Never Summer Wilderness, the Byers Peak Wilderness, the Indian Peaks Wilderness and the Vasquez Peak Wilderness.

Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest Map

These beautiful, rugged wilderness areas are managed by the Sulphur Ranger District office, located in Granby, Colorado, and offer some of the most spectacular places for hiking, camping, horseback riding, mountain biking and more.

Peaceful Waters of Monarch Lake
Peaceful Waters of Monarch Lake
Arapaho National Forest Area
Alpenglow on Lake Granby

Arapaho National Recreation Area (ANRA)

In addition to these spectacular wilderness areas, the Arapaho National Recreation Area (ANRA) was established in 1978 as a special designation to oversee 35,000 acres of some of the finest recreational lakes in Colorado, including Lake Granby, Shadow Mountain Lake, Monarch Lake, Willow Creek Reservoir and Meadow Creek Reservoir. Together, with Grand Lake as the cherry on top, this Upper Colorado River Valley region is often referred to as “The Great Lakes of Colorado” and is a mecca for boaters, paddlers and anglers.

The Arapaho National Forest is a historical treasure, with a rich past dating back over one hundred years. Established in 1908, now spanning nearly one million acres across northern Colorado and southern Wyoming, the Arapaho National Forest offers a breathtaking natural retreat. Its stunning alpine meadows, soaring peaks, and crystal clear waters have captivated adventurers for generations and continue to do so today. With its wide variety of recreational activities including hiking, fishing, camping and bird watching, it’s no wonder the Arapaho National Forest has become such a beloved destination for those seeking solace away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Get ready to explore the history of this awe-inspiring land!

Learn more about fees, passes and campgrounds for the Arapaho National Forest.