After almost three weeks of closure, Coloradans will be able to access two of the state’s most popular national forests once again.
Parts of the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests, shut down last month because of wildfire threats, will reopen to the public as of 6 a.m. Tuesday. The forests overlap Boulder, Gilpin, Clear Creek, Grand and Larimer counties, where the two largest fires of the season — Cameron Peak and East Troublesome — burned.
Areas affected by recent wildfires will remain closed due to safety concerns.
The U.S. Forest Service announced the reopenings Monday. The closures began on Oct. 21, with the agency citing high potential for wildfire and rapid growth once fires started. That night, the East Troublesome fire in Grand County gained speed, growing more than 100,000 acres by the next morning.
Monday’s snow may serve as a “season-ending” event for wildfires, according to fire managers. The National Weather Service in Boulder on Monday morning forecast 6 inches to a foot of snow in the northern mountains. A snowstorm last month helped to slow fires down but was not enough to help snuff out the flames entirely.
The forests will remain under Stage 2 fire bans as of Tuesday, down from Stage 3. Stage 2 forbids open flames — such as from a fire pit, wood stove or charcoal grill — but gas-powered stoves are still allowed. Recreational shooting is also not allowed, except for licensed hunting.
Forest supervisors warn that November is forecast to continue a generally hot and dry trend, so the threat of new fires will likely continue for some time. As of Thursday, a quarter of Colorado was in the most serious category of drought.