Dispersed Camping – Upper Williams Fork

Byers Peak Wilderness. Camp on the banks of the easy flowing William’s Fork river. Catch and eat some fresh fish. The air here is clear and clean. Try not to let the giant Henderson Mill molybdenum mine just over Ute Pass disturb you.

David Ellis tepee and Davis wall tent. Looks like a Civil War scene.

The campsites here are many but not as scenic as we are used to in Colorado, with beetle kill and yes, a huge mine. But you can’t see this eyesore from most sites. There are plenty of flat pull-offs with room to be loud and wild along the river but try not to camp on top of each other folks. Firewood in the area is easy to find and the hiking opportunities are quality.

The lake in early July. Still lots of snow.

The long hike up Lake Evelyn trail is highly recommended. Drive to the trail head and enjoy the steep cliffs and hairpin turns of that scary road 32. If you are the passenger in the car please try to exercise patience with the driver.

Long walk through the pines and wildflowers to Lake Evelyn.

It’s a big hike but even the little kids can handle it. As always, start early so you don’t die of lightening. Nobody wants to haul your charred lifeless ass off a mountain. On the trail, wildflowers blanket every meadow and the damp forest is covered in moss and ferns getting their chance at light after a very long winter sleeping under the snow. Lake Evelyn sits at 11,000 feet so bring a jacket and a 3 wt. fly rod. There are plenty of high alpine cutthroat trout dying to eat a mosquito or midge pattern.

Brilliant rosy cutthroat cheaks.

Our youngest was only about three the last time we camped here. We tried to tell her to stay the hell our of the campfire ashes. Listening wasn’t her strong suit. Being mean parents, we didn’t try too hard to clean her up. And besides, there are no mirrors in camp so she remained looking like a drunk little baseball player all weekend.

There are tons of fish in the river, and CPW asks that you keep all the Brook Trout you catch in this creek as they are deemed invasive. Truth be told, so are rainbows and browns if we are being honest. Brook trout are delicious, especially fresh from the river. My favorite way to cook them is to first clean them like this, then add a ton of butter to a Lodge cast iron pan, dust them with Zatarain’s Fish Fri Cajun edition, and cook til done.

Fat brook trout for dinner.

“Cherish these moments – tomorrow they’ll be memories.”

Cory netting a Lake Evelyn cutthroat in style

Directions: Drive up to the Upper Williams Fork past Ute Pass. Turn right or left after the mine on Road 3. All the way south is South Fork Campground. First come, first served. Everywhere else on the river is dispersed. Dispersed is also available up Keyser creek towards Lake Evelyn trail head but not as much.

Published by willbarch78

I grew up in the middle of nowhere Texas. The nearest Walmart was a full two hours away. My family still runs a ranch back home that I grew up on, but at some point in my treasured youth I hung up the idea of becoming a cowboy, and pursued my passion for architecture. Today I still find myself trying to fit in to a life that has treated me with the average ups and downs one can expect after a certain number of years. My wife and I moved to Denver after attending Texas Tech School of Architecture in Lubbock as we needed a grade change from the Llano Estacado. We camp with our three growing girls all summer and into the fall while I write and create and fly fish to maintain sanity. Life is moving fast as our careers and children progress in all areas, so being outdoors with each other keeps us mostly grounded.

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