The Blue River State Wildlife Area is an extremely scenic Summit County destination located about halfway between Silverthorne and Kremmling, Colorado. In total, the Blue River SWA comprises about 150 acres of protected land upstream from Heeney and the Green Mountain Reservoir.
The Blue River SWA consists of three separate properties. North to south, this includes the Blue River Unit (105 acres), the Eagle’s Nest Unit (19 acres), and the Sutton Unit (23 acres). Each unit shares a border with the Blue River and a combination of private land and the White River National Forest.
To enter the Blue River State Wildlife Area, a valid state fishing, hunting, or public land use license is required for everyone that is 18 years of age or older. Aside from this, there are no fees to visit or park.
Activities in Blue River SWA
With rushing waters, dense forests, wildflowers, and mountain views, the Blue River SWA is an extremely scenic stop for anyone exploring Colorado’s high country. While the area is often a destination for its gold medal fishing waters, the Blue River Unit of the Blue River SWA contains informative kiosks and a few designated wildlife viewing areas.
Birding & Wildlife Viewing: Although the high elevation zones of the Blue River SWA seldom see a lot of avian traffic, the Eagle’s Nest Unit gets its name from the Bald Eagles that frequent the area. Beyond the national bird, visitors may also spot osprey, hummingbirds, titmice, and more.
On the ground, the Blue River SWA is occasionally visited by White River National Forest species such as deer, elk, fox, and moose.
Boating: Non-motorized boats are permitted for travel on the Blue River, without the need of a permit. The Blue River SWA borders the “Upper Blue River” section of the Blue River, which is a popular 2.5-mile whitewater rafting route for early-season Class III to IV rapids.
Camping: There is no camping permitted in the Blue River State Wildlife Area. Nearby, the White River National Forest maintains the first-come, first-served Blue River Campground adjacent to the Eagle’s Nest Unit of the Blue River SWA. The campground is open during the summer and fall with public vault toilets available onsite.
Fishing: More than anything, the Blue River State Wildlife Area is popular for fishing in the body of water of the same name. Licensed anglers generally report good fishing conditions for native and downstream stocked species. Most commonly, the Blue River yields opportunities to catch rainbow trout, brown trout, and kokanee salmon.
Picnicking: While many visitors spend the day on the water, there are no developed picnic areas or restrooms within the Blue River State Wildlife Area. However, the Columbine Landing Recreation Site (located between the Sutton & Eagle’s Nest Units) is free to visit, courtesy of the US Forest Service.
Address: Blue River State Wildlife Area, State Highway 9, Silverthorne, CO 80498
Hours: Daylight Hours
Fees: CO fishing, hunting, or public lands license required
Maps & Information: https://cpw.state.co.us/learn/Maps/BlueRiverSWA_geo.pdf
Campground Nearby: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/whiteriver/recarea/?recid=41283