The White River National Forest is the very prototype of a New West forest. The Forest Service estimates that 34,000 people make their living from the forest, though that far underestimates its value. The forest is a huge backyard for those who live along its edge, and it's the first big mountain playground for metropolitan Denver and Boulder's 2.5 million residents.
From the Eisenhower Tunnel, where
Interstate 70 pierces the Continental Divide about an hour west of
Denver, you can drive more than three and a half hours while always
staying within sight of the White River Forest. Along the way you
might glimpse one or more of its 10 peaks that pierce 14,000 feet.
The airport at Eagle, which serves the Vail area, has boomed to the
state's third busiest, after Denver International and Colorado
The largest concentration of ski lifts
outside of Europe's Alps is found here; so is the nation's largest
elk herd, which numbers 20,000 (30,000 in summers on the flat
tops). Counties in which the forest is located rank among the
country's top dozen in several statistical slots: highest per
capita income, percentage of women in the workforce, education and
median price of single-family homes. - A.B.