North Star Aspen

Access to the Roaring Fork River through North Star Nature Preserve is closed during the Nordic ski season with the exception of the Stillwater Bridge takeout area. A groomed Nordic loop between the Hwy. 82 and the river is open to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing only (snowshoers should use the far edge of the groomed corduroy and leave the remainder of the groomed track for skiing). NO WALKING is permitted on the Nordic track. Also, remember, North Star is closed from dusk to dawn.

BEAVER DAMS AT NORTH START: Beavers have repaired at least two dams that span the river at North Star Nature Preserve. Summer paddlers must be prepared to cross over them on foot as needed, particularly if you are paddling upstream. Wear shoes. Crossing over the dams is the preferred strategy; getting off the river to circumvent them is not.

The former practice of "double parking" at Wildwood (parking behind another vehicle and leaving keys in cars so users can shuffle cars to get out) will not be permitted, the U.S. Forest Service has decided (Wildwood is a Forest Service property). If all of the parking places are taken, drop off gear and people, and drive vehicle to another North Star parking area. Use a bicycle to return to Wildwood.

By Forest Service order, dogs are not permitted at the Wildwood launch site. Dogs are also not permitted at North Star Nature Preserve. Please leave your pet at home. Floating the river through North Star with a dog is prohibited.

North Star Nature Preserve is closed from dusk to dawn. Be sure you are off the preserve by nightfall.

Floating the Roaring Fork River through North Star is a wonderful way to experience nature. North Star is a nature preserve, where you are one among many species. Please be respectful of the rules and regulations by being quiet, staying on your watercraft and leaving your dog at home. 

Stand-up paddleboards, canoes and kayaks are the preferred vessels for floating through the Preserve. The river through North Star flows gently, making it a suitable float for families and beginners. The water, however, is very cold, especially in early summer.

Paddling at North Star is a float-through-only experience. The float from Wildwood goes through private property before reaching the Preserve. There is no access to the land until you reach the designated North Star Beach (signs are posted). The Beach is NOT a takeout. River travelers may only take out at South Gate and the Pedestrian Bridge. Be prepared to stay on your watercraft once you embark on a float. Please use the takeout at the pedestrian bridge to end your float if you do not leave the river at South Gate. Danger awaits if you continue beyond the bridge.

North Star is a nature preserve. Please obey all regulations. Again, there is no stopping/beaching anywhere outside of the designated Beach (marked with signage) and the designated takeout/put-ins. There is absolutely no access to the west side of the river (the Hwy. 82 side is the east side). No audible music is permitted. North Star is a Quiet Zone - please lower your voice or, better yet, float through in silence and enjoy the experience. Also, please pack out everything you bring with you.

  • Audible music and loud voices
  • Glass containers of any kind
  • Dog(s)
Moose are among the wild animals that call North Star home. Moose are unpredictable and may behave aggressively if they perceive a threat. Moose attacks on humans often involve dogs, as dogs remind moose of wolves. Dogs are not permitted at North Star and should be left at home. If you come upon a moose while floating, stop and pull to the side and wait. Ideally, boaters should stay 100 yards (the length of a football field) from a moose. In the event of aggressive moose behavior at North Star, Open Space and Trails may close access to the property. Please obey closure signs.

Beavers also inhabit North Star. Paddlers are required to distance themselves as much as possible from beavers and beaver lodges. Beaver dams, if they exist, are protected. Please don't attempt to dismantle a dam. If a beaver dam is present, be prepared to negotiate over or around it as advised by signage at river access points. 

Parking is extremely limited at North Star Nature Preserve and the Wildwood put-in. The easiest method of floating the river is to have a friend/relative drop you off at a launch point along with your watercraft, and pick you up at the end of your float. Commercial guide/shuttle services are also available to drop and pick you up, and also to guide you on the water. Only permitted commercial operators are allowed to shuttle/guide at North Star/Wildwood. Permitted commercial operators for 2024 have not yet been selected.

Map - Where to park at North Star

Parking is limited. If you choose to drive, you must park in a legal parking spot. If none are available, return at a different time or day, or arrange for a shuttle. There is no guarantee there will be vehicle access to North Star/Wildwood at any given time. Here are a few possibilities to deal with the logistics:

  • Drop a locked bike at the takeout, drive to Wildwood to unload and find an available parking spot at Wildwood (keep in mind, there may not be one). At the conclusion of the float, one individual rides the bike back up to Wildwood to retrieve the vehicle. There are two, 15-minute loading spots at the takeout. Have the rest of your party deflate your paddleboards/prepare the gear for a quick load-up and departure. Please lock bikes to the bike racks that have been provided at access points; please do not lock them to the bridge or other objects.
  • Bring two bikes and locks. Drop a locked bike at the takeout, drop off your party and vessels at Wildwood and, if there is no available parking at Wildwood, drive to another designated parking area to find a spot. Use the second bicycle to ride back up to Wildwood and lock it there. Retrieve it after your float. Use the bike at the takeout to retrieve your vehicle. Or walk. The distances aren’t great. It is 0.3 miles from the takeout to the North lot and 0.75 miles to South Gate. The distance between the takeout and Wildwood is about 2 miles.
  • If all the parking lots are full, postpone your outing until space is available. Illegal parking could result in a citation.