National Forest Roads

While the bulk of Colorado's roads are based on TIGER 2009 data, for National Forest roads the TIGER roads were deleted in favor of NF roads. The advantages are many, up to date road existence, more accurate vectors, road numbers and names, road type, and permanently closed roads.

The major exception to deleting TIGER roads would be county through roads, by example Gunnison County 12, better known as the Kebler Pass Road. Generally speaking, the NF road data did not include these through roads.

The road type allowed for the creation of a unique line type for High Clearance roads and closed roads are given a weak line type. So a quick glance at the map can give you much more information about if a road exists and the expected conditions.

Closed roads are shown for two reasons: 1) a clear indication that a once available road is no longer driveable and 2) a possible hiking trail. The only downside of the trail idea is that a closed road would be neither maintained as a road or a trail, so expect some deadfall.


The following three MapSource screenshots will help you understand the new high clearance line type and compare Above the Timber 24K topos to Garmin 24K topos of the same area. This is the area between US50 and Marshall Pass in the Gunnison NF. The dashed gray line shows those roads designated as high clearance in the forest data. The continous lines show roads suitable for passenger cars. Also shown are several closed roads, lower-right.

Here we see that Garmin codes their maps to not show roads, except major highways, at the 200 foot contour detail level.

In order to see secondary and tertiary roads you have to increase the detail two levels which brings on 40-foot contours.

Of further interest, compare the identical intersection along Indian Creek, the number and names of the roads differ significantly. You be the judge which will be more useful in the field.