There is now a permanent closure of South Colony road at 2.6 miles past the lower TH/parking lot (approximately one-half mile past the Rainbow Trail marker). At the closure is a new gate and parking for about 30 vehicles. They also have new designated campsites along the road and are in the process of constructing designated campsites in the basin. The ranger also told me today that eventually, there will be a permit/fee system to access the South Colony area, but that is several years away.
I remember there being some issues with dispersed campsites when I was there in July of 2008, but I think a lot of that will decrease when people have to backpack in to camp once the road is closed. I saw mostly people driving up in big trucks and bringing all kinds of odd things with them. If you have to carry that a couple of miles who is going to want to bring it? It would be ashamed to see a back country area turn into a fee area.
Fees or not, this project has been a long time coming. South Colony basin is one of the most spectacular areas in Colorado, but the impact over the years has been significant. With these new controls, it will hopefully help return it to a relatively prestine state.
As much as I loved the cornucopia of barley pop rock crawlin' up there did for us a few times over the years this is indeed a very good thing. I'm against fees for backcountry camping and parking too. I never have had my Inter Agency Pass questioned for parking though.
Having seen what happened to the Gros Ventre in Wyoming I wondered if Wilderness designation would bring the Sangres unfortunate notoriety. Although Willow and many East side trails can get crowded there's still a lot of solitude in such a wonderful, narrow, rugged, and spectacular Range.