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Camping: Colorado > Rio Grande National Forest > Conejos Peak Ranger District

Quick Facts

Archuleta Trail

Beginning Elevation: 8,800 Feet (2743.1 Meters)
Difficulty: More Difficult
Elevation Gain: 1,600 Feet (498.8 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 10,400 Feet (3241.9 Meters) Ends at junction with Road # 124 in upper Archuleta Creek drainage
Length, One-way: 4.0 Miles (6.67 Kilometers)
Trail Number: 741
Usage: Light
USGS Maps: Chama Peak

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

Wildflowers with driftwood
Copyright: Unknown
Wildflowers with driftwood
The Archuleta Trail follows Archuleta Creek into the upper reaches of the drainage. Aside from the trail and the grazing of cattle, few signs of human use can be seen in this valley. The visitor may experience relative solitude traveling through the forests of aspen, spruce, and fir. The forests are broken occasionally by dry mountain meadows, which are filled with the blooms of corn husk lilies in midsummer.

This wide circular valley is bounded on the west by the colorfully banded peaks of the Continental Divide. The peaks are composed of uplifted Precambrian (370 million years old) rock topped by younger layers of volcanic basalts. As the trail winds over the forested slopes north of Archuleta Creek, the ravines of the innumerable tributary streams beckon the hiker to step off the trail and explore the unknown backcountry.

As in Chama Basin as a whole, wildlife abounds in the Archuleta drainage. Elk may be seen grazing in the meadows during early morning and evening and the lucky hiker may chance upon a coyote hunting for meadow mice at dusk. Many other birds and mammals may be seen in the valley. Fishing on little known Archuleta Creek is undoubtedly an experience that will be long remembered.

The Archuleta Trail is bounded by private property for the first mile and visitors are asked to respect property boundaries.

The Archuleta Creek Trail provides an ideal day trip for those camping on the Chama River but can also be the beginning of a backpacking trip within Chama Basin. By following Road #124 east from its junction with the Archuleta Trail #741 and continue north into upper Chama Basin, or descend to the Chama River Camping Area, to complete a 12 mile circular trip. The Archuleta Trail gives access to the western portion of Chama Basin, one of the most scenic and wild places on the Conejos Peak Ranger District. The trail follows Archuleta Creek, climbing steadily but gradually from the Chama River valley. Despite the easy grade and access, the trail is infrequently used and is ideal for those seeking the solitude of a wilderness excursion. Several days could be spent exploring the Archuleta Creek Valley.

Adequate parking is available at the camping area. From here the Chama River must be forded. This can sometimes be difficult because of the spring runoff. Water is available from Archuleta Creek or from its numerous tributary streams.

Directions from Chama, New Mexico: Approximately 7.0 miles north on Highway 17, take the Chama River Road to the north. This road passes through 6 miles of private property before reaching the Rio Grande National Forest boundary. At the forest boundary, is the Chama River Camping Area. Take the left fork of the road down to the river and camping area. The Archuleta Trailhead is located on the west side of the Chama River, opposite the camping area.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Open: May through September .

Current Conditions & Trip Reports
Typical spring conditions indicate you can expect to encounter snow above 10,000 feet. Updated: 2000-05-09 10:29:00.0

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Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
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Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Backpacking Chama River
ICON Cold Water Fishing Fishing on Archuleta Creek is an experience that will long be remembered.
ICON Hiking & Walking Archuleta Trail
ICON Horseback Riding Easy grade and access
ICON Mountain Biking Easy grade and access
ICON Viewing Scenery Continental Divide
ICON Viewing Wildlife Many birds and mammals

Related Activities
Big Meadows Campground - Attractions include fishing at Big Meadows Reservoir and in the South Fork of the Rio Grande, access to the Weminuche Wilderness via the Archuleta Creek Trail 839, visiting Cascade Falls.

Chama River Trail - The trail follows the Chama River to the confluence of the West and East Forks, where a splendid view of upper Chama Basin is afforded. The terrain is gentle and scenic, offering an easy day hike.

Gibbs Trail - This trail follows a portion of the eastern boundary of the Weminuche Wilderness and has not been maintained for years.

Juniper Group Site - This site has a 20 car parking area and drinking water is provided through a hydrant. There is also open space available for informal games. Firewood is not provided.

South Fork Trail (Divide Ranger District) - This trail is entirely within the Weminuche Wilderness and the main attractions are the Continental Divide and Spruce Lakes.

West Chama Trail - The West Chama Trail provides access to upper Chama Basin, an area of virgin spruce-fir forests surrounding steep and colorful volcanic cliffs. Waterfalls tumbling over the cliffs can be seen from almost any vantage point.

More Information
Frequently Asked Questions
Email the Local Ranger

Visitor Information:

Conejos Peak Ranger Station, 15571 County Road T-5, P.O. Box 420 , La Jara, CO, 81140, Phone: 719-274-8971, TTY: 719-274-3139


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