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Colorado > San Juan National Forest
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San Juan National Forest

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Columbine Ranger District- Much of this district can be reached via US 550. Excellent fishing, mountain biking, kayaking, rock climbing and backpacking await, as does the unique Durango-Silverton Railroad.
Mancos-Dolores Ranger District- Mancos-Dolores is the western most ranger district in the San Juan National Forest and contains portions of the Mancos and Dolores Rivers. The town of Cortez and Mesa Verde National Park are located to the south of this area.
Pagosa Ranger District- This is the eastern most ranger district in the San Juan National Forest. It lies around the town of Pagosa Springs and reaches up to Wolf Creek Pass and the Continental Divide.

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General Information

Wolf Creek Pass viewed from Lobo Overlook on U.S. 160 - 9.27.91J
Copyright: Jim Hughes - US Forest Service
Wolf Creek Pass viewed from Lobo Overlook on U.S. 160 - 9.27.91J
Description - Alpine lakes, canyons, cataracts, waterfalls, unusual geologic formations, rugged and remote wilderness areas, high mountian peaks, historic mines, ruins and broad variations in elevation characterize the San Juan National Forest.

Attractions - Archeological ruins of the ancient Pueblo People are preserved at Chimney Rock. The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad takes passengers on a historic ride from Durango to Silverton through the deep, gorgeous canyon of the Animas River.

The Needle Mountains, a paradise for mountain climbers and one of the roughest ranges in the United States, lie within the Weminuche Wilderness. Three of these peaks are over 14,000 feet above sea level. Within Lizard Head Wilderness are three more peaks greater than 14,000 feet in elevation. These trails are accessible to foot and horse traffic only.

Recreation - Numerous campgrounds and picnic sites are scattered throughout the forest. Skiers are attracted to Purgatory Ski Area north of Durango. Fishing for trout in high mountain lakes, swift streams or reservoirs such as McPhee, Vallecito, Lemon and Williams Creek Lake offer the angler many challenges. Hunters stalk mule deer, elk, bear, bighorn sheep, mountain lion, grouse, turkey and ducks.

Climate - The area has short, cool summers and long, severe winters in the mountains. The lower elevations experience a more temperate winter. There are several permanent snow fields, and snow patches remain in sheltered areas throughout the summer. You should be prepared for freezing weather at all times of the year.

Location - San Juan National Forest is located in southwestern Colorado on the western slope of the Continental Divide. It covers an area from east to west of more than 120 miles and from north to south more than 60 miles, encompassing an area of 1,869,931 acres.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports
Missionary Ridge road will remain closed until at least September, 2004 for fire rehab. Updated: 2004-04-30 09:47:00.0

Ranger Tip: Check the San Juan NF Web site (there's a link to it at the bottom of this page) for current information and conditions. Or call the Supervisor's Office at (970) 247-4874. Check the San Juan Outdoor Recreation Hotline at (970) 247-8187 for more current information.

Trip Reports:
Add your own trip Report! Newly re-released feature. One of the most popular features on Wildernet, trip reports allow you to share your experiences with others. This is an invaluable resource for determining what to expect on your outdoor adventure, so please participate! To prevent spamming, you must be a registered user of Wildernet in order to submit a trip report

Filed By: Jim Ward (Albuquerque, NM)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly

Filed By: Craig Curry (Farmington, NM)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Friend and I spent the weekend up Vallecito Creek. Camped appr. 1/2 mile above 2nd Creek Bridge. Found extensive avalanche about 1/2 mile above camp. Trail is covered up with avalanche snow, debris, and down timber. Several places where piles of debris/timber force careful passing and climbing. Be careful. Avalanche affects trail from below Soda Springs up to Dead Horse Creek confluence. Snow on trail was a factor above double bridge, but was showing significant melt as we left on 5/22. River rolling high and off color in a.m. and higher and chocolate in p.m.

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Contact Information:
San Juan Mountains Association , Durango, CO, 81302, Phone: 970-385-1210, Fax: 970-385-1224

SJNF Supervisor's Office, 15 Burnett Court , Durango, CO, 81301, Phone: 970-247-4874, Fax: 970-385-1243, TTY: 970-385-1257

Additional Information:
Colorado National Forests & Parks - Colorado is well known for its National Forests and Parks which include 14,000-foot mountains, world-class ski resorts, semiarid deserts, ancient Indian ruins and wide open plains.
Southwest Region - This region lies south of the Elk Mountains and Grand Mesa and west of the Continental Divide. It includes spectacular mountains, and varied terrain that supports recreation activities of many types and all skill levels.

San Juan Mountains Association - Nonprofit organization that provides information and education about natural and cultural resources.
San Juan National Forest - Official Forest Service website.


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