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.
Copyright: Jim Hughes - US Forest Service
Wolf Creek Pass viewed from Lobo Overlook on U.S. 160 - 9.27.91J
- 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
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.
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.