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Saguache Ranger District


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General Information

Crestone Needles - 8.95
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Crestone Needles - 8.95
Description - The Saguache Ranger District is the smallest district in the Rio Grande National Forest, but it is packed with numerous attractions and recreational opportunities.The area encompasses the northwestern Sangre De Cristo Mountain range. This is Colorado's steepest range, rising nearly 7,000 feet above the San Luis Valley. Included in the district is the northwestern portion of the Sangre De Cristo Wilderness and the northern portion of the La Garita Wilderness.

Ghost towns abound in the West and the Saguache Ranger District is no exception. Bonanza was a silver mining boom town between 1880 and 1888. It lies on the western flanks of Hayden Peak in the northern part of the district. Hayden Pass is a 10,700 foot pass that was a toll road in the 1880s, that links the northern part of the San Luis Valley to the Arkansas River Valley. It also was used for mining purposes.

Medano Pass was used by Zebulon Pike as his party crossed into Spanish Territory in January of 1807 while exploring the Louisiana Territory. The west end of the pass starts at the Sand Dunes National Monument. Mosca Pass was also used during the early surveys of the West. John Charles Fremont and his party crossed Mosca Pass on December 3, 1848 while searching for a transcontinental railroad route.

Attractions - The area encompasses the northwestern Sangre De Cristo Mountain range. This is Colorado's steepest range, rising nearly 7,000 feet above the San Luis Valley. Included in the district is the northwestern portion of the Sangre De Cristo Wilderness and the northern portion of the La Garita Wilderness.

Ghost towns abound in the West and the Saguache Ranger District is no exception. Bonanza was a silver mining boom town between 1880 and 1888. It lies on the western flanks of Hayden Peak in the northern part of the district. Hayden Pass is a 10,700 foot pass that was a toll road in the 1880s, that links the northern part of the San Luis Valley to the Arkansas River Valley. It also was used for mining purposes.

Medano Pass was used by Zebulon Pike as his party crossed into Spanish Territory in January of 1807 while exploring the Louisiana Territory. The west end of the pass starts at the Sand Dunes National Monument. Mosca Pass was also used during the early surveys of the West. John Charles Fremont and his party crossed Mosca Pass on December 3, 1848 while searching for a transcontinental railroad route.

Recreation - Recreation opportunities on the Saguache Ranger District are plentiful. Backpacking, hiking and horseback riding opportunities may be found in the La Garita and Sangre De Cristo Wilderness Areas. Excellent fishing can be found on the numerous mountain lakes and streams of the region. Camping, in dispersed and developed sites, is a popular activity especially during the summer months and hunting seasons.

Climate - Mountainous terrain influences the climate visitors find in the Saguache Ranger District. Elevations range from 7,500 feet to over 14,000 feet at the top of several mountain peaks. In general, the climate at low elevations is cool and arid while the high country is cold and humid. Average precipitation varies from under eight inches at the 8,000 foot level to over 50 inches in some alpine areas. Snowfall varies significantly in the Forest. North Cochetopa Pass commonly receives two feet of snow in a year when Wolf Creek receives six to eight feet.

Summer is short and frost may occur anytime in high elevations. Annual temperature extremes range from 90 degrees in summer to 30 degrees below zero in winter. Rapid weather changes, with temperature changes of 40 degrees in periods as short as four to six hours, occur frequently.

Location - Saguache Ranger District is divided by U.S. Highway 285. The eastern portion contains the Sangre De Cristo Mountain Range and can be accessed from a few spots on U.S. Highway 285. This region also abuts with the San Carlos Ranger District in the San Isabel National Forest and many of the trails join each other along the ridge line. The main access point for the western portion of the ranger district is Highway 114.


Current Conditions & Trip Reports
Ranger Tip: Boil water from any mountain water source for 5 minutes before drinking due to Giardia that may be present.

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: Mike Rothenberger (Sour Lake, Texas)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Went in Nov. 2002.. Had 1.5' snow.. bring your tire chains for all 4 wheels. I tried to climb some roads in Jeep wrangler with chains on front only, but after 3 days of snow, had to drive to Saguache to some tire place to buy another set.. pricey, but great chains.


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Contact Information:
Saguache Ranger Station, 46525 Colorado Highway 114, P.O. Box 67 , Saguache, CO, 81149, Phone: 719-655-2553, TTY: 719-655-2547

Additional Information:
Alamosa Area - Alamosa is the center from which almost any outdoor activity imaginable is possible, including summer skiing on the dunes in The Great Sand Dunes National Monument.
Creede Area - Creede is a colorful and historic mining town located on the Silver Thread National Scenic Byway. It is well-known for its repertory theater and is the beginning point of the Bachelor Historic Loop Tour.
Del Norte Area - Del Norte lies at the intersection of State Highway 112 and U.S. Highway 160. The primary force behind the economy is agriculture and recreation.
Rio Grande National Forest - The 1,852,000 acre Rio Grande National Forest offers every visitor an area packed with recreation opportunities, incredible beauty and breathtaking adventure.
South Fork Area - South Fork is located at the junction of the Rio Grande River and its south fork. Where Highway 160 and 149 meet in the center of town, you will find the beginning of Colorado's historic Silver Thread Scenic Byway.

Links:
Above Timberline - THE SANGRES: A FIELD GUIDE

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