- The Rio Grande National Forest provides access to countless developed and natural attractions. The forest includes the rugged and jagged peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range and the forested table lands and glacial canyons of the San Juan Mountains. Within these areas high lakes and alpine streams, create livable habitat for wildlife of all sizes. Also in these forested areas are trails, campgrounds, picnic grounds, four-wheel drive roads and scenic highways to interest visitors from all walks of life.
Winter on the Rio Grande National Forest
Recreation - Recreation opportunities within the Rio Grande National Forest are countless. Visitors can enjoy easy access to hiking, mountain biking, road biking, camping, picnicking, four-wheel driving, motorcycling and horseback riding. Recreation opportunities don't diminish during the winter season. Many visitors enjoy downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and backcountry touring.
Climate - Mountainous terrain influences the climate visitors find in the Rio Grande National Forest. 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.
The 1,852,000 acre Rio Grande National Forest is on the eastern slope of the Continental Divide in southern Colorado. Alamosa is its eastern gateway, Creede is in the heart of the Forest. The U.S. Highways servicing the Rio Grande are 285 and 160. State Highway 149 takes you to Creede and over Spring Creek Pass to Lake City. The major drainages on the forest include the Rio Grande, Alamosa River and Conejos River.