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Rio Grande National Forest

The Rio Grande National Forest is 1.86 million acres located in southwestern Colorado and remains one of the true undiscovered jewels of Colorado.

The Continental Divide runs for 236 miles along most of the western border of the Forest. The Rio Grande National Forest presents a myriad of ecosystems: from the alpine desert (7600-ft.) to the majestic Sangre de Cristo Wilderness (14,300-ft.) on the eastern side.

The Forest embraces the San Luis Valley, the largest agricultural alpine valley in the world and includes all or parts of four Wilderness Areas: South San Juan, Weminuche, La Garita and Sangre de Cristo.

The Forest is the headwaters of the Rio Grande River and has the moonscape wonder of the Wheeler Geologic Area.

Whether walking, driving or riding, this Forest has something for everyone. For the outdoor enthusiast, it has recreation and adventure opportunities for the heartiest of souls. Others can enjoy the backcountry from the Cumbres & Toltec Narrow Gauge Railroad, which runs from Antonito, Colorado across the Forest to Chama, New Mexico.

An extensive trail system awaits the hiker, Off-Highway Vehicle rider, mountain biker, hunter, and equestrian. Round out your experience by staying in one of the manycampgrounds.

Skiing, whether downhill or cross-country, is one of the premiere snow activities on this Forest during the cold months of winter and into the warmer months of spring. For the downhill skier, Wolf Creek Ski Area presents the local challenge.

A permittee of the Rio Grande, Wolf Creek is well known for the quality and quantity of snow it receives annually, as well as its incredible terrain and lack of pesky lift lines.

If "skinny skis" are your thing, the Forest offers some of the finest backcountry skiing found anywhere. Forest roads are transformed into ski and snowmobile trails in the winter months, and offer the outdoor enthusiast outstanding access to pristine country. Though there are a number of outstanding areas for cross-country skiing, it will take some investigating on your part to find a favorite. Try the loop trail in Rock Creek for starters.

Come explore historic sites that remain from the time when Anasazi people visited this area.

First-timer’s Adventure

The Adams Fork Trail # 713 is a relatively easy trail, which provides access to the South San Juan Wilderness only 1.5 miles from the trailhead. A hiker has views of Platoro Reservoir and Adams Fork Creek as it cuts its way through a glacier valley to the Continental Divide.

The trail is a short distance from the creek as it winds around side canyon, through Engelmann spruce and alpine fir forests. The trail continues to climb until it turns west. At this point, a hiker has a view of the Continental Divide with Summit Peak to the north.

Statistics

State(s):

Colorado

Nearest Large Urban Area:
Denver, Albuquerque
Notes & Conditions:

Research campground locations and amenities at the U.S. National Forest Campground Directory. The Web site is full of pictures and detailed descriptions to help you plan your next trip.

If you want to experience a guided recreation trip in a National Forest, visit Adventure Vacation to learn about whitewater rafting, canoeing, kayaking, horseback riding, camping, hiking and fishing trips.

Maps:

Visit the National Forest Store to see what maps are available for this Forest and others you may want to visit.