San Juan Public Lands
San Juan Public Lands abound with natural and cultural treasures. Five distinct life zones range from elevations near 5,000 feet to above 14,000 feet. Several of Colorado’s famous “14’ers” can be found in the Weminuche and Lizard Head Wilderness Areas. The San Juan also includes the South San Juan Wilderness Area.
Cultural resources run the gamut from historic mining ghost towns and mills to Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings and pit houses. Some heritage sites offer guided tours; others are unmarked treasures you may happen across in the backcountry.
Chimney Rock is a San Juan National Forest Archaeological Area located in Colorado between Durango and Pagosa Springs and managed for archaeological protection, public interpretation, and education.
The Dolores Public Lands Office manages the Spring Creek Basin Wild Horse Herd Management Area. The principal emphasis is on maintaining a healthy, viable population of wild horses that exist in natural ecological balance with other resources.
According to local lore, the horses are descendents of those brought to the Disappointment Creek area in the late 1800s by a horse rancher from Montana. The legend indicates he had to leave in a hurry, just ahead of the law, and some of his horses were left behind. DNA and blood testing have indicated that Thoroughbred and Morgan are the primary breed influences in this herd.
If you are headed to the San Juan in the fall, make sure you check out its Weekly Fall Color Report before you go.