The San Juan National Forest, near Durango, Colorado offers an opportunity to get out into the great outdoors and find solitude in the beauty of nature. Take your time exploring this park and let the unspoiled forest provide you with peace and quiet and leave you feeling rejuvenated.
Where Is The San Juan National Forest?
The San Juan National Forest is located in the southwest corner of Colorado. The area features the San Juan Skyway, a Bureau of Land Management 4WD scenic byway, Alpine Loop Backcountry Byway and a National Forest scenic byway. The forest encompasses three wilderness areas: Weminuche Wilderness, South San Juan Wilderness, and Lizard Head Wilderness, two of which are alpine wilderness areas.
History Of The San Juans
Back in 1905, Theodore Roosevelt created the San Juan National Forest by proclamation on June 3, 1905, a great move that really benefited this region of Colorado. Since then these 3000 square miles (1.8 million acres) of raw and wild beauty have been enjoyed by many people from around the world. The San Juan National Forest is also an important habitat for many creatures including foxes, bears, bighorn sheep and nearly 300 species of birds.
Things to Doin the San Juan National Forest
One of the most popular activities in the park is camping, and there are nearly 40 different campgrounds through the forest to choose from. Hiking is another activity, as there are several great trails meandering throughout the park. Whether you are looking for a short day hike or a long multi-day trek you will find a path that is ideal for you. If you are seeking a serious hiking challenge, you could head up the 14,000 foot peaks of the Needle Mountains, one of the roughest mountain ranges in the USA.
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Take In The View
Other options for fun and recreation in the San Juan National Forest include boating, biking, fishing, cross-country skiing, horseback riding and rafting. You could also go for a scenic ride on the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and admire the stunning scenery. Also, the Lower Animas River is a great place for kayaking and rafting ñ its tumultuous waters have earned it the nickname "River of Lost Souls".
The San Juan Skyway
Another great adventure in this wild and beautiful part of Colorado is to drive along the San Juan Skyway, a 233-mile loop carving through the San Juan Mountains. Wind around sheer mountain cliffs, drive through rushing rapids and see the stunning waterfalls. The drive takes approximately 5 hours, but make sure that you budget in extra time so that you can stop in some of the old west towns such as Dolores, Pacerville, Ouray and Silverton.
The San Juan National Forest is also a popular spot for fishing and there are many lakes where brook, rainbow and cutthroat trout are abundant, including Hossick, Fourmile, Rock, Flint and Emerald. If you prefer to fish with a current, thereís also the Pine River and Weminuche Creek. The San Juan Mountains are also a hotspot for mountain bikers, with many trails rising to elevations of up to 7,000 feet such as the Chicken Creek Road Loop, the North Fork and the Jersey Jim Loop.
No matter what you are into, there is so much to explore in the San Juan National Forest so get out there and enjoy the amazing great outdoors! For some beautiful imagery of the San Juan National Forest, check out NinetySeven.com's gallery.