SAN JUAN NATIONAL FOREST
In the sprawling meadows of the San Juan Mountains, and surrounding the rustic little town of Durango lies the San Juan National Forest, covering nearly 1.8 million acres. Set up in 1934, and bordering the Uncompahgre National Forest to the north, and the Rio Grande National Forest to the east, it is home to breathtaking alpine lakes, fields, waterfalls and spectacular canyons. The forest consists of two alpine wilderness areas: the Weminuche and South San Juan, and the Piedra Region. The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad passes through the scenic by-ways of the Forest.
tripgrounds and rustic picnic sites are located throughout the forest, with numerous recreational facilities being professionally provided, such as fishing in the many creeks and rivers, triping under the Colorado stars, hiking along willows and meadows in the pure mountain air, as well as mountain biking along trails to tingle one’s adventurous spirits.
One can paddle through the river of Lost Souls, which has rafting for advanced users as well as adequate areas to keep amateurs and intermediate swimmers happy. The Forest has 39 different tripgrounds, like the Navajo Trail tripground that is located near hot springs, and the Transfer Park, an 11acre meadow situated in a beautiful aspen grove, to attract tripers. The intermediate skiers can sashay down the powder slopes of the Purgatory Ski Area, which is well known for its slopes as well as lots of sun, while the advanced skiers should cascade down the slopes at Wolf Creek Ski Area that has a summit elevation of 11,000 feet.
With mountain bike trails that originate on the humble foothills of the La Plata mountains located west of Durango and go up to mountains with elevations of more than 7,000 feet, this is a bikers paradise. Numerous biking tours are available given the number of trails that exist here, such as the Jersey Jim Loop, North Fork and Chicken Creek Road Loop. Hikers can make use of over 500 miles of trails weaving their way through the forest, penetrating deep into the wilderness. Despite the popularity of hiking, the area retains its purity and mystic charm.
The flora and fauna of the forest is diverse and vibrant, and armed only with a pair of binoculars, one can spot many varieties of birds like blue grouse, bald eagle, gray jay, and falcons, as well as larger animals like elks, mule deer and bighorn sheep. Fishing can be done in mountain lakes like Emerald and Fourmile, reservoirs like McPhee and Vallecito, and creeks like Weminuche Creek, which are abundant in different varieties of trout. There is also the Chimney Rock Archeological Area, which used to be home for the ancestors of the modern Pueblo Indians. Several homes and ceremonial sites have been found above the valley floor, near the sacred Twin Rock Pinnacles, which makes for a very interesting trip.
Indeed, the San Juan National Forest is one place that is a must-visit for all those who love travelling or even those who just wish to rewind and rejuvenate in the crisp mountain air!
MOUNTAIN BIKING TRIPS
- available as custom trip for 5 or more – click here to email
- level: upper-intermediate, advanced
- ages: all (call for under 18)
- group size: varies
"After 9 years of guided mountain bike trips in North America, your Durango trip had the best trails!!!!"David Sawyer, 2008
"'trip Ned' in Durango was stupendous. Lodging, food, choice of trails and individual guidance on bike set-up, techniques and gear were all excellent. Nate inspired me through some killer climbs. Matt's no slouch on the trails, and also performed some dutch oven wizardry in the kitchen. Big Mike’s tour of Hermosa Creek drainage was epic. Thanks guys- I'm getting a gang together and picking a place to join up again in '09!"Tom Kammerer, 2008
"I thoroughly enjoyed my Hermosa Creek Guided tour! My guide, Matt, was professional and personable: offering great cycling conversation, guidance, and food for thought. He took care of everything so all I had to do was just show up and ride! His experience and knowledge of the CO trails made me feel confident and the ride was truly a treasured experience. Most of all, I had the absolute best time and I loved every nanosecond of it! Thank you !"Julie Urlaub, 2008
"The guys on my trip inspired confidence amongst our group every step of the way. Be it on the trail, shuttling to the trailhead, or arranging logistics in advance they kept things running smoothly and seemingly effortlessly. They accommodated us every step of the way and kept it fun and flexible. Of course, the best part was their ability to provide the epic mountain bike experience. We left Durango pleasantly worked over, dusty, and smiling ear-to-ear. Now if they’d only get on the right brand of bike…"Travis Ott, Gary Fisher Bikes, 2008
"Super job you guys do, better than any other tour/group ride I have been on, either in the US or Europe. I especially appreciate the little things that make the stay more pleasant without the client having to ask for them. (the trail map and the gorp selection for instance, nice touches)."Sam Joseph, 2008