Rio Grande National Forest

The Rio Grande National Forest is a 1.86 million acre United States National Forest located in southwestern Colorado. The forest includes the San Luis Valley, which is the world’s largest agricultural alpine valley, in addition to one of the world’s largest high deserts located around mountains. The Continental Divide runs along the majority of the forest’s western border. It lies in parts of nine counties, Mineral, Conejos, Rio Grande, Saguache, Hinsdale, San Juan, Archuleta, Custer, and Alamosa counties. The forest headquarters are located in the town of Monte Vista, Colorado. There are local ranger district offices found in Del Norte, La Jara, and Saguache.

There are four officially designated wilderness areas located within the national forest that are part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. All of these partially extend into neighboring National Forests and one of these also onto National Park Service land. These wilderness areas are called Sangre de Cristo Wilderness, La Garita Wilderness, South San Juan Wilderness, and Wiminuche Wilderness.

Some of the activities that can be taken advantage of in the national forest include bicycling, camping, climbing, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, hunting, nature viewing, outdoor learning, picnicking, scenic driving and various water activities.

Image Caption: Stony Pass road. The scenery is nothing short of spectacular along this old wagon road over Stony Pass (12,588 feet), at the edge of Weminuche Wilderness. Credit: PDTillman/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)