Waterfalls at Jackwhacker Gulch on Forest Service Road 119, off of Guanella Pass Road. The water, from the falls and surrounding area, is flowing very fast right now due to the melting of the snow from the mountains above. Photo by Nicholas Barta.
19316 Goddard Ranch Court
Morrison, CO 80465
Office hours: Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., MT excluding Federal holidays
What's happening on the District?
The South Platte Ranger District is part of the Pike & San Isabel National Forests and Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands. It is located east of the Continental Divide in the central Rocky Mountains and lies adjacent to the Denver Metro area in Park, Jefferson, Douglas, Clear Creek and Teller counties. It is easily accessible from Denver, a population of over 2 million people: results in approximately 2,500,000 visits a year to the South Platte, a number that exceeds the total use on each of the 47 National Forests across the Nation. The South Platte District is 460,000 acres in size with elevations ranging from 5,800 feet in the east, to over 14,000 feet in the north.
The recreational opportunities in the South Platte District are enormous: approximately 70% of its use occurring as dispersed activities such as camping, fishing, hiking, swimming, and tubing. Some of the unique opportunities found on the South Platte include:
- 115 miles of off-highway vehicle (OHV) trails in the Rampart Range area, with a new difficult single track trail;
- 70 miles of South Platte River Recreation (visited by 700,000 people a year);
- Approximately 50 miles of mountain bike trails; and
- Two wilderness areas.
Dispersed recreation on the District represents the greatest use by the public. It also creates the greatest impacts such as law enforcement and major resource disturbance. Total use in dispersed activities is approximately one million visitor days. Examples of dispersed recreation activities include:
OHVs and ATV's
hiking and horseback riding use on 250 miles of trails
fishing in one of the most productive rivers in the U.S.
tubing, kayaking, and whitewater rafting on the North and South Forks of the South Platte River
cross-country skiing and snowmobiling
dispersed camping along the North and South Forks of the South Platte River, Geneva Creek, Jackson Creek and the Rampart Range Road
heavy 4-WD use in the western part of the District
The riparian area, including the river and streamside plants, support a variety of wildlife and biotic processes. Riparian areas are naturally suited to stabilize streambeds, filter sediment, improve water quality, and provide habitat for some of Colorado's most treasured wildlife. The quality of this resource is very sensitive to human impacts. Much of the fragile ecosystem along the banks of the river has been damaged significantly in recent years.
To protect the natural beauty of the area, the U.S. Forest Service has joined efforts with other agencies. Partnerships with Denver Water, Douglas and Jefferson County Public Works, the Colorado Division of Wildlife, and the Sheriff's Departments of Douglas and Jefferson Counties were formed to protect the environment and provide a quality recreational experience for all visitors to the South Platte River Corridor.
Given the statistics, it is easy to see how resource damage is inevitable in the District. You can help minimize the damage by following a few simple guidelines when you use the recreations areas.
The South Platte Ranger District office is located near Morrison. The District office has numerous brochures and maps available for your use, as well as educational material for organizations and schools. Please contact our office for further information. There are three workstations in the district: (1) the AG Ranch, (2) the Buffalo Creek workcenter, and (3) the Indian Creek workcenter.
Feel free to stop by our visitor center on Highway 285 in Morrison to inquire about current conditions, find out what's going on, and get any Forest maps, Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM), or fliers you may need to enjoy your visit to our District. We carry also carry Smokey Bear and Devil's Head Lookout Tower T-shirts.