South Platte Ranger District

A beautiful wintery scene near Tumbling River Ranch
19316 Goddard Ranch Court
Morrison, CO 80465
Phone: 303-275-5610
Fax: 303-275-5642
Office hours: Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., MT excluding Federal holidays.


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 proximity to Denver, with 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 (net) 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 with 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 motorcycle trails in the Rampart Range area, 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 RVD's.  Examples of dispersed recreation activities include:

  • off-road motorcyclists and ATV's

  • hiking, 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 work stations in the district: the AG Ranch, the Buffalo Creek work center, and the Indian Creek work center.

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 maps or books that you may need to enjoy your visit to our District. We carry a large selection of books, maps, and other items from the Rocky Mountain Nature Association, as well as Devil's Head Lookout and Smokey Bear T-shirts.



A view of Devil's Head Lookout Fire Tower

South Platte Ranger Station

South Platte Ranger Station