Mt Evans in Colorado.

Peaks to Prairies - Tracks to Trails

Pike and San Isabel National Forests & Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands (forest locator map) cover nearly 3 million acres, between the prairies of western Kansas and some of Colorado's highest mountain peaks along the Continental Divide. These sprawling forests and grasslands are an eight hour drive from boundary to boundary. This landscape offers a variety of ecosystems rich in history, geology, scenery, wildlife habitat and recreation opportunities.

The rolling prairies to the east are home to prairie chickens, wildflowers, paleontological resources and historical areas. The snow-capped Rockies to the west are a scenic backdrop to millions of residents and a draw to forest visitors. The forests are home to over half of Colorado's fourteeners with numerous alpine lakes, reservoirs and key rivers. Over 1 million acres of Wilderness, the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, Colorado Trail, and Santa Fe National Historic Trail are special areas worth exploring. 

People who live near these areas maintain a strong relationship to the lands. The commitment and volunteerism that these community members have for these public lands is the foundation for our ability to maintain a quality, sustainable recreation program in the face of intense, and growing, urban demand.

2015 campground opening and closing dates (.pdf)

Critical Information about the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or “drones” are increasing in popularity and can provide wonderful opportunities to explore the forest. Please be aware that these drones are regulated and must follow certain laws to be safe and legal. 

Recreation Conditions Report

 Area Name Status Area Conditions
Agnes Vaille Falls Trail Closed to Visitor CLOSED to ensure public health and safety after a large rockslide event.
Devil's Head Campground Open to Visitor
Oak Creek Campground   
Waldo Canyon Loop Trail #640 Closed to Visitor Closed due to Waldo Canyon Fire; no re-opening date has been established yet.


Ski Cooper Alpine Ski Area

Skiing Cooper

Ski Cooper, located atop Tennessee Pass 10 miles north of Leadville on U.S. 24, is a unique and affordable alpine ski area for the whole family. Five lifts serve 26 runs on 400 acres with slightly more intermediate than beginner or expert terrain. The longest run is 1.4 miles. The base sits at an elevation of 10,500 feet, with the summit at 11,700 feet. Ski Cooper averages 250 inches of natural snowfall a year and hosts a variety of fun-filled events throughout the winter season.

Ski Cooper also includes a terrain park with seven different features, short lift lines and a variety of runs. The base facilities include the Ski and Snowboard School which offers alpine, telemark and snowboard instruction; a day lodge with guest services, ticket offices, first-aid room, restaurant and bar; a ski rental shop; the Children's Center, featuring a children's ski school, rental equipment and day care for children ages 2-8; the Tennessee Pass Nordic Center with rental equipment for cross-country skiing, telemarking, and snowshoeing, and the Tennessee Pass Cookhouse.

Ski Cooper Stats:

  • Vertical drop: 1,200 feet;
  • Acres: 400;
  • 2,400 acres of snowcat skiing on Chicago Ridge;
  • Lifts: 5- 1 double, 1 triple, 3 surface lifts;
  • 26 runs: 30% beginner, 40% intermediate, 30% advanced; 
  • Annual Snowfall: 250 inches.

Picket Wire Canyonlands Auto Tour Dates

Picket Wire Canyon

The dinosaur tracksite is located in Picket Wire Canyon on the banks of the Purgatoire River in southeast Colorado.  The tracksite is the largest documented assemblage of trackways in North America. Over 1500 prints in 100 separate trackways extend across a quarter mile expanse of bedrock.

  • What did cowboys think of these trackways?
  • How did a young school girl reveal these tracks to the world?
  • Why did the rock layer with the tracks, crack so uniformly?

For a unique and unforgettable family experience tour Picket Wire Canyonlands with a guide who will answer all these questions and more! This auto tour is the only motorized access into Picket Wire Canyon.

If you need additional information about the tours please call the Comanche National Grassland office in La Junta at 719-384-2181.

Click here to learn more about the geology of the Comanche National Grasslands. [5 pages; PDF 1.3 MB]

Frontier Pathways

A scenic drive through the Wet Mountains of the San Isabel National Forest.  For more information visit .