Recreation

Twin Lakes

Peaks to Prairies - Tracks to Trails

The Pike and San Isabel National Forests & Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands cover nearly 3 million acres, between the prairies of western Kansas and some of Colorado's highest mountain peaks along the Continental Divide. This landscape showcases a variety of ecosystems rich in history, geology, scenery, wildlife and recreation opportunities in three distinct social settings - from highly social to solitude. People choose to live in nearby communities because of their love for the outdoors and their strong sense of attachment to the forests and grasslands. Their sense of commitment and volunteerism are the foundations for maintaining a quality, sustainable recreation program in the face of intense and growing urban demand.

These sprawling forests and grasslands are an eight hour drive from boundary to boundary. 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 specially designated areas worth exploring.

Please Note: We recently changed the format of our website as part of a service-wide initiative. As a result of this transition, some pages may still be missing information. We apologize for any inconvenience. Please be assured we are working diligently to fix any problems. Thank you for your patience.

CLICK HERE FOR CAMPGROUND OPENING UPDATES

Recreation Conditions Report

 Area Name Status Area Conditions
Agnes Vaille Falls Trail Closed to Visitor
Cimarron Campground Open to Visitor Campground is open.
Lesser Prairie Chicken Viewing Area Closed to Visitor Comanche - Blind is temporarily closed.
Lesser Prairie Chicken Viewing Areas Open to Visitor Cimarron - Both blinds are open.
Meadow Ridge Campground Open to Visitor
Picket Wire Canyonlands Auto Tour Dates Open to Visitor Comanche - Tours are full on Sept. 15, 2012 and Oct. 13, 2012. Tours on Sept. 1, 8, 22, 29 and Oct. 6 and 20 are still available.
Promontory Picnic Area Open to Visitor
Rainbow Gulch Trail #714 Open to Visitor Lightning is common in the summer, so start the hike early. Be prepared for changing weather condions.
Rampart Reservoir Recreation Area Open to Visitor Campground is open. Motorized boating will be allowed beginning 05/22. Motorized boat inspections and launching Thursdays-Sundays.
Springdale Campground Open to Visitor
Thunder Ridge Campground Open to Visitor Open through Labor Day weekend
Waldo Canyon Loop Trail #640 Closed to Visitor Closed due to Waldo Canyon Fire; no re-opening date has been established yet.

Spotlights

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 1400 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 www.frontierpathways.org .