Special Places

The Pike and San Isabel National Forests and Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands are filled with special places. This page highlights places that have official designations, have cultural or historical significance or that we think are scenic and unique. Go. Discover special places of your own – It’s all yours.


Wilderness Areas

Creek in the grass within Lost Creek Wilderness

With the Wilderness Act of 1964, Congress created a system to preserve the nation’s most wild, natural and undisturbed landscapes. Designated Wilderness areas help protect critical wildlife habitat and natural resources for future generations. Wilderness areas may also provide opportunities to experience challenge and adventure or solitude. Regulations are in place to maintain the primitive character of these special places. Know before you go.

The Pike and San Isabel National Forests manage nine Wilderness areas: Buffalo Peaks Wilderness, Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, Greenhorn Mountains Wilderness, Holy Cross Wilderness, Lost Creek Wilderness, Mount Evans Wilderness, Mount Massive Wilderness, Sangre De Cristo Wilderness, Spanish Peaks Wilderness


Highlighted Areas

Davenport Campground

Davenport Campground was one of the first Forest Service campgrounds in the country. It was designed by Arthur Carhart, the first landscape architect of the Forest Service. Prior to Carhart being hired in 1919, the agency focused primarily on timber uses of the forest. Around that time, working people were looking for an escape from the steel mills and coal camps, and automobiles were newly affordable.  Davenport campground has been rebuilt to evoke the historic character including a few Adirondack shelters, a common cooking shelter with stone fireplaces, and old-style log picnic tables.

This tent-only campground sits alongside Squirrel Creek in a grassy meadow surrounded by aspen and spruce trees at an elevation of 8,500 feet. The site offers access to hiking, mountain biking, motorcycle and off-road vehicle trails.

Carrizo Auto Tour Interpretive Site

Informational kiosks for this self-guided, 180-mile tour highlights many points of interest, scenery, and amenities found on the Carrizo Unit including the Granada-Fort Union military road, Carrizo and Picture canyons, and the Aubry cutoff of the Santa Fe Trail. Roads are good when dry, but use caution if wet.

Frontier Pathways National Scenic Byway

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

Picket Wire Canyonlands

Picket Wire Canyonlands

These primitive canyons in the Comanche National Grasslands are home to the largest dinosaur tracksite in North America. Over 1,900 prints in 130 separate trackways extend across a quarter mile of bedrock along the banks of the Purgatoire River.


The round trip hike to the dinosaur tracks is 11.2 miles, starting at the Withers Canyon Trailhead. From the trailhead, descend 250 feet into the canyons. Pass several points of interest including the Dolores Mission and Cemetery. Continue beyond the paleontological area to the Rourke Ranch National Historic District (approximately 17 miles round trip). Because of the rugged terrain and long distances to various sites, hikers, bikers and equestrians need to plan for extreme heat. Leave early and carry at least one galllon of water per person.


Picket Wire Guided Auto Tours: The auto tour is the only authorized motorized access into Picket Wire Canyonlands. Knowledgeable guides will share difficult-to-find dinosaur tracks and rock art as well as interesting prehistoric and historic stories. Tour participants need their own four-wheel drive, high clearance vehicles (trucks or SUVs, no all-wheel drive cars or ATVs). The tour is all day, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and offered on Saturdays in May, June, September, and October. Reservations are required. Visit www.recreation.gov or call 1-877-444 6777.