Special Places

 The San Juan National Forest abounds with natural and cultural treasures. Five distinct life zones range from elevations near 5,000 feet to above 14,000 feet.


Chicago BasinSeveral of Colorado’s famous “14’ers” can be found in the Weminuche and Lizard Head Wilderness areas. The San Juan also includes the South San Juan Wilderness and the newly designated Hermosa Wilderness.

Scenic Byways

Photo of lake and mountains.Beautiful scenic byways provide opportunities to view the area.

Historic Sites

Chimney Rock ViewCultural resources run the gamut from historic mining ghost towns and mills to Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings and pit houses. Some heritage sites offer guided tours; others are unmarked treasures you may happen across in the backcountry.

Highlighted Areas

Hermosa Wilderness

The Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection legislation, passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama in December, 2014, created both the Hermosa Creek Special Management Area and the adjacent 37,236-acre Hermosa Creek Wilderness.

The Hermosa Creek Watershed experienced the 54,000-acre "416 Fire" in 2018. As a result, there are burned area hazards  in the Hermosa Creek Watershed. Entry into burned areas is at your own risk. Some trails will be impassable, and hazards such as falling trees, unstable soils, and debris flows will exist. Stay on designated trails in the Hermosa; new routes must not be created when trails are impassable. Please contact the Columbine Ranger District for current information about conditions: (970) 884-2512.

The new Hermosa Creek Wilderness is very remote and rugged. It includes two system trails: Salt Creek and Clear Creek – which total approximately 14 miles. These trails are open only to travel by foot or horseback. No motorized or mechanized (bicycle) traffic is allowed within the Wilderness per the 1964 Wilderness Act.   

Mountain bike travel on the Colorado Trail is not affected by the new Hermosa Wilderness designation; however, mountain bikes will not be allowed on the trails that lead into Wilderness from the Colorado Trail, Hermosa Creek Trail, or other trails outside the Wilderness.

Within the Hermosa Wilderness boundary, Wilderness regulations are currently in effect and violators risk federal fines.