San Carlos Ranger District

Map of the District

Fall colors of yellow and light green create a tunnel over a forest road.

A fall day on the San Carlos Ranger District.  Photo by Gregg Goodland.


3028 East Main Street
Canon City, CO 81212
Phone (719) 269-8500

Monday - Friday

The 2019 Arkansas River Birdwalk is on Friday, May 3rd. More information.

Special Notices:

Land Base:

San Carlos Ranger District manages the southern half of the San Isabel National Forest.  The District is 50 miles wide and 110 miles long with about 400,000 acres of National Forest in Fremont, Custer, Huerfano, Pueblo, Las Animas and Costilla counties.  Mountain ranges are: Wet Mountains, Sangre de Cristo’s and the Spanish Peaks.


The Sangre de Cristo and Greenhorn Wilderness areas were both designated as such in August of 1993.  Most of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range (226,455 acres) is designated Wilderness.  The Greenhorn Wilderness Area is 22,000 acres and is located in the Wet mountain range.  The Spanish Peaks (18,000 acres), is now a designated Wilderness Area.  The Spanish Peaks have also been designated as a National Landmark.


There are 11 campgrounds with 210 fee campsites plus 2 group sites which are reservation only.  Out of the 11 campgrounds we have 10 that are operated by concessionaire (contractors hired by the U.S.F.S.). 

Picnic Areas:

There is 1 picnic area at Lake Isabel Recreational Area and 4 small sites in the Cuchara Creek recreational Area.


As part of our National Scenic Byway System, we have two highways to recommend:

  • The highway of Legends (Highway 12 from Trinidad to Walsenburg). 

  • Frontier Pathways (Highway 96 from Pueblo to Westcliffe and Highway  off of 165 to Lake Isabel and Rye).

Winter Recreation: 

There are snowmobile clubs, who maintain 55 miles of groomed trails and 22 miles of groomed routes for the San Carlos Ranger district.  

Fuelwood Restrictions:

Fuelwood Information and Permits may be purchased at Forest Service offices in Canon City, Pueblo, LaVeta, or Westcliffe. Permits are available between January 15 and December, 15.


The district has an average of 15 fires per year, affecting approximately 30 acres per season, (this does not include prescribed fires).

Interesting photos from the lightning caused Medano Fire (June 2010)

Interesting photos from the lightning caused Johnson Gulch Fire(August/September 2009).

Click here for prescribed fire information on the San Carlos Ranger District

Volunteer Programs:  

In past years, there have been sometimes more than 13,500 hours donated by groups and individuals, in just one season!  These volunteer programs include: Search and Rescue, Volunteer Fire Fighters, Campground and Facility maintenance, Trail Maintenance and Reconstruction, Wildlife and Fisheries, Botany, Fencing, Snowmobile and Ski trail Signing and Trash Removal.