The 979,687 acre Divide Ranger District is located in Rio Grande, Mineral, San Juan and Hinsdale Counties in south-central Colorado. The vast district includes the headwaters of the Rio Grande and over 100 miles the Continental Divide. The district serves the four communities of Monte Vista, Del Norte, South Fork, and Creede and is connected by US Highway 160 and Colorado State Highway 149.
The main district office is located just east of Del Norte. The district also manages a visitor center in Creede which is open from mid-April to mid-November and on Wednesdays during the rest of the year. The Divide RD is a “service first” unit and provides information and permits for both the BLM and National Forest.
The landscape is dominated by the rugged eastern portion of the San Juan Mountains and varies in elevation from 7,800 feet at the foothills to over 13,800 feet along the Continental Divide.
Highlights of the District include portions of two wilderness areas (Weminuche and La Garita), long portions of the Colorado Trail and the Continental Divide Trail, the Silverthread Scenic Byway, Wolf Creek Ski Area, Wheeler Geologic Area and the historic mining district of Creede. Jeeping and other off road vehicle (ATV, motorcycle, mountain biking) routes abound outside of the wilderness areas.
Several sites on the district were chosen to introduce Shiras moose and reintroduce Canada lynx. The district supports healthy herds of elk, deer and pronghorn, as well as many small mammals and birds common to Colorado. Great fishing can be found in many small streams, numerous lakes, reservoirs, and the Rio Grande.
Some of the higher elevations of the district receive over 400 inches of snow annually, supplying a clean water supply year around for rafting, fishing, and irrigation farming in the San Luis Valley where potatoes, grains, vegetables and hay are grown.
Twenty-one campgrounds scattered throughout this beautiful mountainous landscape provide ample camping opportunities on the Divide Ranger District.
Big Meadows, the largest campground on the forest, has 56 camping sites and sits next to Big Meadows Reservoir. The 600-acre reservoir is a no-wake lake and offers a handicap accessible fishing pier. Cascade and Archuleta hiking trails are easily accessed from the campground. The boundary to the Weminuche Wilderness is less than two miles from Big Meadows Campground.
A scenic overlook to the much photographed North Clear Creek Falls is located just off of the Silver Thread Scenic Byway. Not far away the North Clear Creek Campground provides 26 developed camping sites and offers trout fishing in the cold North Clear Creek.
Two nearby campgrounds, Silver Thread and Bristol Head, provide additional developed camping and awesome views of 12,712 foot Bristol Head Peak. The top of the tall bald topped peak is accessible by a 4x4. On a clear day at the top of Bristol Head peak, the San Luis Valley and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, over 100 miles away, can be seen.
Another cluster of campgrounds southwest of the town of South Fork offers plenty of developed camping opportunities. Campgrounds include Park Creek, Highway Springs, Upper Beaver Creek, Beaver Creek, Cross Creek, Tucker Ponds and the previously mentioned Big Meadows. Excellent fishing can be found nearby in Million Reservoir, Beaver Creek Reservoir, Metroz Lake, Tucker Ponds, Shaw Lake and Big Meadows Reservoir, as well as several creeks and the South Fork of the Rio Grande.
Currently, the Alder Guard Station is the only rental cabin on the Divide RD, but two more located along Burro Creek south of Del Norte may be available soon. Alder Guard Station is conveniently located two miles north of South Fork and nestled between two ridges of the San Juan Mountains. This picturesque cabin has electricity and a renovated kitchen and bathroom, indoor toilet, electric stove, refrigerator, dining room and kitchen table. There is a woodstove with provided wood and splitting maul. The area offers many opportunities for recreation including hiking, horse riding, scenic viewing, ATV riding and fishing. Cabins can only be rented by calling 1-877-444-6777, or online at www.recreation.gov. The Divide District Office cannot make reservations
Natural Arch, southwest of La Garita, from county road 38A turn west on forest road 660, then north on forest road 659.