Know Before You Go

Help protect our beautiful San Juan National Forest by recreating responsibility. Check out the following resources that will help you fulfill the first principle of Leave No TracePlan Ahead and Prepare.

  • First Time?

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    First time to visit the San Juan National Forest? Here's a quick summary to everything you should know to help protect the forest and promote a pleasant and rewarding outdoor recreation experiences for all visitors.


Outdoor Safety

  • Navigation: Be sure to carry a current topographical map of the area. Signing is limited to junctions of Forest Service system trails and typically does not provide mileages. You can't count on cell phone coverage in remote areas!
  • Weather: Conditions can change rapidly! Violent afternoon thunderstorms are something the San Juan Mountains are notorious for. Check for National Weather Service Alerts before your trip.
    • Start early. Storms typically hit early afternoon and can last until after dark.
    • If you are planning to be above treeline, start early to avoid exposure during afternoon thunderstorms. Check out our Lightning Safety Guidance for more information.
    • Expect and be prepared for rain, hail, snow, or biting wind at any time of the year.
    • Carry clothing and equipment which will keep you warm and dry, even when day-hiking. 
  • Altitude: Elevations range from 7,000 to 14,000 feet. Pace yourself, drink water, and eat snacks to help prevent altitude sickness. Symptoms include headache, loss of appetite, and weakness or drowsiness. If affected, descend quickly. If symptoms persist, seek medical aid.
  • Hazard Trees: Much of the Weminuche Wilderness has been affected by a large outbreak of spruce beetles, which have killed the majority of mature spruce trees. Recent fires have also weakened the trees.
    As a result, visitors must use extra caution when traveling and camping in the vicinity of dead or dying trees. Always be aware of your surroundings!
  • High Water: During spring snow melt, expect high, fast water. Water levels may rise dangerously with warm weather or after thunderstorms. Use caution when crossing streams or delay crossing until water levels drop.
  • Always treat water found along the trail if you decide to drink it.
  • Bring the ten essentials.
  • AvalanchesColorado Avalanche Information Center  
  • Respect Wildlife: We share the outdoors with a variety of animals who make the forest their home. Remember, these are not pets. Keep a safe distance from them and be careful not to disturb their habitat. 



Advanced Reservations for campgrounds can be made, where available, at or call toll-free 877-444-6777; TDD 877-833-6777

Campground Guide Icon

San Juan National Forest Campground Guide: campground maps, descriptions, amenities and regulations.

Campground Status

Current Campground Status Page: Information on which campgrounds are open/closed

Current Road Status by District

Maps & Apps

Detailed maps are highly recommended for your visit particularly for wilderness or backcountry travel. Visit one of our offices to find a map or buy maps online at the National Forest Store or at San Juan Mountains Association online bookstore.

Motorists: View Motor Vehicle Use Maps to see what routes are open by season and travel type. Motorized users are responsible for knowing where they can and can't take a motorized vehicle. 

A variety of mobile friendly maps and publications are also available for purchase and download for use with the Avenza app on your mobile device. 

App: Learn more & tour the forest via our OnCell App .

Passes and Permits

View all recreation passes available for purchase and a description of when and where they are required. 

Review forest product permit information to find out about berry picking, mushroom hunting, holiday trees & more.

Special use permits may be required for activities such as: recreation events, outfitter guides, filming, research studies and more.


Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is prohibited in designated Wilderness. This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters. Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), or drones, are considered to be "mechanized” equipment and may not take off, land or be operated within designated Wilderness.

Make sure you check all rules and regulations for the specific Wilderness in which you want to visit.

To learn more about Leave No Trace ethics visit