Resource Management

Water Connects Us All

Water Home Your Watersheds Caring for Water Make a Difference Water Community




Water is essential to all life. Water flows across continents, over mountain ranges, under deserts, between countries and all through the land, our communities, and even through us. In this way, water connects us. 

All life on the planet depends on water in its many forms. Humans, in particular, need fresh drinkable water to live. But just a tiny fraction of water on the globe is clean and fresh enough for us to drink.

‚ÄčThe amount of water on the planet is limited. So, although water moves around the globe through rain and snow, rivers and streams, the total amount of available water does not change.

Fresh water is precious. And it’s becoming more so due to a number of factors: a growing world population and the associated development, inadequate water sanitation, and water pollution. Changing global patterns of drought and flooding add to the pressure on freshwater supplies, which affects all of us.

Places that supply fresh water are becoming more and more important, both to our local community and to the country. 

The San Juan National Forest is one of these places.  


The San Juan National Forest captures, cleanses, and stores our water.


The San Juan Mountains, called the “shining mountains” by the Ute Indians for their snow-capped peaks, were created as two enormous continental plates slammed into one another, folding and faulting the earth’s crust. Volcanic activity associated with the tectonic mountain-building process produced rich mineral veins—the silver and gold deposits that drew miners to the region in the late 1800s.

The San Juan Mountains contain some of the highest and most rugged summits in the continental United States, with 28 peaks above 13,000 feet and 13 "fourteeners.” Glaciers carved the range’s steep mountainsides and U-shaped canyons, such as the beautiful valley in the East Fork of Hermosa Creek. 

At 1,878,846 acres, the San Juan National Forest covers most of the southern portion of the San Juan Mountains west of the Continental Divide. The forest contains four wilderness areas: Weminuche, Lizard Head, Hermosa and South San Juan, as well as the Piedra Area.