About the Forest

Fall in the San Juans

On June 3, 1905, Teddy Roosevelt signed a Presidential Proclamation creating almost two million acres of National Forest in southwestern Colorado. Known by different names over the past century, including the Montezuma National Forest and Durango National Forest, this federal land is now the San Juan National Forest. 

Today the San Juan National Forest encompasses about 1.8 million acres in the southwestern corner of Colorado. Terrain ranges from high-desert mesas to alpine peaks, with thousands of miles of back roads and hundreds of miles of trails to explore. Visitors can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities including hiking, mountain biking, hunting, fishing, alpine and nordic skiing, horseback riding, and camping. 

The area features a National Forest Scenic Byway, the San Juan Skyway and a Bureau of Land Management 4WD Scenic Byway, the Alpine Loop Backcountry Byway. The San Juan National Forest shares management of three designated Wilderness areas including, Weminuche Wilderness, Lizard Head Wilderness and South San Juan Wilderness.

These federal lands are managed for multiple uses; visitors are asked to respect each other and the natural resources.

History of the San Juan National Forest

Ranger and horse with young workers nearby in hatsAn early San Juan Ranger spent most of his time keeping an eye on livestock grazing. He drew up boundaries and made sure ranchers kept their stock within their allotted areas; kept the peace between sheep and cattle operations; cleared stock driveways, secured permission for herds to cross private land, and helped ranchers when their sheep suffered foot rot or their cattle were poisoned by larkspur. Learn more about forest history

Employment Information

Draw Fire 2Interested in working for us? We are an organization of people engaged in hundreds of occupations including foresters, biologists, fire fighters, accountants, computer specialists, law enforcement officers, public affairs specialists, engineers, recreation specialists, teachers, geographic information specialists, and more. Learn more about employment with the Forest Service.