Big Meadows Campground and Picnic Area

Area Status: Open

Big Meadows is located in the San Juan Mountains in south-central Colorado, about 11 miles west of South Fork. The campground is lightly wooded with spruce trees, creating a beautiful meadow atmosphere. 

The Rio Grande National Forest spans 1.86 million acres in south-central Colorado. The Continental Divide runs for 236 miles along most of the forest's western border, presenting a myriad of ecosystems from alpine desert to dense wilderness.

Natural Features:

The campground meanders up a mountainside above Big Meadows Reservoir in a series of 3 loops. As a sub-alpine region, the campground gets more snow melt and rainfall than the opposite side of the lake, resulting in plentiful wildflowers and aspens surrounding the campsites.


An accessible fishing pier, located on the north shore of the reservoir, allows anglers to cast for rainbow, brown and brook trout. Hunting, boating and hiking are also popular pastimes. 

Hikers and horseback riders will enjoy the nearby, 6-mile Archuleta Trail. The trail accesses the Weminuche Wilderness, Colorado's largest wilderness, which boasts the headwaters of dozens of major streams and rivers that feed into the Rio Grande and San Juan rivers.


Each site has a campfire ring and picnic tables. Drinking water is available. 

The nearest dump station is 13 miles away, and a boat ramp is located on the north shore of the reservoir.

There is a picnic area adjacent to this campground.

Nearby Attractions:

The surrounding area has plenty to keep visitors busy, with attractions like Great Sand Dunes National Park, Native American ruins, the Continental Divide Trail and gold rush ghost towns. The Sangre de Cristo and San Juan Ranges are laced with trails for all levels of  hikers.

Fish Your National Forests: This site can be accessed by passenger car. Fish available include: Trout, Native Trout. Types of fishing available include: Wade, Shore, Non-motorized boat, Float tube, Fly, Spin, Bait. ADA accessible fishing access with fishing pier and boat launch

At a Glance

Current Conditions: Full service ends on September 24, 2023.
Shoulder season fees apply after that. No potable water will be available.
Reservations: Reservations can be made by visiting Reservations must be made at least 4 days ahead of arrival and can be made up to 6 months in advance for standard sites or 12 months in advance for group areas.
Area Amenities: Accessible, Boat ramp, Tent camping, Picnic tables, Toilets, Drinking water, Parking
Fees: Single site - $29 to $31/night
Double site - $58 to $62/night
Group site - $99 to $103/night
Shoulder season - $10/night (sometime after Labor Day)
$12 for day use (picnicking in the campground)
Picnic area - Free, no camping.
Fee envelopes and a collection box are provided near the entrance. 
Open Season: Memorial Day weekend - The second Monday of September.
Usage: Heavy
Best Season: June, July, August, Sept.
Busiest Season: July
Restrictions: On Big Meadows Reservoir, boats are allowed. No wakes are allowed, trolling motors are okay. Boat ramp on north shore.  There is a 14-day camping limit in campground. Must have a Colorado fishing license to fish the reservoir and streams.
Closest Towns: South Fork, Colorado
Water: Drinking water
Restroom: Vault toilet
Operated By: Concessionaire
Information Center: Electric hookups are not available. This campground has first-come, first-served sites. A fee will be charged for additional vehicles. The 14 day stay limit is strictly enforced. Camping for a period longer than 14 days during any 30-consecutive day period is prohibited. If you have booked back-to-back reservations, you will be asked to cancel all days after the first 14. This campground is set to open on May 27, 2023. Camp host may only be intermittently available. 

General Information


GPS Info. (Latitude, Longitude):
37.53806, -106.79611
37°32'17"N, 106°47'46"W

From South Fork, Colorado, take Highway 160 for 13 miles west, turn onto Forest Road 410 SW, and go 1.8 miles to Big Meadows Campground.


Accessible sites and fishing access.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Campground Camping

46 sites

No. of Sites 47 single site(s), 7 double site(s)
Reservation Info This site can be reserved by calling Toll Free 1-877-444-6777 (International 518-885-3639 or TDD 877-833-6777) or on-line at\&parkId=70537\&topTabIndex=CampingSpot
No. of Accessible sites 3 of 54

Lake and Pond Fishing

Big Meadows Reservoir
Fish Species Rainbow \& Brook trout stocked
Special Designations accessible
Fishing Mode Good trail all around the lake shore, accessible fishing pier
Water Temperature cold
Fishing Method flies, lures and bait where allowed
Water/Flow Level seasonal
Difficulty Level: Easy

River and Stream Fishing

Big Meadows reservoir and nearby streams. Please check Colorado Division of Wildlife regulations

Fish Species seasonal
Fishing Mode Rainbow \& Brook trout stocked
Special Designations Flies, lures \& bait where allowed
Water Temperature Easy
Water/Flow Level cold

Day Hiking

Cascade Falls Trail (foot) - 0.25 miles Archuleta Trail #839 (horse and foot) - 6 miles accesses the Weminuche Wilderness
Difficulty Level: Intermediate


Archuleta Trail #839 (horse and foot) - 6 miles accesses the Weminuche Wilderness
Difficulty Level: Intermediate

Viewing Wildlife

Wildlife viewing
Species deer, elk, moose and ducks
Difficulty Level: Intermediate

Viewing Plants


Difficulty Level: Easy

Viewing Scenery

Beautiful scenery. Cascade waterfalls trail by camp site #25

Group Picnicking

Adjacent to campground

No. of Accessible sites accessible
Difficulty Level: Easy

Scenic Driving

Access to Hwy 160 and scenic drive over Wolf Creek Pass, Continental Divide \& Lobo Overlook

Boating - Motorized

Big Meadows reservoir - boat ramp north shore - no wake
Type of Craft ideal for canoes \& float tubes
Difficulty Level: Easy

Boating - Non-Motorized

Big Meadows reservoir - boat ramp north shore - no wake
Type of Craft ideal for canoes \& float tubes
Difficulty Level: Easy

XC Skiing/Snowshoeing

Big Meadows Nordic Ski Trail is 11.4 miles southwest of South Fork on the right on the reservoir road. The ski trail is on the road to the reservoir. It starts off on fairly even grade, crosses a bridge then an easy ascent to the reservoir and then loops through the campground. The trail is appropriate for all levels of skiers. The length of the entire trail system is about 4.3 miles round-trip.
Nearby Resorts Wolf Creek Ski area
Difficulty Level: Easy to Intermediate


Snowmobile trail \& play area on frozen reservoir
Nearby Resorts Wolf Creek Ski area
Difficulty Level: Intermediate

Related Information

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities

Current Conditions


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