Hermosa Creek Special Management Area

Hermosa_SMA_Map“The purpose of the Special Management Area is to conserve and protect for the benefit of present and future generations the watershed, geological, cultural, natural, scientific, recreational, wildlife, riparian, historical, educational, and scenic resources of the Special Management Area.” - Hermosa Creek Watershed Management Plan, January 2018

The Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection legislation, passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama in December, 2014, created the Hermosa Creek Special Management Area (SMA) and the adjacent 37,236-acre Hermosa Creek Wilderness. The Hermosa Creek SMA is located within Hermosa Creek watershed between Highway 550 and the Hermosa Creek Wilderness. 

The SMA is available to the following recreational uses: 

Due to the SMA designation, special travel management rules and seasonal closures apply to the area. All users are required to stay on designated trails in the Hermosa Creek SMA; new routes must not be created when trails are impassable. The following maps show what type of users are allowed and the seasonal closures per road / trail. 

Please note, in 2018, the Hermosa Creek Watershed experienced the 54,000-acre "416 Fire". As a result, there are burned area hazards in the Hermosa Creek Watershed. Entry into burned areas is at your own risk. Some trails will be impassable, and hazards such as falling trees, unstable soils, and debris flows will exist. 

At a Glance

  • All motorized and mechanized travel is restricted to designated roads, trails, and areas, year-round including bicycles.
  • Seasonal road closures apply to mechanized (bicycles) as well as motorized uses, with the following exception: Lower Hermosa Road 576 remains open to mechanized use year-round to allow bike access to the Hermosa Creek Trail. Mechanized and e-bike use of open FS roads within the ski area permit boundary will be seasonally managed under permit terms.
  • Dispersed camping:
    • Roads 577, 579, 580, 581, and 550: Driving a vehicle 300 feet off-road for dispersed camping is allowed if resource damage does not occur. 
    • Hermosa Park Road 578 corridor: Parking a motorized or mechanized vehicle is restricted to one vehicle length off of designated routes and spurs only (not 300 feet off the 578).
    • Lower Hermosa Road 567: Dispersed camping is prohibited. Camping in this area must be in the developed campground.
  • For a full list of Hermosa Creek SMA Regulations, refer to the Hermosa Recreation and Travel Management Plan Appendix C.  
Closest Towns: Durango, CO
Water: Purification recommended
Restroom: Practice Leave No Trace
Information Center: Columbine Ranger District

General Information


From Durango, CO: There are two main access points to the Hermosa Creek SMA. 

  • Lower Hermosa Creek Road #576: Head north approximately 10 miles on U.S. 550. Turn left (west) onto Co Rd 201. After 240 yards, turn right to stay on Co Rd 201. Continue straight onto FR 576 for 3.5 miles.
  • Hermosa Park Road, #578:  Head north approximately 26 miles on U.S. 550. Turn left (west) into Purgatory Ski Resort. Continue onto Hermosa Park Road, FR #578.


Parking a motorized or mechanized vehicle off of an open National Forest system road or trail for any purpose will be allowed within one vehicle length from the edge of the road only when such use does not create unsafe conditions and does not cause damage to resources and facilities.


Mountain Biking

Dispersed Camping

River and Stream Fishing

Day Hiking

OHV Camping

OHV Road Riding

OHV Trail Riding

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities