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Pike, Rio Grande, and San Isabel National Forests


Pike National Forest
The 1,105,704-acre Pike National Forest includes a large variety of recreation opportunities for every kind of visitor. For backpackers and hikers the Colorado Trail, Lost Creek Wilderness, and Buffalo Peaks Wilderness provide hundreds of miles of trails. Camping is available in approximately 70 developed campgrounds throughout the forest. Mountain bikers, hikers and horseback riders are provided with countless areas with a variety of terrain to explore. Anglers can fish for brown, cutthroat, rainbow, and brook trout on wild trout and gold-medal fishing streams. Winter sports enthusiasts will find many trails for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling. The Central Colorado town of Fairplay is a major gateway to recreation in the Pike National Forest.

The Pike National Forest is located south of Denver and north of Cripple Creek, Colorado. The Pegmatite Points form the northern boundary of the Pike National Forest. The northwestern boundary of the Pike National Forest is the Continental Divide. To the west, the Pike National Forest boundary ends at the Park County Line. The southern boundary of the forest lies north of Cripple Creek on Pikes Peak. To the east the border is formed by Colorado Springs and the central plains.

Climate in the Pike National Forest is controlled mainly by the Rocky Mountains. The weather varies extremely on a yearly, daily, and hourly basis. Temperatures are affected by elevation, cooling four degrees for every 1,000 feet gained. The average yearly precipitation is 16 inches, the majority of which comes in spring and summer. Summer temperatures average 72 degrees during the day. Nighttime freezing temperatures are not uncommon during the summer. The mean winter temperature is 26 degrees. The low humidity on the eastern slopes makes both warm and cold temperatures seem more comfortable.

 

Rio Grande National Forest
The 1,851,792-acre Rio Grande National Forest offers visitor a scenic area full of outstanding recreation opportunities, incredible beauty and breathtaking adventure. The Forest is on the eastern slope of the Continental Divide in south central Colorado. Alamosa is its eastern gateway. Main routes into the area are U.S. Hwy 285, U.S. Hwy 160 and State Hwy 17.

The major drainages on the forest include the Rio Grande, Alamosa, and Conejos Rivers. The headwaters of the Rio Grande River begin in this national forest characterized by mountain waterways and rugged high country. Recreation within the forest are many. Visitors can enjoy easy access to hiking, mountain biking, road biking, camping, picnicking, four-wheel driving, horseback riding and more. Many visitors enjoy downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling during the winter. 

The region's climate is influenced by the mountainous terrain. Elevations range from 7,500 feet to over 14,000 feet at the top of several mountain peaks. In general, the climate at low elevations is cool and arid while the high country is cold and humid. Average precipitation varies from under eight inches at the 8,000 foot level to over 50 inches in some alpine areas. Summer is short and frost may occur anytime in high elevations. Annual temperatures range from 90 degrees in summer to 30 degrees below zero in winter. Snowfall varies form two feet to eight feet in the Forest. Rapid weather changes, with temperature changes of 40 degrees in periods as short as four to six hours, occur frequently.

 

San Isabel National Forest
The San Isabel National Forest has 1,109,782 acres of mountains, rivers, canyons and meadows. The forest is bounded on the west and north by the Continental Divide and on the east by the Pike National Forest. The Central Colorado towns of Buena Vista, Canon City, Leadville and Salida are major gateways to the San Isabel National Forest.

The recreation opportunities in the San Isabel National Forest are limitless. Visitors will find over 40 developed campgrounds in the San Isabel National Forest. More than 700 miles of trails including the Colorado and Continental Divide Trails are available for backpacking, hiking, saddle trips, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling into the backcountry. The terrain allows challenges for beginners and experts alike.  Area ski resorts offer outstanding downhill skiing and snowboarding. The forest has many small lakes and stream that provide excellent fishing opportunities for cutthroat, rainbow, brook, and lake trout. Visitors can visit numerous abandoned mountain homesteads and ghost towns, remnants of the original Colorado settlers, who came to the region to mine gold and silver. A number of scenic byways are available for car touring. Twin Lakes and Turquoise Lake recreation areas offer a variety of water oriented activities including boating and fishing. 

Climate in the San Isabel National Forest is controlled mainly by the Rocky Mountains. The weather varies extremely on a yearly, daily, and hourly basis. Temperatures are affected by elevation, cooling four degrees for every 1,000 feet gained. The average yearly precipitation is 16 inches, the majority of which comes in spring and summer. Summer temperatures average 72 degrees during the day. Nighttime freezing temperatures are not uncommon during the summer. The mean winter temperature is 26 degrees. The low humidity on the eastern slopes makes both warm and cold temperatures seem more comfortable.


South Park Chamber of Commerce: The South Park Chamber of Commerce serves the town of Fairplay and surrounding area. They are an excellent source for information regarding the community and will provide assistance in planning your visit to the area.


The Heart of the Rockies Chamber of Commerce serves the town of Salida and surrounding area. They are an excellent source for information regarding the community and will provide assistance in planning your visit to the area. You can reach them tollfree at 877-772-5432, M - F 9AM to 5PM, MST.


The Lake County Visitors Website serves the towns of Leadville, Twin Lakes, and surrounding area. They are an excellent source for information regarding the community and will provide assistance in planning your visit to the area.




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