Las Animas County, Colorado

Towns and Villages in
Las Animas County

Attractions in
Las Animas County

Huerfano County, Colorado

Towns and Villages in
Huerfano County

Attractions in
Huefano County


Southern Colorado
Your Guide to Las Animas County and Huerfano County in Southern Colorado

San Isabel National Forest

San Isabel National Forest is one of eleven National Forests in Colorado. The Forest includes over one million acres of beautiful scenery with snow-capped mountain peaks, spring wildflowers, autumn colors, crystal clear mountain lakes, and clear blue skies to enjoy.

Prior to the establishment of the Forest, the presence of American Indians, Spanish Land Grants, homesteading, and the discovery of gold and silver were important in shaping the land. The lands oristevelly set aside as Forest Reserve in 1902 were renamed the San Isabel National Forest in March, 1907. From 1907 until 1945 the Forest grew steadily in size as several other Forests and additional lands were integrated into the San Isabel National Forest. Today the Forest is administered by three District Offices and the Supervisor's Office.

The Forest is bounded on the west and north by the Continental Divide, and on the east by the Pike National Forest. The Wet Mountains, Collegiate Peaks, Sawatch Range, Spanish Peaks, and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains provide a variety of scenery. Elevations range from a low of 5,860 feet to the top of Mt. Elbert, Colorado's highest, at 14,433 feet. The high elevations account for the comfortable summer temperatures and the year-round snow on some of the higher peaks.

Black bear, mule deer, elk, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, turkey, and mountain lions are among the animals and birds that make the Forest their home.

Today, with almost 800 miles of hiking trails, several ski areas, nineteen peaks over 14,000 feet, several scenic byways, numerous roads and highways, campgrounds and picnic areas, the Forest provides challenges and opportunities for everyone.

Parts of the following Wilderness Areas are in the San Isabel National Forest:

  • Holy Cross
  • Mount Massive
  • Collegiate Peaks
  • Buffalo Peaks
  • Sangre de Cristo
  • Greenhorn
  • Spanish Peaks

Two long-distance hiking trails of national importance pass through the San Isabel National Forest: the Colorado Trail and the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail. The Colorado Trail is a 469 mile trail between Denver and Durango. The 3,100 mile Continental Divide Trail is proposed between the Mexican and Canadian borders. Numerous side trails connect these two trails with campgrounds, trailheads and local communities along the way.

The Colorado Trail is open to hikers, horseback riders and cross-country skiers. Mountain bikes are currently permitted on the non-Wilderness segments of the trail. The trail passes through seven National Forests, six Wildernesses, five major river systems, and eight mountain ranges. The trail is even more impressive because it was created through a massive volunteer effort involving thousands of trail-building enthusiasts.

The Colorado Trail is jointly administered by the Colorado Trail Foundation and the US Forest Service.

The 3,100 mile Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, when completed, will provide spectacular backcountry travel the length of the Rocky Mountains from Mexico to Canada. It is the most rugged of the long distance trails. The trail was designated in 1978 and is designed to be an educational as well as a hiking experience. The trail traverses a variety of terrain, including high desert, forests, geologic formations, and mountain meadows. Along the way travelers can catch glimpses of a variety of historical, cultural and scenic landscapes, as well as abundant wildlife. Hiking opportunities range from short leisurely hikes to challenging alpine and desert segments. On the San Isabel National Forest, one of 25 National Forests traversed by the Continental Divide Trail, 100 miles of the trail are between Tennessee Pass on the north and Windy Peak on the south.

For more information...

District Ranger. 3170 East Main Street, Canon City, CO 81212. Phone: (719) 269-8500.

Cities and Towns near San Isabel National Forest

Cuchara.  Cuchara, Colorado is situated on the eastern slopes of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the heart of the Cucharas River Valley.

Gardner.  Gardner, Colorado is located in the Huerfano River Valley.

La Veta.  La Veta, Colorado is situated on the eastern side of La Veta Pass through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and at the northern opening of the Cuchara River Valley. Just south of town is the foot of the West Spanish Peak. At the southern edge of town is the eighteen hole, Tom Weiskopf designed Grandote Golf Course.

Stonewall.  Stonewall is a village located at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains on Highway 12.

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