- The South San Juan Wilderness encompasses 158,790 acres of terrain in southern central Colorado. This is the wildest area in the state. Several grizzly sightings have been made in this area, and it is considered to be the last remaining grizzly habitat in the state. The area was formed by radical geologic changes the most significant to the way it appears today are volcanism and glaciation, respectively. The major drainages in the area are the East Fork of the San Juan River, Conejos River and Navajo River. The Continental Divide runs north to south, through the middle of the South San Juan Wilderness. State Highway 17 and U.S. Highways 84 and 160 provide access to the region.
Copyright: McGuire - US Forest Service
Conejos River at South Fork Trailhead looking into South Fork Drainage - 1975
Recreation - In this wilderness as is all others mechanized and motorized vehicles are not permitted. Recreation opportunities include hiking, backpacking, horseback riding and fishing. Maintained in the area are 180 miles of trails. The Continental Divide Trail crosses the region from north to south.
Climate - Mountainous terrain influences the climate visitors find in the South San Juan Wilderness. In general, the climate in the lower elevations is arid, with cool nights and hot days while the high country is cold and sometimes humid, with daily precipitation.
Summer is short and frost may occur anytime in high elevations. Annual temperature extremes range from 90 degrees in summer to 30 degrees below zero in winter. Rapid weather changes, with temperature changes of 40 degrees in periods as short as four to six hours, occur frequently.
The South San Juan Wilderness area exists in south central Colorado. The highways that access the area include U.S. Highways 84 and 160, to the west, and Highway 17 and Conejos River Road 250, to the east.