10 Best Campgrounds in San Juan National Forest

Teddy Roosevelt gave us the San Juan National Forest in 1905. People say it is really pretty.

The San Juan National Forest is in Colorado and it has 1.8 acres of land. There are forty-seven campgrounds, but only thirty-one meet the criteria.

These days, ski slopes get snowy all winter. Steam trains take tourists through mountain valleys. People have an opinion on which is the most beautiful time of year – columbines in spring or aspens in autumn.

The best way to see the San Juan Mountains is by driving through them on the main road..

They call it the Million Dollar Highway because if you crash off of the edge, your life insurance will be worth a million dollars. This is because it goes from Durango to Silverton and then Ouray.

Here are some popular campgrounds you may visit:

1

Florida Campground

Florida Campground

Enjoy the outdoors here at Florida Campground. Trees surround the place and it looks like a forest. You’ll have plenty of shade with trees from Colorado blue spruce, aspen, and fir.

Fishing is a popular pastime in this village, with the river running through and your line might never touch water.

Give yourself time to explore some backcountry lakes drenched in wilderness beauty by taking the short Lost Lake or Stump Lake trails. You will see a lot of beautiful sights on these trips.

2

Haviland Lake Campground

Haviland Lake Campground

At 8,100 feet in the San Juan Mountain range on the eastern side, this campground is unique in many ways. Twenty miles north of Durango, CO, it’s easily accessible via Highway 550.

To enter the camp, you’ll need to follow and easy-to-navigate paved 550. The signage throughout the camps will guide you from one station to the next. You might enjoy bumping into friendly volunteers at your entrance pay station who are more than happy to answer any questions or provide an informative map of what’s in store for your visit in their own words.

Facilities include water, trash pickup, campfire rings, picnic tables and restrooms. Firewood is available. Most parks and campsites are accessible to anyone, including those with disabilities. This includes barrier-free spaces, picnic sites, and toilets.

The campground offers single- and double-family campsites with electric hookups, as well as picnic tables, fire rings, and accessible toilets for the disabled.

A dock is a place where people can go fishing. It is on the shore of the lake. Anglers cast for trout, a Colorado Division of Wildlife fishing license is required to fish

Several hiking trails are in the area for visitors to explore. The Forebay Lake Trail, which starts at the campground and leads to small Forebay Lake less than a mile east of the campground, is one option.

The historic Rico-to-Rockwood Wagon Road passes nearby, through and within Haviland and Chris Park. Built in the late 1800s, the road was used for six years until the railroad opened.

3

Williams Creek Campground

Williams Creek Campground

Come out to Williams Creek Campground for a motorized boat! RVs or beat-up Subarus, this area has camping opportunities for all types.

The water on Williams Creek Reservoir is wake-free and fishing in the late fall or spring is fun. Try to get there early–the popularity surges in the summer!

There are a variety of sites in Wilson Creek, CG. Some are level and suitable for larger rigs, but most are well spaced and there is some with great privacy.

The ponderosa forest has been thinned, leaving a majority of the stumps as evidence. Aspen, spruce, and fir are colonizing.

“Reservable sites have water and sewer. But they are open to the neighbors. There is ample access to clean drinking water throughout the campground, and restrooms with flush toilets or vault toilets.”

The roads in the campground are rough, dusty dirt and gravel, and need to be trimmed. However, we had no problems towing our 23′ Airstream trailer.

People come to this area because it is fun to fish and drive ATVs. The campground is near Williams Reservoir. It is a popular fishing spot and people also kayak there.

There are trails for ATVs and hiking within 5 miles from the campground.

4

Lower Piedra Campground

  Lower Piedra Campground

The Lower Piedra Campground is on the west side of U.S. Highway 160, about 18 miles from Bayfield and 25 miles from Pagosa Springs.

It is about a half-mile up Forest Road 621.The campground is located on the west bank of the Assiniboine River and has 17 level sites complete with plenty of shade.

Lower Piedra Campground is a place to stay and fish. Feel free to take a break in the shade if you need it. Nearby there are places to explore like the Chimney Rock Archaeological Area where you can see Ancestral Puebloan sites.

5

Target Tree Campground

Target Tree Campground

Target Tree Campground is 7 miles east of Mancos. It is a good place to stay for trips to Durango or Mesa Verde National Park.

The name “Target Tree” came from when the Ute Indians used this area to get food. They would eat bark and sap that they would cut off of the Ponderosa pines. Also, many trees were scarred by bullets from their guns while they practiced shooting targets.

Be warned – you’ll be walking on sacred ground at this campground. It’s called that because the Ute Indians used to shoot arrows there.

Bird watchers delight in the variety of species available at this location, and views from hillside overlooks make for a picturesque spot.

If you want to go hiking, you can check out the Narrow Gauge Trail. It starts at the campsite and leads up to an old railroad grade.

6

Transfer Group Campground

Transfer Group Campground

Transfer Campground is 11 miles north of Mancos. The campsites are first-come, first served, and there is one group site that can be reserved.

This campground is at 8,500 feet above sea level. It has many aspen trees. There are nearby trails too.

You can go on a trail with your ATV or motorbike. You can also hike down the Big Al Interpretive Trail, Canyon Box Trail, and Rim Trail.

People who want to catch a fish can go to Jackson Gulch Reservoir. There are lots of different kinds of fish there, such as rainbow trout, brown trout, and yellow perch.

7

Miller Creek Campground

Miller Creek Campground

Mill Creek Campground is a family-friendly campsite inside of Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park. You can book it on the California State Parks website. You need to make reservations for this park in California, and they tend to fill up in the summer.

The campground has many different areas for camping. Some sites are close together, and others have trees separating them.

The campground is a long way from the grocery store and the town. The drive is approximately 20 minutes.

The campground is green and has many trees. Some sites are close, but not on top of each other.

There are plenty of sites that are set back into groves of redwood trees. And if you are looking for something more secluded, then you can find those too.

The trees at the park make it quieter. If you have never seen redwoods before, come to camp in this spot and see how big they are!

This campground is not close to town or stores. But it is a good place for access to the park because of where it is.

We can explore the northern part of the park, near the Hiouchi Visitor Center, and the southern part of the park, near Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center. This is a central location.

After turning from Hwy 101, Mill Creek Campground is 2 miles away. It is on a steep, paved road. But you can’t hear the highway once you are at the campground.

Some campsites offer bear boxes for storing food (it is illegal to store food in your car), fire rings, and picnic tables.

There are no electrical hookups on any of the campsites, but there is an RV dump station in the campground. RVs up to 24-feet are allowed on site.

8

South Mineral Campground

South Mineral Campground

Located along South Mineral Creek, South Mineral Campground is one of the most popular campgrounds in the San Juan National Forest.

There are 26 campsites, all first-come, first-served. Most campsites offer shade thanks to tall fir and spruce trees. There are also asphalted parking areas for handicap accessibility.

Services include water, trash pickup, fire grates, picnic tables and restrooms. Bear-safe food storage is recommended. The campground has no electricity or other services. Please keep them clean and pack them out.

There are various types of campgrounds, from shady camping spots to sunny RV-friendly campgrounds and even campsites that are ADA accessible.

If you don’t want to fight for a campsite on the busiest days, you can camp at dispersed camping spots scattered along the road.

The Ice Lake Basin trail starts just across the road. It is very steep and difficult. But it is worth it when you see the high alpine lakes and wildflowers in the springtime.

There are also good views with a waterfall just upstream from camp. When you take it easy, you can see the view and sometimes there is water falling over the edge.

9

Junction Creek Campground

Junction Creek Campground

Junction Creek Campground is located within the Durango, Colorado area. The campground is situated near the beginning of the Colorado Trail, and travelers can enjoy a scenic natural environment for hiking and biking opportunities.

The Colorado Trail, also known as the Junction Creek Trail, is about 500 miles long and goes from near here to Denver. It starts in sub-alpine forests and meadows that are above the timberline.

Mountain biking is very popular on the Colorado Trail and the Logchute Trail System which are both nearby.

At the Junction Creek, you can fish for rainbows and brook trout. You may have luck near the campground, but chances improve further up.

There are lots of campsites where people can stay. The place has the kind of campsites that have electricity, and it also has a big shelter for when many people come.

There are different types of sites. Most have tables and a campfire. There is a volleyball court and horseshoe pits. They all have toilets that are accessible, and it has drinking water too.

The campground is on a hillside. It has trees that are pines and oak. The campground is at 7,300 feet.

10

West Fork Campground

West Fork Campground

West Fork Campground is close to the West San Juan River. Visitors come to enjoy hiking and a great sense of solitude.

The West Fork and Wolf Creek are heavily fished streams. Only skilled and patient fishers have much luck in these waters.

The trailhead to the Rainbow Trail is a mile past the campground, and leads to the Weminuche Wilderness. The first part of the trail is on private property, so stay on it and keep it clean.

The campground offers sites that are near the river in order to make it more convenient for families.. The most of the sites are big enough for RVs. There are tables and rings to have a campfire. Toilets and water to drink is there too. You can bring your pet on a leash too if you want to.

A forest of mixed conifers surround the campground, where sites have sun or dark shaded patches depending on your preference. The West Fork can be heard from the campground but not seen.

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