Don’t let the sleepy town of South Fork, Colo., tucked into the folds of the mountains fool you. Its small size is counteracted by the extraordinary amount of energy its 350 year-round residents generate through outdoor recreation.
Fish the legendary waters of the Rio Grande River that meets the South Fork in town or try fly-fishing with a local guide. If you’re a golfer, head to the Rio Grande Golf Course, a difficult but spectacular mountain course.
Bring a car, ATV, jeep or bike. The area offers hundreds of miles of trails designated for motorized traffic. These trails will take you to mountain peaks and amazing vistas of the San Luis Valley, to creek bottoms and dense forest growth. No matter your mode of transportation or your skill level, beginners to advanced riders will find limitless possibilities, day after day.
You may catch sight of the Silver Threads hiking group, who seem to get outdoors as often as they get out of bed. And the great outdoors is all around you in South Fork. Hikers can jump on the Continental Divide Trail or explore the Weminuche Wilderness just two miles from town. It’s one of the wildest places in the state. In 1979 the last Colorado grizzly was killed here, 27 years after they were thought to be extinct in the state
3 Days of Adventure in the Rocky Mountains
Ready for a mountain adventure after your visit to Great Sand Dunes National Park? South Park, Colo., is just a 1.5-hour drive west of the park where the terrain changes from flat prairies and dunes to mountain peaks. Here are our suggestions for a 3-day weekend in the South Fork area.
Day 1: Take a Scenic Drive
Follow the Silver Thread Scenic & Historic Byway as it weaves in and out of mountain towns surrounded by dense foliage. Find directions, a map and download the app at www.southfork.org/silver-thread-scenic-byway
Day 2: Walk Among Strange Pinnacles and Hoodoos
Have strong legs and a sense of adventure? Take a 4WD vehicle down a backcountry road, then follow a footpath to a spectacular panoramic view of this wilderness canyon filled with lava formations. Learn more at www.southfork.org/wheeler-geological-area
Day 3: Bring your Rod and Binoculars to High-Country Lakes
Big Meadows Reservoir is an accessible state wildlife area and fishing haven, where deer, bear and moose are easy to spot.
Up for more? If the backcountry road is dry and in good condition, continue past Big Meadows Reservoir to get to two smaller lakes. You’ll reach Shaw Lake after three miles and Hunter’s Lake parking area after another 11 miles. A scenic 1-mile trail loops around the lake and is a great way to access the banks for fishing.
For more information:
South Fork Visitor Center
28 Silverthread Ln., at the junction of Hwy. 160 and Hwy. 149, South Fork, Colo.