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Sangre De Cristo Wilderness Area

Government information and links are at the bottom of this page.

Located in Rio Grande and San Isabel National Forests

Neighboring towns: Salida, Poncha Springs, Wellsville, Howard, Coaldale, Alamosa, Westcliffe

From the San Luis Valleys, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains extend literally to the ends of the horizon. The wilderness area, one of Colorado's newest, includes the entire range north of Blanca Peak, spanning 70 miles to its terminus at Salida.

Sangre de Cristo is Spanish for "Blood of Christ", but no one is quite sure why the region was given this name. Was it because of the bloody hues washing the slopes at sunset,, or the cry of the dying priest, "sangre de Cristo", as his martyred blood flowed onto the ground near here? Of the long and colorful Spanish influence in these mountains and in the San Luis Valley below ther is no doubt. Two four-wheel-drive roads over Medano Pass and Hayden Pass, as well as acces to Lily Lake, were slim exclusions from wilderness designation and split the area into four distinct sections. Unlike most of Colorado's mountains, the high and magnificently rugged Sangres were uplifted suddenly in massive blocks, creating a range of dramatic vertical proportions. Four fourteeners are clumped together in the midsection of the wilderness, including Crestone Needle (14,197 feet). Many climbers consider the Needle to be Colorado's most challenging 14,000-foot peak. Three more fourteeners stand together just south of the boundary. Melting snow feeds many creeks and small lakes, and nourishes a forest of oak, aspen and spruce. Black bears and a few mountain lions live here, along with elk, deer and bighorn sheep.

Long and narrow describes the area, the state's third largest, and the going is rough for the hiker. Most of the 180 miles of trails end at alpine lakes set against virtually unclimbable walls. Great Sand Dunes National Monument lies west of the southern boundary.

Size: 226,420 acres

Elevation: 8,000 to 14,294 feet

Miles of trails: 180

Year designated: 1993

Hunting areas: 82, 86

For more information contact:

Pike & San Isabel National Forests, 1920 Valley Drive, Pueblo, CO 81008
Leadville Ranger District, 2015 N. Poplar, Leadville, CO 80461  (719)486-0749
Pikes Peak Ranger District, 601 So. Weber, Colorado Spgs, CO 80903  (719)636-1602
Salida Ranger District, 325 W. Rainbow Blvd., Salida, CO 81201  (719)539-3591
San Carlos Ranger District, 3170 E. Main St., Canon City, CO 81212  (719)269-8500
South Park Ranger District, Box 219, 320 Hwy 285, Fairplay, CO 80440  (719)836-2031  Fax: (719)836-2033
South Platte Ranger District, 19316 Goddard Ranch Court, Morrison, CO 80903  (303)275-5610

For more information contact:

San Juan National Forest, 15 Burnett Court, Durango, CO 81301  (970)247-4874  Supervisor Office - Cal Joyner
Rio Grande National Forest, 1803 W. US Hwy 160, Monte Vista, CO 81144  (719)852-5941  Supervisor Office - Deann Zwight
Columbine West Ranger District, 110 W. 11th, Durango, CO 81301  (970)884-2512  District Ranger - Mike Johnson
Columbine East Ranger District, 367 South Pearl St., PO Box 439, Bayfield, CO 81122  (970)884-2512  District Ranger - Mike Johnson
Conejos Peak Ranger District, 15571 County Rd. T-5, PO Box 420, La Jara, CO 81140  (719)274-6301  District Ranger - Carlos Pinto
divide Ranger District, 13308 W. US Hwy 160, PO Box 40, Del Norte, CO 81132  (719)657-3321  District Ranger - Gilbert Becenti
Mancos-Dolores Ranger District, 100 North Sixth, PO Box 210, Dolores, CO 81323  (970)882-7296  District Ranger - Michael Znerold
Pagosa Ranger District, 180 Second St., PO Box 310, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147  (970)264-2268  District Ranger - Jo Bridges
Saguache Ranger District, 46525 Colorado Hwy 114, PO Box 67, Saguache, CO 81149  (719)655-2547  District Ranger - Tom Goodwin


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