San Juan Headwaters

Exceptional wildlife and unmatched views

The San Juan Headwaters, which is comprised of the San Juan River and Navajo River, is emblematic of Colorado’s richness and diversity. They provide important buffers to federal forests and wilderness areas and contain a number of large ranching operations. The area is especially important for wildlife as corridors to travel between summer and winter ranges. The upper reaches of the San Juan originate in wilderness areas —the state’s last grizzly bear was seen here—high on the Continental Divide, from three main tributary creeks: Wolf Creek at Wolf Creek Pass, and the East and West Forks of the San Juan River. These tributary creeks descend steeply from the Divide through lush glaciated valleys and sub-alpine and montane forests, joining together on a broad and picturesque glacial valley floor to form the San Juan River. Colorado Open Lands stewards thousands of acres of protected lands in this incredible landscape.

Featured Projects:
Bootjack Ranch


Mineral County, 1,103 Acres
One of the most scenic mountain properties in southwest Colorado. Surrounded by San Juan National Forest, and includes habitat for black bear, mountain lion, deer and elk.

Catspaw Ranch


Archuleta County, 520 Acres

East Fork Ranch
Mineral County, 2,769 Acres
Entirely surrounded by public lands, and contains more than four miles of the East Fork of the San Juan River. Provides stunning scenic views from several forest roads, and trailheads for two public trails.
Partners: The Conservation Fund, GOCO, The Gates Family Foundation

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