San Juan Mountains Overview
- Craggy mining country
- Country life
- Natural wonders, wild westerns
This historic Colorado corner, once rich in silver and gold, is a rocky land of volcanoes, lakes, waterfalls and streams…
The San Juan Mountains form the southern part of the Rockies, a rugged terrain where Jeeps come in handy and hikers find heaven. Still-thriving mining communities sit side by side with abandoned ghost towns and ancient Native American dwellings. The source of the Rio Grande is nestled somewhere within these majestic mountains. It’s a place where the adrenaline-seeker is king: rafting, heli-skiing, ice-climbing and snow-shoeing take place with some seriously scenic backdrops. Every summer, when the snow's melted away, the technicolour flowers, bright blue skies and farmers’ markets bursting with fresh produce take over.
Suitably San Juan Mountains
The area is home to a unique geographic point: the Four Corners, a part of the United States where four states meet at one place. If you’re wondering, they’re (south-west) Colorado, (north-west) New Mexico, (north-east) Arizona and (south-east) Utah.
- Taxis aren’t really an option around here – the distances are too big for a meter to master. Hire cars are best.
- Tipping culture
- 15–20 per cent is usual in bars, restaurants and the like. If in doubt, opt for 20 per cent.
- Siesta and fiesta
- Timings in this remote destination are a law unto themselves; don’t expect any regularity.
- Packing tips
- Rugged, outdoor gear ready to take on the mountain setting: windbreaker, check, sturdy boots, check, lots of warm layers, check.
- Recommended reads
- Midnight Cactus by Bella Pollen; One Man’s West by David Lavender; Blood and Thunder: An Epic of the American West by Hampton Sides>; A Lady’s Ride in the Rockies by Isabella Bird.
- Vegetarians, close your eyes: bison, elk and venison are the dishes of the day. The region’s also big on microbreweries, producing local beers such as the Durango Winter Ale which uses water from the San Juan snowpack. Wine is also made at the nearby Sutcliffe Vineyard.
- US dollar ($).
- Time zone
- GMT -7.
- Dialling codes
- US: +1; south-west Colorado: 970.
- Do go/don't go
- It’s said that skiers who fall in love with Colorado in the winter will really fall in love with it in summer, when the technicolour wildflowers bloom, melted mountain snow floods into the rivers and sunny blue skies are all around. Spring is known as the ‘mud season’ due to the melting taking place on the mountains.