San Juan Mountains, United States

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.

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.

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Getting there

  • Planes

    The region’s main air hubs are Durango, Cortez, Telluride and Montrose, but don’t expect international flights to reach here – get to Denver instead and pick up a connection with United Airlines (www.united.com). Other airlines serving the area are Great Lakes Aviation (www.flygreatlakes.com) and Frontier Airlines (www.frontierairlines.com).
  • Automobiles

    This patch of the Wild West stretches far and wide, so it’s best to pick up your own wagon at the airport; there are rental desks at both Durango and Cortez airports. In winter, make sure you request snow chains and four-wheel drive.
  • Taxis

    Taxis aren’t really an option around here – the distances are too big for a meter to master. Hire cars are best.

Boutique hotels in San Juan Mountains