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Forest Road 250 is a graded dirt road that follows the Conejos River from Highway 17 to Platoro, crosses Stunner Pass, and then descends to the San Luis Valley along the Alamosa River. This description of the sights along Forest Road 250 is limited to the stretch south of Platoro, within the Conejos Peak Ranger District and the South San Juan Wilderness.

Continuing up the Conejos River Valley from Highway 17, Forest Road 250 follows the river closely. The Conejos River is one of Colorado's finest fisheries and traveler's area likely to pass many fisherman testing their skill. Cattle grazing in the wide alluvial valley produce a tranquil pastoral scene.

Jacob's Lime Kiln, built by a family of settlers in 1899, can be seen on the east side of the road 4 miles north from Highway 17. Ruins of lime kilns can be found throughout the mountains bordering the San Luis Valley near limestone deposits. Lime was used for mortar, cement, whitewash, preparing hides for tanning, and as a disinfectant.

The lesson in glacial geology continues as one follows Forest Road 250. The Conejos River valley was cut by a major glacier through the thick layers of volcanic basalts, tuffs, and breccias that compose the high plateau of the eastern San Juan Mountains. Smaller tributary glaciers cut the valleys of Elk Creek, the South Fork of the Conejos River, and Saddle Creek all of which can be seen along Forest Road 250. Numerous ice sculpted features are visible: the wide, U-shaped valleys of the Conejos River and its tributaries; the displaced boulders scratched by these glaciers were left along the sides and at the foot of the glaciers as they receded up the valleys. The most notable example of moraine deposits can be seen at the confluence of the South Fork and the Conejos River. The South Fork valley is filled with uneven hummocky piles of rock that had been scoured by the glaciers from the mountains above.

Other examples of geologic forces can be seen in the valley: landslides, rock slides, mud flows, and stream erosion. The Pinnacles, which can be seen on the east side of the valley just above the South Fork of the Conejos, are a group of rock spires left by the erosion of the volcanic Potosi Formation.

Difficulty: Easy

Directions: From Monte Vista, Take Colorado Highway 15 (Gunbarrel Road) south 12.0 miles. Take the Twelve Mile Road 12.0 miles west to the forest boundary where it becomes the Alamosa-Conejos River Road (Forest Road 250).

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Rio Grande National Forest

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Telephone Number: 719-852-5941
The details, dates, and prices mentioned here were accurate at the time of publication.

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