Seasonally closed roads opening on the San Juan National Forest


By Esther Godson

Forest Service

The San Juan National Forest is beginning to open seasonally closed roads. The Pagosa Ranger District recreation staff have been assessing roads this spring and opening as conditions allow. 

The Columbine Ranger District will begin opening most low-elevation roads May 1. The San Juan National Forest will continue to monitor road conditions; upper-elevation and backcountry roads will be opened June 1 or as conditions permit. 

Roads are closed seasonally to wheeled motorized vehicles to protect critical wildlife habitat and/or to prevent damage to road surfaces. Closures offer wildlife herds forage, shelter and protection from disturbance over the winter and into early spring, when animals are most vulnerable. Seasonal closures also prevent damage to road surfaces during freezing and thawing periods, even if snow levels are not very deep. 

Spring conditions are variable, and visitors should be prepared to encounter system roads that are impassable due to snow drifts, waterlogged roadbeds, downed trees or other debris. Visitors are asked to stay off wet roads and respect road closures, which will decrease long-term and costly damages to the roadway.

When visiting the national forest, please follow Leave No Trace principals and to get the most out of your experience, visit the Know Before You Go website. The Recreate Responsibly Coalition also offers guidelines and tips for getting outside and staying healthy while practicing responsible outdoor recreation and wildfire prevention activities.

For specific road information, visit our road conditions Web page or contact your local district office listed below:

• Columbine Ranger District, (970) 884-2512.

• Pagosa Ranger District, (970) 264-2268. 

All offices on the San Juan National Forest are currently conducting business and providing services virtually. For information on the San Juan National Forest, call (970) 247-4874.