There is so much to explore in Elk Country! With over 1 million acres of Rio Grande National Forest at our back door you will truly experience colorful Colorado at it’s finest. You can find your own adventure or try one of our favorite Jeep tours:
Summitville Mine & Ghost Town
Take Highway 160 southwest from South Fork for 7 miles, and turn left on Park Creek Rd/FSR 380. After about 15 miles along this route, turn left on FSR 330 for 3 miles and you will reach Summitville. Today, Summitville sits as a Ghost Town, a glimpse into the gold rush of the past with several structures still standing today. It’s an easy drive and worth the visit!
Summitville sits at about 11,800 feet. Gold was first discovered there in 1870 and a gold rush quickly developed in the early 1870’s. By 1886 there were at least 14 saloons, a school, post office and about 700 year-round residents calling Summitville home. The gold rush faded in the later 1880’s and Summitville was nearly abandoned by 1894. Some mines were reopened in 1935 and a significant amount of copper was extracted during World War II. The mine was reopened in 1985 when mining resumed with a new process for extracting ore. However, the mining company filed bankruptcy soon after and the Summitville Mine is now permanently closed and in the reclamation process as a Superfund Site. Be cautious and don’t drink the water!
From Summitville continue on FSR 330 about 2 miles past Summitville where you will reach a junction with FSR 380. Head South toward Platoro Reservoir and continue on FSR 380 past the Elmood Pass turnoff and Stunner campground to FSR 250. Take the left fork and head East about 4 miles to Jasper. Turn North on the Blowout Pass Road and continue on to the summit.
The route to Blowout Pass has beautiful scenery and the little settlement of Jasper has a small cluster of cabins and an old cemetery. Tho road is not difficult and is a quiet drive without a lot of traffic.
From Summitville continue on FSR 330 about 2 miles past Summitville where you will reach a junction with FSR 380. Head South toward Platoro Reservoir and continue on FSR 380 past the Elmood Pass turnoff and Stunner campground to FSR 250. Continue on FSR 250 to Platoro, CO and the reservoir.
The Platoro Reservoir is roughly 990 acres in size and sits at an elevation of 10,000 feet. This is a prime location for fishing and is known for brown, rainbow and brook trout. The reservoir is open to boating as well.
Stony Pass / Cunningham Gulch
Take Highway 149 past Creede and turn on FSR 520 which will lead you passed USPS River Hill Campground and Thirtymile Campsite. Continue on FSR 520 to Pole Creek and then on to Stony Pass. As the road approaches the summit of Stony Pass, there is a beautiful alpine valley which is a great place to see wildflowers and there is also a few old cabins and mine portals. Once you pass over the summit you will find Cunningham Creek and the Highland Mary Town Site.
The Stony Pass crossing has a rich history. The Ute Indians used the trail for centuries and Spanish artifacts have also been discovered in the area. The route was also heavily used by stagecoaches and was the major supply line for 4,000 mines that were operating in the area. The Stony Pass trail offers solitude and experiences less traffic than many others during the peak Summer months.
Wheeler Geologic Area
Wheeler Geologic Area is located 24 miles from South Fork on Pool Table Rd. The 14 mile, 4-wheel drive road to the area is quite rough and a requires an expert skill level. In wet weather it can get very slick and become impassable, it is recommended you check with the local visitor center and ranger department to check conditions. An early start is required, the trip takes about 8 hours and you should allow a few extra hours to explore the area. For a detailed description of the 4WD trail, visit the Upper Rio Grande Guide website.
Wheeler is a fascinating example of a landscape that passes through a very interesting history. It is now at its prime and has developed fantastic features including masses of pinnacles and domes hidden deep within the mountains. High in the La Garita range of Rio Grande National Forest, Wheeler is 640 acres of intriguing landscape. If you are visiting the South Fork Area and looking for a long day hike or day behind the wheel of your 4WD, Wheeler is the place to head!
For more 4WD ideas, trail guides and places to explore, visit the Upper Rio Grande Guide website.