At Home in the Weminuche Wilderness

With each rotation around the sun, our perspectives expand like arms stretching to the farthest reaches of the universe. Our minds open and our hearts grow as we gain awareness and recognize the abundance of beauty this world has to offer. Over the past five years, we have built a home and a life together, a slither of stability. All the while we have thrown ourselves into chaos, chasing our deepest passions, choosing instability in our earnest quest to see the world and experience as much of it as possible.

During the current world Pandemic, we have found ourselves grounded. Being in one place for too long is not something we are used to. Although we call this state home, the world is our home. All of nature’s beautiful wild places are our home.

The silver lining in these travel restrictions was the reminder of how truly blessed we are to call southwest Colorado home, to have our own little piece of Mother Earth all to ourselves away from the negative energy that is currently pervading society. The past two months is the longest amount of time we have spent home in years. We travel extensively always eager and full of angst to explore places we have never been. Sometimes forgetting there is so much to see and explore right here in our own backyard.

All around us lies the largest wilderness area in Colorado, 499,771 acres, The Weminuche Wilderness. We are surrounded by the San Juan National Forest, the San Juan Mountains, the San Juan and Piedra rivers, the worlds deepest hot springs and endless wild land to explore.

We re-awakened ourselves to this beauty and set out to explore it some more. We headed down Piedra road to county road 600, one of our favorite drives. Stopping at the cliffs that run alongside the Piedra River, a great rock climbing spot for those daring enough to try. Across the deep canyon is the Piedra River trail, a relatively easy hike that follows along the River with many access paths to the water.

We followed the road through groves of pines and aspens, to a local favorite. Tumbling down a volcanic cliff, the towering Piedra Falls demands our attention with its deafening roar. It crashes its way down the cliff side into forceful rapids, eager and intent on reaching a destination.

The hike to Piedra Falls is quick and easy making it a popular spot for tourists. However due to the Pandemic we managed to get the falls all to ourselves, the perfect place for a lunch picnic.

We then made our way to another favorite spot, Williams Creek reservoir. Williams creek is a great hub for hiking trails eventually leading to the CDT. We hiked around the lake for some stellar views of the San Juan mountains, stunned by the silence.

Spring is our favorite time to be in Pagosa, typically there aren’t as many tourists, the peaks still carry remnants of winter with their snowy caps. Yet we are blessed with blue skies and sunny daytime temperatures. Everything is lush and full with life from the snowmelt, the first round of wildflowers begin to bloom and the wildlife is very active.

A speck in a sea of mountains, we faded away from Pagosa for a day up and over Wolf Creek Pass.

Trickles of snowmelt rushing from every lonely crevice it could seep it’s way into, the sun beaming with pride. An hour and a half later we found ourselves following the Rio Grande River into the small town of Creede. Creede is a hidden gem we happened to work a summer at four years ago. What began as a mining town in the 1800’s is now still a quaint little town with such an authentic rustic feel. Creede is the gateway to the other side of the continental divide and the weminuche wilderness.

We decided to take a drive down to the Rio Grande headwaters reservoir. The drive begins on a gravel/dirt road that is for the most part maintained. As you head deeper and deeper into the forest the road gets narrower. A portion of the drive does go through a burn area which is not the prettiest sight, but once you get beyond that, the forest is lush once more. There are plenty of beautiful places to boondocks camp along the Rio Grande River.

As you reach the reservoir dam, the road becomes narrower with mild drop offs on your left leading down into the water. There is a dirt road that comes up eventually on the left that you can drive down to a parking area. From there it’s a short walk too sandy embankment on the waters edge. We decided to stop here for a picnic and enjoy the surrounding views. The lake extends itself out of sight, with snowy peaks looming in the background. The Rio Grande Pyramid, the headwaters for the Rio Grande River. There was a stillness on a portion of the lake mirroring back a dreamy reflection.

As we continued down the dirt road, it got seemingly narrower and the drop offs grew a bit. The rocky cliffs on our right are prone to rock slides and there was definitely some debris from recent slides on the road which we had to maneuver around cautiously on this tight road.

The views from here steadily continued to grow more beautiful. Snowmelt made its way into waterfalls trickling down mountainsides and cliff edges.

The reservoir transformed back into a river before our eyes, snaking it’s way through a flat valley of wetlands. Up towards the Rio Grande Pyramid, home.

Flocks of geese fluttered in the water, creating ripples in the still silent picturesque landscape.

We remembered that the road continues for a while to another water access point. Then after that it becomes a rugged 4 wheel road leading to hiking trails and horseback riding trails.

We decided to turn back at a stopping point before reaching the other side, taking in the views and feeling so blessed to call the Weminuche wilderness home.

2 thoughts on “At Home in the Weminuche Wilderness

  1. Love this online archive, Greg and Tyema!!!! so well done. Cool meeting you at moto school. Nice being able to pop in here and see where exploring takes you!


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