North Lake State Wildlife Area/North Fork Road
Aliases: North Reservoir, Monument Lake Park, North Lake
Besides the road over Cordova Pass, the only road in Las Animas County that accesses good high-elevation habitats is the North Fork Road (FR 34). Expect excellent willow tangles and aspen stands, along with some ponderosa, oak and mixed conifer habitats. The stream along the road (the north fork of the Purgatoire) has American Dippers, and birding along the road at night might produce Flammulated or Saw-whet Owls. Elk, deer, bear, pine marten, mink, and porcupines live in this area. While the road itself does not make it to the spruce-fir belt, from the campground at its end (fee area) one can continue on hiking trails to higher elevations and above treeline, with all the benefits thereof. Highway 12 through this area passes through amazing displays of fall color when the aspen leaves turn in October; summer is the time to tour the Cucharas Pass Wildflower Identification interpretive trail.
County: Las Animas
Attractions: Highway of Legends Scenic and Historic Byway
Habitat: Mixed-Conifer Forest, Aspen Groves, Streamside Willow, Stream
Directions: From the top of CO-12 along the Huerfano/Las Animas County line, travel south for 2.3 miles to the turn-off for FR 34. The road continues for 5 miles to a campground. North Lake is along CO-12 just north of this turn-off, and Monument Lake is just off CO-12 to the east, 1.5 miles south of this turn-off.
Delorme: 92 B2-C2
Roads of Colorado: 152 C2
Dates of Access: SWA is accessible all year. No winter access up North Fork Road.
Hours: Daylight hours
Ownership: Colorado Parks and Wildlife and US Forest Service
Admission: Beginning May 1, 2021, a valid Hunting license, Fishing license, OR State Wildlife Area Pass is required for everyone 16 or older accessing any State Wildlife Area or State Trust Land. USFS camping fee for Angel and Shavano campground
Restrictions: No fires or camping on SWA. Obey all CPW rules and regulations; be aware of hunters in season
Lodging: Tent camping at Purgatoire Campground
Other Wildlife: Bears, elk, bighorn sheep (nearby)
Handicapped Access: Limited
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