San Juan River
The road following the San Juan River along the southern border of Colorado is definitely off the beaten path, and it’s not a route to take when you’re in a hurry to get somewhere. If you have some time to relax and explore, however, you’ll find plenty of nature here without many people. The riparian cottonwoods and deciduous tangles along the river support Yellow-breasted Chat, Lazuli Bunting, and other birds typical of the habitat. Along the entire river, be alert for Black Phoebes, whose numbers are increasing in this area. In the open country, watch for herds of foraging deer and elk, and coyotes stalking voles in the grass.
Habitat: Grassland/Prairie, Stream, Lowland Riparian
Directions: Go about 20 miles west of Pagosa Springs on US 160 to CO 151 and turn south. Go about 12-14 miles and turn left on CR 500 which runs about seven miles along the north shore of Navajo Reservoir to where it narrows to the San Juan River. Go another three miles to a road that crosses the San Juan, which is where Black Phoebes sightings are possible. CR 500 continues east toward Juanita and turns northeast through Trujillo and eventually ends in Pagosa Springs.
Delorme: 87 D7; 88 C1-D2
Roads of Colorado: 147 F3, 148 A3-B3
Dates of Access: Open all year
Ownership: Southern Ute Reservation
Lodging: Campgrounds at Navajo State Park or hotels in Pagosa Springs
Handicapped Access: Viewing from car