South Fork evolved into a community to service the mining and lumber industries in the late 1800’s. The historic Silver Thread Byway begins in South Fork and meanders through the mountains linking Creede and Lake City. The byway follows portions of the old Barlow and Sanderson stage and railroad route where signs of the past miners, explorers and early settlers can still be found.
Today South Fork is the base of a rapidly expanding outdoor recreation and naturalist paradise. South Fork is located in the foothills of the San Juan Mountains at an altitude of 8200 feet and at the confluence of the Rio Grande and its south fork. This paradise includes volcanic formations, geologic wonders, high alpine lakes, meadows of wild flowers and fall colors to captivate the most experienced traveler.
This unique area is the best kept secret for summer and winter outdoor fun. Imagine mountain biking through the shade of an ancient evergreen forest to stop and overlook and admire the alpine lake below. Fish the gold medal waters of the Rio Grande and hike to the top of a mountain peak. In the fall the Rio Grande National Forest abounds with trophy deer and elk just waiting to be discovered by hunters.
If you want a more localized activity try golfing at the top rated Rio Grande Club Golf Course. Imagine hitting the ball and watching it sail forever through the clear crisp mountain air. Family activities abound in South Fork throughout the summer and fall. Rodeos, street dances, fireworks, arts and crafts fairs and farmers markets are but a few events that culminate with the annual Logger Day’s Festival. Watch and feel the excitement as competitors use old time skills to chop and saw their way to be crowned “King of the Woods.”
As fall arrives, the breathtaking aspens change their colors to gold, orange and red. The final hurrah before the winter blanket of snow heralds the fun of skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiles.
South Fork: Small Town. World Class Adventure.
Fishing You are sure to find all the fishing you can handle with over 30 miles of the Rio Grande River designated as “Gold Medal”. Plus more than 13 lakes and a multitude of streams available within 20 minutes of town. Winter also abounds with fishing on several lakes in the area the most popular locations are Beaver Creek Reservoir or Big Meadows.
Summitville Gold Mines Located 11,000ft above sea level Summitville has had a rough 100-year history, which has given forth more than 7.5 million dollars, worth of gold silver lead and copper. During its hay days this town and mine had six processing mills, stores, saloons, boarding houses, homes, a school and slaughter house. However, today the site is home to a multi-million dollar cleanup; resulting from high levels of cyanide and arsenic in the soil, which was once used to extract the gold. Due to health dangers there is no direct access to the site, but visitors can still see the remnants of the mine and the buildings.
Wolf Creek Ski Area Here visitors can enjoy downhill skiing and snowboarding on 1600 acres of terrain for beginners and experienced downhill skiers, and snowboarders. Wolf Creek has 5 lifts, 50 trails and plenty of back-country for the adventurous. Several sport shops are available in the area for rentals, equipment, clothing and novelties.
Rio Grande National Forest Covering nearly 2-million acres of public lands on the eastern slope of the Continental Divide, the Rio Grande National Forest is the perfect setting for fishing, scenic driving tours, mountain biking, hiking/backpacking, hunting, photography and pure relaxation.
Color in the High Country in the Fall should Not be Missed! 2.5 million acres of glorious back-country provide an unrivaled tour of fall colors! There are no crowds in South Fork, making it a great destination for peace and quiet with spectacular views. Head out in your touring car, ATV, jeep or mountain bike! Hike through the shimmering golden forests, or fish your way down the aspen-bordered Rio Grande! Maps and itineraries are available from the Visitor Center, or from our downloadable App or Vacation Guide. Our favorite car tour is the Silver Thread Scenic & Historic Byway!
Silver Thread Scenic Byway The Silver Thread Scenic Byway is 75 miles of breathtaking scenery, history, & wildlife viewing. The Byway ribbons over the Continental Divide through the quaint & historic communities of South Fork, Creede, and Lake City. A mile post guide book of the Byway and its points of interest are available along the route.
Snowmobiling Whether you rent or bring your own machine, you will find over 255 miles of groomed and marked snowmobile trails courtesy of our two snowmobile clubs, plus plenty of open meadows and steep hill climbs, for both beginners and advanced riders. Guide services are available in the area. Other winter activities include: Snowshoeing, Sleigh rides, Sledding, and Snowcat tours. For more information on trail conditions, snow levels, and group rides please contact the Powder Busters or the Silver Thread Outdoor Recreation Club. FREE TRAIL MAPS ARE AVAILABLE!
Hunting in South Fork is classified as BIG In the early fall, the public lands around South Fork are extremely popular with bow, black powder and rifle hunters in search of the perfect elk, buck or big horn sheep. Whether it be a ‘guys trip’ to the mountains, a father-daughter educational expedition, or a chance to explore the National Forest on horseback, hunting in the area is always an adventure! Local guides and supply stores offer tips about licensing, hot-spots, and more. Lodging provides a soft place to land after a full day in the back country!
Hunting not only provides people with a unique recreational experience, but also works as an important wildlife management tool. Over-the-counter licenses are available for many species, but most have a limited season and/or bag limits. For more info on our three hunting units (76, 79 and 80), visit the Colorado Parks & Wildlife website at cpw.state.co.us.
Ice Climbing A relatively new sport to the area, many enjoy climbing on any of the waterfalls in the area as well as ice walls that form on the rocks located on Wolf Creek pass.
Four-Wheeling (Jeeps, ATV’s, Dirtbikes) Surrounded by 2 million acres of National Forest opportunity abounds with endless miles of forest service roads and trails to wander down. ATV’s and dirt bikes can also find adventure on any of the 8 trails located in the area. Please consult a current forest service map for open roads and trails. The Silver Thread Outdoor Recreation Club takes group rides from the South Fork Visitors Center. They welcome anyone to join them on a ride for great scenery, friendship and tons of fun. FREE TRAIL MAPS ARE AVAILABLE. However, we also strongly recommend serious travelers purchase a Rio Grande Forest Service map for the most current details.
Golf With 2 courses in Rio Grande County and several others in the neighboring communities you are sure to find a hole in one any day of the week from May to October. The Rio Grande Club located in South Fork is a semi private/public 18 hole championship course- amenities include driving range, pro-shop, fitness and exercise facilities, putting green, restaurant and bar. Monte Vista Golf Course is a municipal 9-hole regulation course with driving range, club rentals, pro-shop, lessons, RV-sites and memberships.Miniature Golf is open to the public at Apple Lodge B & B in Del Norte & Goodnights Lonesome Dove in South Fork.
Rafting Choose either a gentle, smooth ride on slow moving waters, or the excitement of white water, all of which can be found along the Rio Grande River. No matter what you pick, you are insured breath taking views. Guided raft trips are offered by Mountain Man Rafting on class I and II rapids. Unguided float trips are also offered Rocky Mtn. Ski & Raft, and Spruce Lodge.