A small Pine River Valley town offering access to lakes, wilderness, forests, and camping in southwest Colorado.
In the heart of the Pine River Valley between Durango and Pagosa Springs, Bayfield is set downstream from the secluded Lake Vallecito, a draw for anglers, boaters, and other water enthusiasts. The town is well placed for accessing the rugged Weminuche Wilderness and San Juan National Forest, where you’ll find a range of wildlife and camping options, from dispersed to developed. Ancient Puebloan archaeological sites are also nearby. The fun doesn't stop in winter, when ice fishing, skiing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing are popular.
West Just west of Bayfield, Durango offers plenty of cultural and outdoor activities, plus camping options from RV parks to San Juan National Forest campgrounds. Discover the Ancient Puebloan cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde National Park, and stay at the seasonal park campground. Nearby, Mancos State Park offers a lake and woods, along with forested and lakeside campgrounds and yurts. Private RV parks and forest service campgrounds can be found near Mancos, Cortez, Dolores, including within the McPhee Reservoir Recreation Area. Continue west through high desert on your way to Four Corners Monument, where Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah meet. North Head north to enjoy fishing and boating on Lake Vallecito, or take the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad from Durango to the historic mining town of Silverton. Colorado’s largest wilderness, Weminuche Wilderness, is located just north of Bayfield, and offers excellent backpacking and backcountry camping options, though the surrounding San Juan National Forest also offers developed campgrounds, in addition to 1.8 million acres of forest and wilderness, peaks, and canyons to explore. For even more forest, head east for the Rio Grande National Forest, with similar options for camping. East Head east to explore the ruins of ancient Puebloan dwellings in the Chimney Rock Archaeological Area. Further east, enjoy hot springs and the San Juan River at Pagosa Springs. Nearby Wolf Creek Resort is known for receiving the “most snow in Colorado.” Enjoy excellent fishing at South Fork and the Rio Grande River, or drive along the Silver Thread Byway to the historic towns of Creede and Lake City. Further south, enjoy all water activities at Navajo Lake, with Navajo State Park on the Colorado side, and Navajo Lake State Park on the New Mexico side, and several campgrounds on both sides.
Bayfield is at its busiest in the summer, when the weather is most pleasant for outdoor activities. Fishing can be enjoyed year-round, though the area is known for an ice fishing tournament in February and the salmon run in late fall. Many year-round public campgrounds offer limited or no services between September and May. Chimney Rock National Monument is open from May 15 to October 15.
- Bayfield is situated at nearly 7,000 feet. Other recreation areas and campsites in the region are at even higher elevations. Be aware of potential altitude issues. - Campsites in national forests are often first-come first-serve, while campsites in Colorado state parks require advanced reservations. - Motorized and mechanized vehicles are prohibited in designated wilderness areas. - Be bear aware, especially when camping. Store food and other attractants in a bear proof container, away from your tent. - Fishing licenses are required in Colorado for anyone over age 16.