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Recreation in the San Luis Valley...

*NEW* Travel Management Maps Updated (10/24/2014)

Special Recreation Permit Information


 Map of the BLM Lands in the San Luis Valley

The BLM's San Luis Valley's Field Office has myriad recreation opportunities ranging from camping and hiking to bird watching and rock climbing.

The SLVFO completed a travel management plan in 2010, which restricts motorized and mechanized travel to designated roads, trails and areas.

Click on the map to view larger.

For more information about these or any other recreation opportunities on public lands in the San Luis Valley, contact:

Sean Noonan, BLM Outdoor Recreation Planner 719-852-6267 or





Penitente Canyon Special Recreation Management Area (SRMA)

This SRMA is an internationally recognized climbing area, offering 300 incredible sport climbing routes. The routes tend to be short but challenging and range from 5.2 to 5.13c on the Yosemite Decimal System rating scale. Among the more famous routes are: Los Hermanos de la Weenie Way (5.11c) and Bullet the Blue Sky (5.12c/d), both in inner Penitente Canyon; Forbidden Fruit (5.12a) on the “Whipping Wall” in Penitene Canyon; and Copacetic (5.11b) in the Rock Garden area. An extensive trail system provides superb hiking and mountain biking opportunities as well. 

A developed campground offers tent and camper accommodations next to sheer orange-colored cliffs. Fees for group and single campsites are posted at the fee area. Drinking water is available at the well house near the campground entrance May through October.


  Rock climber

Rio Grande Natural Area

The Natural Area was established in 2006 to conserve, restore and protect the 33-mile stretch of the Rio Grande between the southern end of the Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge to the Colorado- New Mexico state line. The area encompasses both BLM-managed lands along the western banks of the Rio Grande, as well as private lands along the Rio Grande’s eastern banks. Many types of wildlife call the Natural Area home including: prairie, peregrine, Swainson’s, ferruginous and red-tailed hawks; great horned, barn, burrowing and long-eared owls; mule deer; pronghorn antelope; Gunnison prairie dog; northern leopard frog; golden and bald eagle; Rio Grande chub; mountain plover; swift fox; and southwestern willow flycatcher.

Scenic view of the Rio Grande Natural Area

Approximately 35 percent of the natural area is managed by the BLM. The section running through the BLM-managed land is popular with river boaters in May and June. The area offers excellent fishing opportunities and pull-outs with beautiful views of the river as it winds through the dry Fairy and Brownie Hills. A nine-citizen member commission is developing a management plan for the private land within the natural area. What to know more?  Visit our website .


Wintertime and frozen Zapata Falls



Zapata Falls Campground

This new campground sits among pinyon and juniper trees on the lower flanks of the Blanca Peak massif. Incredible views of the San Luis Valley and the San Juan Mountains can be seen from both the campground and nearby Zapata Falls Picnic Area.

A short 1/4 mile trail leads from the picnic area to the beautiful Zapata Falls. For those in good physical condition, the trail continues from the falls up to the high country of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.