Head Waters of the Rio

By Lyndsie Ferrell

CREEDE- Solitude. Silence. Serenity. It’s the same story on every day for the area around the headwaters of the Rio Grande river. As one of the longest rivers in Colorado, the Rio has its origins in the desolate wilderness in the southwest part of the state, merely miles from the historic mountain town of Creede. As it slithers its way through high mountain meadows, down sharp rocky cliffs, it offers a mind blowing fishing experience along the way. With over twenty small tributaries, the river is home to many species of aquatic life. Brown, rainbow and cutthroat trout call this clear, clean river home.

Rio Grande reservoir is nestled into a wide valley surrounded by the San Juan mountain range. The birth place of the Rio Grande recently celebrated one hundred years of Colorado recreation. The dam is in the first stages of restoration, which once finished, will allow the reservoir to be filled to maximum capacity several times throughout the year. The lake is also surrounded by several campgrounds offering some of the most beautiful campsites in the area. Most camp grounds are host to tents and large motor homes alike, with somewhat easy access to the the vast reservoir.

Fishing, Yes! Prime Colorado fishing can be found all along the smoothly flowing river and along the banks of the reservoir. Plus, there is no need to stop there when avid Anglers can wander along the twenty tributaries as they make their way down stream. From Brookies to large lake trout the Rio Grande river and reservoir offer optimum fishing conditions. Bald eagles join the hunt as they swoop low above the water and grab the trophy fish, calling out high upon the air as they take their prize to a nest on top of forty foot pines that sway in the breeze.

One of the easiest things to do along the Rio, is to find one’s self alone, listening to the rapids as they flow all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico. The soft clack of the stones near the shore as the water moves them in an endless dance. Some wish to step away from every day stress brought on by constant, intrusive reminders of work and no play. Here, along the Rio, most technological devises can't even get service, which makes stepping away that much easier. Sit back, relax and delve into the mystery of the Rio as it gives and takes life with each restless breath of its Colorado waters.

After a retreat from the real world some like to add some spice to their vacations along the Rio with an exciting ride down the rapids. Several white water rafting trips  can either keep you on the edge of your seat or take a leisurely stroll as some toss the lines into the deeper waters for the larger catch. Mountain Man Rafting, now in South Fork,  offers full or half day,  long trips along the Rio. Bring a lunch or light snack and hold on for a thrilling experience. Many find that rafting the Rio gives them a sense of life that was once inhibited and preserved, a place where nature can be herself and show those seeking it her ultimate treasures.

Two years ago, devastation struck the area in the form of a massive forest fire. One of the largest wildfires in Colorado history; the flames ripped through the area destroying over 100,000 acres of forest. Some veered away from the area in the after math of the fire, staying at bay as they watched the towns recover in the face of a storm. Little do people know that no, there is a world of unique beauty in the charred landscape above and around the Rio Grande reservoir. The scenery is a landscape of charred blackened trees, luscious green shrubs, and bright purple flowers sprinkled upon the ground. An entire new forest is forming itself around the damage caused by the fire and it is a sight sure to steal anyone's breath away. The Rio survived, the fishing is prime and the beauty in the hidden folds of tragedy will combine for an untethered memory.

While you are visiting the Reservoir, you may choose to wander a bit to the surrounding area and discover Lost Trail Ranch; a guest ranch completely off-grid, or take in one of the nearby trails; Lost Trail Creek, Ute Creek Trail and the Weminuche Trail.

While traveling down from Rio Grande reservoir towards Creede you will find gift and tackle shops as well as eateries; The Studios at Bristol which features the handwoven works of Teri D. Inman and other artists; Freemon’s offers fantastic burgers and supplies, or stop in at Antlers for a special gift or a night of dinner overlooking the river. Take it slow as you drive the bumpy road leading from the reservoir and not for a smoother ride but rather for the chance to glimpse the wildlife hunkering on the side of the road. Dear Mr.Hedgehog can usually be seen basking in the sun on any given day or a fuzzy rabbit will hop out to greet travelers as they mosey by. Even the occasional buck with his new set of horns can been seen munching on sweet grass in a nearby meadow.

No matter where, no matter what, the Rio is a prime location for solitude, silence and serenity. People find themselves in a place like this; even if they had no intentions of getting lost it can happen. Step away from what is known and tap into a piece of Colorado mystery, beauty and perseverance. Grab a chance to find something all your own while dancing along the Rio.

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Creede & Mineral County Visitor Center & Chamber of Commerce

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Creede CO 81130
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