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Pagosa Ranger district announces campground closures

According to Elizabeth Reid of the U.S. Forest Service, Pagosa Ranger District, two area campgrounds are now closed to public use, two more will close next week and several others will close by Oct. 31.

In a report issued last Friday, Reid said the popular Bridge and East Fork campgrounds are now closed for the 2010 camping season. The Bridge Campground is located on the west bank of the Piedra River about three miles south of Williams Creek Reservoir, while the East Fork Campground is on the east fork of the San Juan River, about half-a-mile east of U.S. 160. Both were managed by campground hosts throughout the summer.

The Williams Creek and West Fork campgrounds will close Wednesday. Williams Creek, of course, is located at the reservoir with the same name and was also managed by a campground host this year. The reservoir and campground are located approximately 23 miles north of Pagosa Springs.

The West Fork Campground is a mile-and-a-half off U.S. 160, about 13.5 miles east of town. Tucked into the forest off the West Fork Road (FR 648), it’s about a mile past the Wolf Creek Campground. A campground host managed this lightly-used encampment until yesterday, but now relies on a self-pay “fee tube” for the final week of fee collections.

The Cimarrona Campground and Palisades Horse Camp are nestled into the forest a couple of miles north of Williams Creek Reservoir (along FR 640), while the Teal Campground is at the reservoir, a mile north of Williams Creek Campground. FR 640 ends at Palisades, where backcountry travelers venture into the Weminuche Wilderness on foot or horseback.

All three campgrounds will close at the end of October, with Palisades managed by a host until then, and Teal hosted until Oct. 1. Through October, the Forest Service will employee a self-pay fee tube at Teal, while the agency utilizes the same at Cimarrona throughout.

The Ute and Lower Piedra campgrounds are 18 and 25 miles west of Pagosa Springs, respectively. Both are just north of U.S. 160, with the Ute located just west of the Colo. 151 turnoff, and the Lower Piedra situated on the west bank of the Piedra River. Hosts manage both, and both will close Oct. 31. The Lower Piedra may close sooner if no hunters camp there.

The Blanco River Campground will also close Oct. 31 or sooner, depending on whether hunters utilize it between now and then. Situated on the banks of the Blanco River, the encampment is two miles east of U.S. 84, and approximately 15 miles southeast of Pagosa Springs. A self-pay fee tube allows campers to submit overnight fees there.

Nightly camping fees are $16 in all campgrounds except at Palisades Horse Camp and Williams Creek. A night at Palisades costs campers $20 to $25, while Williams Creek ranges between $16 and $20. Camping in a single national forest site is limited to 14 days.