DIANE BIGLEY

Part-time residents and fifth-generation natives. Mountain peaks and foothills. Cattle ranches and chicken farms. Majestic elk country and cougar territory. 

Pagosa Country is a land of variety and contrasts — geographic and cultural. 

And the little town of Chromo is a microcosm of the binary observances this land holds. 

Chromo is not a far drive from Pagosa Springs; just take U.S. 84 south for 24 miles. And the drive, though short, is full of fun destinations and picturesque viewpoints. 

About three miles south of town, you’ll see Echo Lake on your right hand side with its exciting cold- and warm-water fishery. Drive only a couple of miles more, and look to your right. There will be a large sign for the Rocky Mountain Wildlife Park, home to an array of live animals typical of local wildlife, including black bears, a grizzly bear, mountain lions, wolves, coyote, foxes, bobcats and elk. Don’t be scared; pull over and take the time to gander at the wondrous creatures that call Pagosa Country home. 

After leaving the wildlife park, if you continue south, you will pass the entrances to several side roads — many of them dead end, but all offer an opportunity for more spectacular Pagosa Country mountain vistas.

The turnoff for Forest Service Road 656 leading to the Upper Blanco River Basin is about 7 miles south of town, and about 10 miles south of town is Forest Service Road 652A leading to the Lower Blanco River Basin.

If you continue south along U.S. 84, you’ll enjoy the winding drive through Halfway Canyon and on to wide-open Coyote Park. Much of this portion of the road retraces the pioneer stagecoach route into town. If you look closely, you’ll see the bed of a narrow gauge railroad track long since abandoned. 

You could turn right at Coyote Park onto County Road 392. This will take you to the historic rail hub of Edith. If you continue on, you’ll make it to Lumberton in New Mexico, the old stagecoach destination.

After leaving Coyote Park, you cross a small mountain range. At the top of the range is another dead-end road leading east to Buckles and Harris lakes. Finally, after driving past some awesome green horse pastures, you cross the Navajo River and find yourself in Chromo.

While in Chromo, drive a few miles up County Road 382 for a close look at Navajo Peaks, one of the most highly acclaimed camera points in Archuleta County.

Chromo is one of the best places in Pagosa Country for gaining access to the South San Juan Wilderness Area. During spring and fall, when elk and deer are migrating to and from the high country, a number of migration routes cross the road. Stay alert for elk or deer on the road, but also keep an eye out to the side to catch a majestic sight of the elk or deer running with their herd. If you get a chance while in Pagosa Country, visit Chromo. Allow plenty of time, because there is plenty to see.