What to Bring on your Adventure in the Woods
The National Forest around Pagosa Springs is a big space… and we mean big! With over 3 million acres of wilderness and national forest surrounding the town, there is plenty of space to explore! If you want to go exploring in the San Juan National Forest or the Weminuche Wilderness, you should prepare for a variety of weather, terrain, and wildlife interactions! This post should outline the basic gear you should bring when exploring anywhere in the United States; and some essentials specific to this area. Let’s get into it!
- Water – Water is at the top of this list for a reason. Water is important no matter where you are or what you are doing. It becomes more important as you gain altitude because it helps combat the headaches and dizziness associated with altitude sickness. I try to carry at least 2- 32oz Nalgene bottles for a day in the forest so I know I have enough!
- Shoes & Clothing – The weather in this part of the country can change drastically in a matter of a couple hours. In July it can be 90 degrees at Noon and 55 degrees and pouring rain by 3pm! This makes it extra important to wear layers and pack the appropriate clothing for the conditions. I try to always bring a jacket and rain poncho or full rain suit when I want to spend more than an hour or two in the woods. As far as footwear goes I highly recommend wearing boots that provide good ankle support. These kinds of boots can prevent ankle sprains; a big deal when you are alone and away from civilization! Waterproof boots are also a good choice if you like exploring in the rain. Waterproof boots will be warmer due to lack of ventilation; something to consider if your feet tend to get hot.
- Cutting Tool – A cutting tool in the woods has a million uses. Whether you need to get a splinter out of your finger, cut a string from your shirt, or cut a tree branch to fashion a splint, a good pocket knife or multitool is essential in an outdoor emergency. I never go exploring without one! A multitool has the advantage over a normal pocket knife because they usually have several different tools and even a pair of pliers built in! I personally carry and recommend Leatherman multitools.
- Map & Compass – While you don’t necessarily need a map and compass to start exploring, it’s a good idea to bring them along! A map and compass can help you find your bearings if you find yourself lost. You can also use them to mark landmarks that you want to visit again later! A simple compass can be bought for $15-20 and is light enough to always bring with you. As far as maps go, I recommend going into the Forest Service office and asking for maps for the specific areas you want to explore! They will even have topo maps that show elevation so you can see how steep your route will be.
- Food – You need energy to explore and food gives you energy! I always try to bring high-energy snacks to keep me going throughout the day. Protein bars, trail mix, jerky, fruit, etc are all great, compact snacks that will keep you up in energy. Be sure to bring a ziplock bag or similar to keep your trash in until you can properly dispose of it. Do not litter!!
- Fire – It can get cold at night in this part of the country, even in the middle of summer. If you get lost or injured in the woods and have to spend the night you are going to want some way to build a fire! I think a Bic or similar rugged lighter is the bare minimum you should bring on your outdoor adventures. These are pressurized so they work outdoors and they rarely leak fuel. If you have a little more room for gear, I would also bring a flint and steel in addition to the lighter. This leaves you with two viable options for starting an emergency fire. Be sure you know how to properly build a fire before heading out!
- First Aid – The San Juan and Weminuche Wilderness is a rugged terrain with some extremely remote areas. If you get hurt way up in the woods it can be nearly impossible for help to make it to you! Carrying a well-equipped first aid kit can allow you to take care of minor injuries by yourself until you are able to make it to civilization! It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with all of the components of your first aid kit and how they work. You can even print instructions to keep in the kit! I recommend Adventure Medical Kits if you are wanting a good pre-built first aid kit.
- Sun Protection – Pagosa Springs and surrounding wilderness areas are very high in elevation compared to most of the United States. Pagosa Springs is sitting at 7,126ft above sea level and most of the places you’ll be exploring will be higher. Being higher than sea level also means you are closer to the sun and sunburn can be a serious issue! If you know you are going to be in the sun a lot I would recommend wearing long shirts and pants or using a good sunscreen. It’s no fun wearing a hiking backpack with burnt shoulders… trust me!
These are some of the most important pieces of gear that you should carry with you in the woods! Whether you are running out for an hour in the woods or planning a weeklong excursion, these will help you make it home safely! If all this talk of exploring is too exciting to ignore, give us a call at 970.507.8655 and we can help you find a place to stay in Southwest Colorado!
Be Prepared This Winter! Pack an Emergency Kit.
Driving in snow can be unpredictable and sometimes dangerous; 17% of all car accidents occur in winter weather conditions! It is important to be prepared for whatever is thrown your way, whether you hit ice and slide into a ditch or your car breaks down. We recommend keeping a basic emergency kit in your car at all times so you are prepared if something happens. This list covers the basics on what you need!
Emergency Kit Essentials:
- First Aid Kit – A first-aid kit is something you should always keep in your car. While it won’t help with major medical issues, you can at least bandage any scrapes or cuts! If you are prescribed any medication, keep some labeled in your first aid kit in case you are stranded.
- Flashlight – It is really, really dark at night during a snow storm! Pack a good flashlight or headlamp in your emergency kit. This can be extremely useful if you need to work on your car in the dark. USB charging is a big plus on these!
- Ice Scraper – Your car’s defroster doesn’t always work as quickly or as well as it needs to. Put an ice scraper in your kit so you can clear your windshield in icy conditions. Low visibility through your windshield can be very dangerous!
- Jumper Cables – The rest of your car emergency kit isn’t much good if you can’t start the car! Jumper cables allow you to start your car with a dead battery using another car. These can be really helpful year-round. Just be sure you’re putting them on correctly, or you risk damaging the electrical components in your car.
- Snow Shovel – This one is pretty straightforward… If you are stuck in the snow, a snow shovel can help you get out. You don’t need a full size shovel in your emergency kit, smaller shovels are made for this specific purpose!
- Bag Of Cat Litter – The main reason cars get stuck in the snow is lack of traction. If you find yourself in a position where your tires are spinning on ice or snow you can simply sprinkle cat litter behind the tire to add traction! We recommend keeping at least a couple gallons bagged up, as you may go through a lot!
- Cell Phone Charger – Your phone is pretty much useless without a charge! Keep a car charger and a portable battery charged up in your car to be sure you’re never stuck with a dead phone. It’s also a good idea to keep your emergency contact numbers written down somewhere in your car, so you can still call them on someone else’s phone.
- Water – Dehydration can be a serious problem if you are stranded. Keep at least a gallon of water in your emergency kit. Keep in mind water expands when it is frozen, so if you’re filling your own container leave some room at the top.
- Blanket – Winter is cold! Pack at least one good, thick blanket to keep you warm if you need to stay in your car. If you have room for a second blanket, pack a tough one that you could lay on under your car if needed during repairs. Military wool blankets work well for everything.
- Tool Kit – Just like the first-aid kit, a basic tool kit can be useful year-round! From small repairs to tire changes, there are many uses for tools. If your car requires any special tools (European cars often use Torx bolts) be sure to pack those into your tool kit.
- Roadside Reflectors – Breaking down on the side of the road can put you at risk of being hit by passing drivers; especially in low visibilty scenarios like a winter storm! Roadside reflectors or road triangles help other drivers know where you are and that you may need assistance. They take up little room and are definitely a good item to keep with you.
- Non-Perishable Food – If you are stranded in your car, you will probably need an energy boost at some point. Keep non-perishable snacks such as granola bars, dehydrated fruits, and jerky in your emergency kit for that little extra energy kick! Don’t forget to rotate snacks out every few months so you are never stuck with bad food.
- Matches/Lighter – Matches or a lighter can provide you with some light and warmth in an emergency. Pack waterproof matches so they can’t be ruined by moisture. Disposable lighters such as a bic or clipper lighter are best as they won’t leak fluid and they work in cold conditions.
- Insulated Work Gloves – If you need to work on your car in the snow, you are probably going to want a good pair of gloves! Insulated work gloves are the best choice for an emergency kit. They will keep you warm and hold up to any abuse you throw at them.
This list should give you a good base to build your own emergency kit from! Winter driving can be treacherous so we hope this kit can help you this winter season! If you are reading this wishing you lived somewhere snowy, give us a call at (970) 507-8655 and we can help you find your Next Home in the mountains! Don’t forget to like us on Facebook for NextHome updates and our bi-weekly virtual open house series.
Smoken Moe’s Unreal BBQ
Smoken Moe’s Unreal BBQ was established in 2006 in Ignacio, CO and moved to Pagosa Springs in 2012. Known for some of the best BBQ this side of Texas, Smoken Moe’s is a great place to beat the cold and sit down for a warm meal! Moe’s offers pit-smoked barbeque smothered in signature sauces, perfect to warm you up! They also offer catering and you can even order food by the pound to bring the barbeque home! The menu has plenty of options, so you are sure to find something great to eat!
With everything going on in the world, it is more important than ever to support your local businesses! Whether you’re going out to a local restaurant for lunch or buying gifts for Christmas, shopping local helps your community thrive and grow. If you would like to talk to one of our real estate experts, give us a call at (970) 507-8655! You can also like us on Facebook for NextHome RMR updates!
Covered In Snow!
It snowed in Colorado this past weekend… A lot! Wolf Creek Pass received 14 inches of powder overnight, and Pagosa Springs woke up to steady snowfall! With snow starting to fall, now is the time to prepare your home for winter. Check our Winter Prep Guide out to see what you should do to prepare for winter!
It isn’t too cold to sell your home or buy a dream home! Give us a call at (970) 507-8655 to talk to a Southwest Colorado real estate expert! If you would like to look at our current listings in Pagosa Springs and surrounding areas, click here!
Wildfire Defensible Buffer Zones
Wildfire Buffer Zones can be used to reduce fire damage to buildings and sensitive areas in landscapes prone to wildfire. This guide from the USDA National Agroforestry Center shows what you can do to to increase the defensible space around your home and property. If you have any additional questions regarding wildfire safety, see the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control’s website here.
Zone 1. A minimum of 30 feet is needed for firefighters to protect a structure from wildfire. On a slope, increase the distance to 100 feet downhill of the structure. Use low growing and low flammability plants, spaced apart from each other. Remove dead material.
Zone 2. Deciduous trees and shrubs and widely-spaced conifers may be used in Zone 2. Remove branches within 8 feet of the ground (but no more than 30 percent of the height of the tree) and space trees so that crowns remain at least 10 feet apart at maturity. Remove ladder fuels which are tree limbs and other materials that allow fire to burn into the tree crown.
Zone 3. Manage this zone to maintain forest stand health and other landowner objectives. Limit number of dead trees or snags but save some for wildlife (1 to 2 snags/acre). Check with your local forester for additional guidelines.
Characteristics of Low Flammability Plants
• Supple moist leaves and water-like, thin sap
• Little or no accumulation of dead vegetation on the plant
• Open and loose branching structure
If you liked this post be sure to check our others out here! We would love to help you find your Next Home. Give us a call at (970) 507-8655 to talk to a Southwest Colorado expert! You can view our current featured listings here.
Why Living In The Mountains Is Healthier
It’s easy to fall in love with the mountains. Fresh air is abundant, the weather is fairly temperate, and the views are some of the best mother nature has to offer. Living in the mountains can actually be healthier for you too, believe it or not. If you don’t believe me, here are a few facts to convince you!
- Inspiration To Be Active – The rocky mountains are inspirational simply by nature. The peaks tower over everything else, begging to be seen. When you are surrounded by views as beautiful as the rocky mountains, you are sure to become inspired to explore and be active!
- Altitude Burns Calories – Studies have proven that the human body burns more calories while expending energy at high altitude than it does while at lower altitudes. This means that a mile hike in the mountains will burn more calories than the same hike down lower; plus you get to enjoy the mountain views!
- Clean Air – There’s nothing better than taking a deep breath of fresh mountain air. Less pollution at higher altitudes can directly improve asthma symptoms and other acute respiratory symptoms. The smell of pine, which is especially common in the rockies, has been proven to help alleviate stress and depression. If you have trouble sleeping, try to find some lavender at the base of the pines. It can help you fall asleep!
- Less Risk Of Heart Disease – Studies have shown that people who live at higher altitudes can have a certain gene activated that significantly decreases the risk of dying from ischemic heart disease. When your body has to work harder every day to take in oxygen, it automatically improves your cardiovascular fitness! This makes your heart stronger and more resilient to rough conditions.
- Statistically Longer Life Span – Researchers have found that the 10 million people who live over 4,900ft above sea level typically live one to three years longer than people living closer to sea level. This is just another benefit of living at high altitude!
Thanks for reading through today’s post! If you have any questions, or if you would like to talk with a NextHomie, give us a call at (970) 507-8655. To view our current listings, see our featured homes page here. We can’t wait to help you find your Next Home.
The Best Drives For Fall Colors
Fall is here, and fall colors aren’t far behind! You can find beautiful scenery just about everywhere in this state, but the roads listed below are some of the best to see the bright yellows and oranges of autumn!
- San Juan Skyway – The San Juan Skyway is one of the most beautiful stretches of road in the country. This 232 mile loop will take you through two National Forests, four mountain passes, and nine historic Colorado mountain towns. It takes roughly 7 hours to drive the loop all the way through, but we recommend taking your time and exploring along the way! Even if you choose to tackle just one section of the loop, you are sure to find large swathes of fall colors and beautiful scenery. Most of this drive is 2wd-friendly, but some parts may require higher clearance. If you are scared of heights, be warned there are some steep drop-offs as well as sections of road without guardrails in several spots on this drive.
- Boreas Pass – Boreas Pass Road stretches the 20 miles between Como and Breckenridge. This easily-accessible mountain road reaches 11,493 feet above sea level and eventually crosses the Continental Divide! This wonderful road has less traffic than others during the fall, making it a great area to see the colors change without crowds. The aspens on this road may form a tunnel in certain spots, making for a truly amazing view. This road is easily accessible by 2wd vehicles with low ground clearance.
- Kebler Pass – Kebler Pass is an awesome high-mountain pass connecting Crested Butte with Paonia to the West. This pass reaches 10,007 feet above sea level at it’s summit in the Gunnison National Forest. This drive takes you through one of the largest aspen groves in the United States, in the West Elk Mountains. You will travel West from Crested Butte to Highway 133, just north of the tiny mining village of Somerset. The road is accessible by low-clearance 2wd vehicles and takes roughly 2 hours to drive through. It is open seasonally, May through November.
- Trail Ridge Road – Trail Ridge Road is a stretch of US Hwy 34 that takes you from the East side of Estes Park to Grand Lake, CO in the West. It is the highest paved through road in Colorado, peaking at 12,183 feet above sea level. 11 miles of this road are above the tree line, making for great, almost aerial views of the autumn colors below. Driving straight through takes roughly 2 hours, but there are enough pull-outs, scenic overlooks, and side trails to make this drive a full daytrip!
- Last Dollar Road – Last Dollar Road is an unpaved, seasonal (Summer & Fall) route that takes you from Ridgeway, CO to Telluride, CO. This trail gives you fully unobstructed views of Wilson Peak and the Sneffels Mountain Range. The fall colors will really start to show around mid-September, making Last Dollar Road a great destination for photographers.
- Independence Pass – Independence Pass, the highest paved pass in the United States, passes over the Continental Divide between Leadville and Aspen. This pass is 32 miles long and summits at 12,095 feet above sea level. There are many places to stop and take in the views along this road. Roaring Fork River hugs the road for several miles and there are also several great aspen grove views along the way.
- Alpine Loop – Alpine Loop is a circular route that takes you over Cinnamon Pass and Engineer Pass. It connects Lake City with Ouray and Silverton. The loop is 65 miles long and can be completed in as little as 7 hours. There are several abandoned mining and old west features along the trail that you can explore; they make for interesting foregrounds in your fall color photos!
- Pikes Peak Highway – Pikes Peak Highway is 19 miles each way and takes about 2 hours round trip to drive. Once to the top, you are greeted with 360 degree views of the mountains, including the front range. Pikes Peak highway is a great place for large panoramas of the changing fall colors!
- Bachelor Loop Tour – The Bachelor Loop Tour is a 17 mile loop that takes you through the historic mining district above Creede, CO. This 4wd-accessible road takes you through several ghost towns from the mining boom, some of which once rivaled Creede in size! There are many photo opportunities along this loop so be sure to bring your camera. High clearance vehicles are recommended for the best experience.
These are just a handful of the hundreds of places to see the Fall colors Colorado is so known for. If you are wanting to plan a trip, but can’t decide when, the Forest Service has a regularly updated Fall Color Report that tells you what stage the leaves are at! If all this talk about Colorado has made you want a home of your own here, you can view our featured listings or give us a call at (970) 507-8655!
Great Sand Dunes National Park
Sometimes staying in the same place for too long can be tiring, especially in the midst of a pandemic. Luckily, Southern Colorado is full of places to explore! If you are having trouble deciding where to go or just looking for somewhere to escape for the day, Great Sand Dunes National Park is a great place to start!
Topping out at around 755 feet high, these impressive sand dunes are the tallest in North America. The dunes are surrounded by the 14,000 ft. peaks of the Sangre De Cristo mountain range, the Southernmost range of the Rocky Mountains. The contrast between the light sand of the dunes and the dark greens and blues of the mountains makes for a truly stunning view. If you like taking photos, you are sure to enjoy this area!
In addition to taking in the views, visitors to the Great Sand Dunes can enjoy hiking and camping all throughout the park, splashing in Medano Creek when it’s flowing, and even sand-boarding and sledding. (Think snowboarding but with sand.) Sand toys are available to rent right before entering the park.
If driving slow offroad is more your speed, the Medano Pass Primitive Road may be for you! This 22 mile 4wd-only trail connects the Great Sand Dunes with Wet Mountain Valley and Colorado State Highway 69. The trail crosses Medano Creek nine times, and also takes you through some deep sand and even Bighorn Sheep habitat at the higher elevations.
Whether you want to backpack in and spend the night, or just pack a picnic and take some photos, Great Sand Dunes National Park makes for a wonderful Southern Colorado day trip! If you would like to see our featured homes in the area, click here. Don’t forget to like NextHome Rocky Mountain Realty & Rentals on Facebook for weekly virtual open houses and more!
A great time to try fishing in Colorado!
The fish are starting to bite at waters all around the state. To give everyone an opportunity to get out and get some hits, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is inviting resident and nonresident anglers of all ages to participate in its annual Free Fishing Weekend on June 6 to 7. The free fishing weekend is a great way to get outside with family and friends and take advantage of Colorado’s extensive opportunities to fish for a myriad of cold and warm water fish species.
Tips & Hotspots
There are many resources that Colorado Parks and Wildlife offers to help those interested in fishing throughout the state:
- Fishing Report– This report offers a weekly fishing report from lakes all around Colorado
- Fishing Atlas– This is an interactive map that shows the many waters people can fish in Colorado
- 101 Places to Take a Kid Fishing– this webpage has an interactive map showing all of the possible places to take a kid fishing
- Stocking Report– The stocking report shows lakes, ponds, and rivers that have been stocked with catchable (9 to 12 inch) trout in Colorado.