Exploring the National Forest

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!

Exploring
Photo Courtesy: Gavin Kiker Photography
  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!!
  6. 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!
  7. 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.
  8. 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!

Sledding In Pagosa

Get Your Sled On This Winter!

With snow falling every other day, and many businesses still closed due to Covid-19, it’s a great time to get some sledding or tubing in! If you are in Pagosa Springs, or are planning a trip up, sledding is a fun way to pass the time!  Sledding involves a lot of time rolling around in the snow; so you really need good waterproof snow gear including gloves and a warm hat. We also recommend proper snow boots, no one wants wet feet! As far as sleds go, there are several styles to choose from, and you really can’t go wrong with one or another!

Sledding
Photo Courtesy: Popular Mechanics

Below is a quick rundown of the sled types and how they function:

  • The Toboggan – Toboggans were originally made from wooden slats with a rope handle. Modern toboggans are made from plastic so they are easy to carry, and some are made to fit more than one person. The main advantage of these sleds over others is the extra capacity and the ability to steer by leaning to one side or the other. This toboggan is highly rated on amazon and can be found in stores in Pagosa!
  • The Sledge – The sledge is what many consider the classic snow sled. Constructed from steel and wood planks, this sled is fast, has a high weight capacity, and is steerable! The main con for this type of sled is the weight; it weighs in around 15lbs! This sled has narrow steel runners, rather than a flat plastic bottom like more modern sleds. This means the sled is not ideal for powder conditions. These sleds have been in production since 1889 and still do great!
  • The Saucer – The saucer is a favorite for many reasons. This disc shaped sled is lightweight and easy to carry, will fit most people, and can reach some impressive speeds in the right conditions! Best of all, they are super cheap to buy! Here is one of the highest rated on amazon. The main con with a saucer sled is the lack of steering control. We recommend these for open areas, not hills with multiple obstacles.
  • The Snow Tube – Snow tubes have gotten popular lately, and for good reason! These tubes are inflatable, so they take up less room than traditional sleds. They are also smoother going down hills than other stiff sleds. We recommend finding one with good handles so you aren’t bounced off the sled at speed! The main disadvantage with these is they aren’t as durable as other sleds; so they aren’t recommended for rougher terrain.

The Best Sledding Hills

We have compiled a small list of the best public spots in Pagosa Springs to go sledding! If you don’t see your favorite spot, reach out to us and we will add it to the list!

  • Reservoir Hill – Located right downtown across from The Springs and behind the Post Office; Reservoir Hill is an awesome place to sled! With multiple short runs to choose from, this spot is perfect for all experience levels. If sledding isn’t your speed, you can snowshoe the trails on Reservoir Hill instead!
  • Lobo Overlook – Lobo Overlook is located right before Wolf Creek Pass if you are coming from Pagosa Springs. While the overlook itself isn’t easily accessible in the winter, the hill next to the parking lot sure is! This spot is super popular due to it’s close proximity to Wolf Creek and the clear steep hill that is accessed easily right from the parking area! Be sure to bring a snack and water, otherwise you will have to wait until you get back into town to find food.
  • National Forest… All 1.8 Million Acres! – Pagosa Springs is blessed to be surrounded by almost 2 MILLION acres of National Forest! This forest is free to access and use, provided you respect the environment and don’t leave messes behind. What this means is you can drive down any forest road and find a spot to sled! Just beware, some private land is mixed in with the public, so be sure you are in the public areas! Most of the forest roads near Pagosa partially close for the winter months, so some walking may be required to find the perfect sledding spot. You can view the current road closures here.

Pagosa Springs is like a snowy wonderland. You could spend all winter sledding, snowboarding or skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and more! Hopefully this post has given you a good idea of where to start! If you are looking for a vacation rental, or something more permanent, give us a call at (970) 507-8655! Don’t forget to like us on Facebook for NextHome RMR updates and virtual open house videos! Humans Over Houses is our motto.

Cut Your Own Christmas Tree

Christmas Trees in The National Forest

For many people, going out to cut down a Christmas Tree is a valued family tradition passed down from generation to generation. It is a great way to bond as a family in our beautiful National Forests. Pagosa Springs has an abundance of tree-cutting areas and opportunity, so you are sure to find the perfect tree for you and your family! The Forest Service provides some excellent guides for identifying trees and cutting them:

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The San Juan National Forest offers permits (priced at $8) to go out and find the perfect tree for your family! Not only will you get a Christmas Tree for the year, but you are also contributing to the conservation of our forests, and fire mitigation as well! If you are unsure where to find a tree, you can contact the Forest Service here and they will answer any questions you may have! *Permits will go on sale November 12, 2020.

Southwest Colorado is a great place to enjoy a snowy Christmas. Give us a call today at (970) 507-8655! We would love to help you find your Next Home!

Wildfire Defensible Space

Wildfire Defensible Buffer Zones

wildfires

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

Source: https://www.fs.usda.gov/nac/buffers/guidelines/5_protection/11.html

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.

Fire Ban Lifted

Campfires Now Legal

With monsoon season now upon us, the San Juan National Forest’s fire danger level has finally dipped down to moderate level. This means you can now have a campfire on your next outdoor adventure. Campfires are a great way to spend a warm summer night in Pagosa Springs, and in order to continue enjoying them,  we’ve put together some general guidelines to follow:

  • Clear 3 feet of ground down to dirt surrounding your campfire.
  • Bring a shovel and water with you, just in case.
  • Keep campfires small; they are much easier to control & put out.
  • Never leave a fire unattended.
  • Insure your campfire is completely out before leaving. If the coals are too hot for you to touch, you shouldn’t leave!

If you would like to see the current fire danger and restrictions, click here.

Following these easy guidelines helps to keep our forests open and healthy!

Campfire
Photo By: Gavin Kiker

 

Free Fishing Weekend – June 6 to June 7, 2020

 

 

Free Fishing Weekend – June 6 to June 7, 2020

                  A great time to try fishing in Colorado!

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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.

https://cpw.state.co.us/free-fishing-weekend

Now Offering ~ Virtual Open House Tours

Come check out our Virtual Open House Tours! We are the first to offer this service in Pagosa Springs. We are very excited to be able to provide this opportunity to you. The first set of homes we will be showcasing, Twincreek Subdivision, Pagosa Trails & Aspen Springs. Facebook Live is where the action will be for the  Virtual Open House Tours on Saturday & Sunday April 19 & 20th starting at 4pm .

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WE DID IT!

Wolf Creek boasts over 400″ in this season’s total snowfall, making it the leader of snowfall in Colorado this year! While closing day was set for April 7, 2019, the mountain will continue to be open on weekends through April 21, 2019. We can’t wait to take advantage of another 3 weeks of bluebird days!

Click on the image below to check out the live cameras on the Wolf Creek slopes!

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Photo Courtesy of WolfCrekSki.com