mountain lion

  • utechimneyrockThe Ute Campground is 17 miles west of Pagosa Springs on U.S. Highway 160 and campground is on north side of the highway. Ute Campground has 26 campsites on a gentle, south-facing slope. Ponderosa pines give shade, but the area gets very warm in summer.

    The hillside above the campground offers excellent views of the pinnacles of Chimney Rock Archaeological Area.

    When one pulls into Ute Campground for the first time, it might be easy to underestimate this lovely and unique campground and habitat.  We had the pleasure of camp hosting here for a season, along with a neaby waterfront campground at Lower Piedra.  

    The camp is set on a gentle slope and has 26 campsites, four of which are tent only.  The tent sites are a bit more secluded, and while they are under the amazing Ponderosas that cover the grounds with a green canopy, the sites border a gorgeous, flower-filled mountain meadow.  From that meadow campers get night sky views that just don't quit.  Just across the highway in the Southern Ute Nation, campers can see Chimney Rock framed against the vast Colorado skyline.  

    The sites are large, shaded, mostly level, and well spaced so campers can have privacy.  There are two old school vault toilets on the grounds, garbage service, and potable water.  The caveat here is that while you can drink the water, it does have a strong sulfer smell.  We cautioned campers about putting the water into tanks and water jugs.  

    The wildlife was abundant here throughout the season.  We saw our first Mountain Lion here - talk about developing some respect for our surroundings! In May, the grounds were covered in Mule Deer and Elk.  Hummingbirds, Nuthatches (they sound like a tree full of squeaker toys), and Magpies fill the trees.  A squirrel we had never seen before, the Aberts Squirrel, would chase along with the cart, little tufted ears making it the cutest thing.  Much cuter than the baby rattlesnakes we say and heard.  Yes, there are rattlesnakes.  Nothing we could do about that except use an abundance of caution.  We also had a bull snake, Benny, who lived in our host camp site and he was a friendly looking, very chill snake.  We think he kept the nasty rattlesnake out of our area.  As fall approached, the meadow filled with wild turkeys and skunks that gently marched through the flowers.

    Ute Campground is a great launching ground for hiking, ATV/off-roading, river sports, Chimney Rock, hunting, and much more.  Durango and Pagosa Springs are both beautiful San Juan Mountain towns with great food, beverages, historic downtowns, trains, hot springs, and shopping.  Make sure you stop in at Ute Campground, even if it is just for a picnic - truly an amazing camping experience!