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South Fork Mineral Creek

San Juan Mountains

San Juan Mountains, Colorado

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South Fork Mineral Creek
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  • View of the creek and the road next to it from the mountains on the other side of the valley.- South Fork Mineral Creek
  • South Fork Mineral Creek behind the South Mineral Campground.- South Fork Mineral Creek
  • Clear Creek from the South Mineral Campground.- South Fork Mineral Creek
  • Yellow leaves swirl in eddy currents in South Fork Mineral Creek.- South Fork Mineral Creek
  • Beautiful spot along the creek with leaves starting to change at the end of the summer.- South Fork Mineral Creek
  • Another view of a beautiful spot along the creek.- South Fork Mineral Creek
  • Birds-eye view of the creek and the road (the campground is about a mile away and behind the trees).- South Fork Mineral Creek
  • Awesome double waterfall with willows starting to turn yellow at the end of the summer.- South Fork Mineral Creek
  • Close view of the waterfall.- South Fork Mineral Creek
  • This is what it looks like from within the falls.- South Fork Mineral Creek
  • Aerial view of the creek and a photographer.- South Fork Mineral Creek
  • Panoramic view of the waterfall.- South Fork Mineral Creek
  • Turquoise water contrasts against the red riverbed rock and yellow leaves.- South Fork Mineral Creek
  • Sunset behind the creek.- South Fork Mineral Creek
  • Water drop under the sunset.- South Fork Mineral Creek
  • Sunset looking back toward the campground.- South Fork Mineral Creek
  • Moonrise above the creek.- South Fork Mineral Creek
  • The moon sets behind the mountains and over the creek.- South Fork Mineral Creek
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Beautiful waterfalls. Great mountain views.
Cons: 
Long drive from Denver.
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Region:
San Juan Mountains, CO
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Contributor

If you are visiting the area or staying at the South Mineral Campground, you will not regret spending a few hours exploring South Fork Mineral Creek. The water is a deep turquoise as a result of the rock powder suspended in it that comes from glacier erosion over thousands of years. The blue water contrasts over the red riverbed rock, and in fall, the yellow willows and shrubs add to the palette and provide plenty of photo opportunities.

The best way to explore the creek is by hiking southwest from the campground. Be ready to get in the water and cross to either side. The first step is to cross the smaller Clear Creek, then to continue the hike along South Fork Mineral Creek. Along the way there are waterfalls and pools where the currents form interesting patterns. Of particular interest is a double waterfall just under a mile from the campground. 

Alternatively, it is possible to drive along NF-585 following the creek southwest from the campground. There are several spots to park for a walk down to the creek. Note that after the first 1.5 miles from the campground the road becomes very rocky, thus a high-clearance vehicle is required, preferably one with four-wheel drive. After almost 3 miles on the road you will pass an old mine claim, crossing the creek on a wide spot, and reach the road's end; there is a good area to camp, though there are no restrooms there. East of the campground there are spots to camp and fish, and there are also beautiful views of the creek from US-550.

Wildlife in the area include deer, elk, and moose, though be aware that moose can be aggressive, especially during the rut, so keep a safe distance.

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Nearby Camping + Lodging

(8 within a 30 mile radius)

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(30 within a 30 mile radius)

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