Activities and Wildlife at First Fork Piedra River


The First Fork Piedra River offers diverse activities and stunning natural beauty. This tributary of the Piedra River flows through the San Juan National Forest and the Weminuche Wilderness, creating a picturesque landscape that attracts hikers, fly fishers, and nature lovers alike. With its pristine waters, rugged canyons, and abundant wildlife, the First Fork Piedra River is a must-visit destination for those seeking adventure and tranquility in the great outdoors.


  • The First Fork Piedra River offers excellent fly fishing opportunities, with a healthy trout population and scenic river canyons.
  • Hikers can explore the First Fork, Coldwater Creek, Piedra River, and Second Box Canyon Loop, a challenging 11.2-mile trail with diverse landscapes.
  • The area around the First Fork Piedra River is home to various wildlife, including deer, elk, and birds, making it a prime spot for wildlife viewing and nature photography.

Fly Fishing Paradise

The First Fork Piedra River is renowned for its exceptional fly fishing opportunities. It is home to a thriving population of trout, including rainbow, brown, and cutthroat species. Anglers can enjoy the challenge of navigating the river’s varied stream flow and the reward of landing a trophy-sized fish. The best time to fish the First Fork Piedra River is during summer when water levels are more stable, and insect hatches are abundant.

Anglers can hike along the Piedra River Trail #596 to access the prime fishing spots along the First Fork Piedra River. This trail follows the river for several miles, providing access to deep pools, riffles, and runs that hold fish. Check the current fishing conditions and regulations before setting out on your angling adventure.

Hiking and Exploring the Canyons

The First Fork Piedra River is surrounded by stunning canyons and diverse landscapes best explored on foot. Situated in the Weminuche Wilderness, the First Fork, Coldwater Creek, Piedra River, and Second Box Canyon Loop is an 11.2-mile trail that showcases the area’s natural beauty. This challenging hike takes you through river canyons, meadows, and forests, offering breathtaking views and opportunities for wildlife viewing.

To access the trailhead, drive along First Fork Road (FR 622) for approximately 12 miles until you reach the parking area. The trail is well-marked and maintained, but be prepared for some steep and rocky sections. Along the way, you’ll cross several bridges and pass by the confluence of Williams Creek and the Piedra River.

Wildlife Viewing and Nature Photography

The area surrounding the First Fork Piedra River is a haven for wildlife. Visitors can spot deer, elk, and bird species, including eagles and ospreys. The river canyon provides a unique habitat for these animals, and the lush vegetation along the banks attracts a diverse array of creatures.

Nature photographers will find endless inspiration in the First Fork Piedra River’s stunning landscapes and wildlife. From the towering cliffs of the river canyon to the wildflowers that bloom in the meadows, there are countless opportunities to capture the beauty of this natural wonderland. Bring your camera and a telephoto lens to get the best shots of the area’s wildlife.


What is the best time of year to visit the First Fork Piedra River?

The best time to visit the First Fork Piedra River is during the summer, from June to September when the weather is mild and the river conditions favor fishing and hiking.

Are there any camping options near the First Fork Piedra River?

The area has several camping options, including the Lower Piedra Campground and the Piedra Hunter Campground. These campgrounds offer basic amenities and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Do I need a permit to fish or hike in the First Fork Piedra River area?

A valid Colorado fishing license is required for fishing in the First Fork Piedra River. No permits are needed for hiking, but following Leave No Trace principles and respecting the natural environment is essential.

Are there any guided tours available for the First Fork Piedra River?

While guided tours are not common in the area, local outfitters such as Duranglers offer guided fly fishing trips on the Piedra River and its tributaries. These trips provide expert instruction and insight into the best fishing spots and techniques.

Before visiting the First Fork Piedra River, how can I check the current road and trail conditions?

Contact the San Juan National Forest Pagosa Ranger District office to check the current road and trail conditions. They can provide up-to-date information on road closures, trail conditions, and potential hazards.


About the author

James Ranson

I’m an editor, traveler, and fan of the great outdoors. I’ve been to all 48 continental US states, and my drives through Colorado’s rugged peaks and snowy forests (not to mention whiskey tastings in Denver!) still stand out in my memories. I’m excited to use my ten years of editing experience to develop engaging and informative guides and articles that enhance the outdoor experiences of both Colorado residents and visitors. Whether a piece is about exploring the best ski resorts, uncovering scenic trails for hiking, or finding the most inspiring drives through the Colorado Rockies, my aim is to provide comprehensive and accessible content that encourages adventure and exploration.