San Miguel River
Guide

Introduction

The San Miguel River is 81 miles long and runs through the great state of Colorado. It is best known for the variety of water activities that both locals and visitors can enjoy. If you’re a thrill-seeker, you may enjoy a weekend of white water rafting. For those looking for a peaceful and restful getaway, wildlife viewing may be an activity better suited for you.

The ecosystem in the area is unique and beautiful. Whether it’s the wild animals that call San Miguel River home or the special vegetation that grows all around, you won’t find anything else in Colorado quite like it. You can take a scenic drive along the river in the autumn to look at all of the changing leaves. The beginning of the river is near Telluride, Colorado.

As it nears the end, it joins the Dolores River close to Uravan, Colorado. There are several campgrounds along the river that you can stay at year-round. These campgrounds offer beautiful views, low rates, and are managed by the Bureau of Land Management. It’s best to stay a few nights in an RV to try to get in as many outdoor activities as possible.

RV Rentals in San Miguel River

Transportation

Driving

When it comes to getting to the San Miguel River, you shouldn’t have too much trouble. Due to the long length of the river, there are several places throughout Colorado where you can access it. If you’re coming from the north, you can take Highway 145 to Highway 90. If you’re coming from the south, you’ll need to hop onto Highway 145 and use one of the many river access points that can be found after passing through Norwood, Colorado.

The closest large town is Placerville. This is a scenic drive that you can take to see the river and get to one of the local campgrounds. You can even access a specific Special Management Area from the Bureau of Land Management just east of Naturita, Colorado.

When it comes to transportation once you’ve reached the river, there are a few common methods people use to get around. The most common is a large raft. If white water rafting isn’t your thing, you can use a kayak, canoe, or fishing boat. Lastly, you can use your own two feet to transport you along the shores of the river.

Parking

Public Transportation

Campgrounds and parking in San Miguel River

Campsites in San Miguel River

First-come first-served

Caddis Flats Campgrounds

With a boat launch that will launch you right onto the San Miguel River, Caddis Flats Campground is a beautiful spot to rest your head. In the distance, you will see tree-covered rolling hills that are stunning when autumn rolls around. Caddis Flats Campground offers three developed campsites for campers to enjoy. One of the three campsites comes with a cabana which can come in handy if your stay is during the hot Colorado summer.

Each campsite has a picnic table as well as a fire ring for you to use. If you’re pulling a trailer or driving an RV, you can park in one of the four parking areas. Camping is available here year-round and all campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Caddis Flats Campground offers a vault toilet that can be shared by the entire campground. There is no running water or modern hookups for RV campers.

Lower Beaver Campground

The Lower Beaver Campground is another amazing place to stay on your visit to the San Miguel River. You’ll find this campground less than ½ mile downriver from Beaver Creek Boat Ramp. It is easily accessible via the water and it is open year-round. Lower Beaver Campground offers three tent sites to campers. These tent sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. You will be provided with a fire ring for campfires and cooking, along with a picnic table.

If you’re driving an RV or pulling a trailer, there are two parking areas available. These are best for shorter RVs and trailers. Lower Beaver Campground has a toilet available for campers to share. There is also a boat launch that can be carried in by hand when needed. All of the areas on land are handicap accessible. This is a beautiful spot to rest your head after an adventure-filled day on the San Miguel River.

Telluride Town Park Campground

Even though it’s primitive camping, when you stay at Telluride Town Park Campground, you’re never too far from basic necessities. This campground is open from the middle of May until the middle of October. There are semi-modern bathrooms available for campers to use. The bathrooms also double as a storm shelter if needed. There is a pool to cool off during the warm summer Colorado days if you’re not interested in taking a dip in the San Miguel River.

There is also a tennis court if you’re looking to get some swings in during your stay. When there are music festivals in town, Telluride Town Park Campground is only available for attendees of the concerts. Camping is available there on a first-come, first-served basis. There aren’t any RV hookups and RVs must be 30 feet in length or shorter to stay there. You will find showers, picnic tables, and fire rings there as well.

Seasonal activities in San Miguel River

In-Season

White Water Rafting

Are you an adrenaline junkie? Do you want to experience a thrilling summertime activity? If so, white water rafting is something that you’re bound to love. Grab a group of friends and head out on the water. There are a variety of different rental places along the river if you don’t have your own gear. Make sure everyone wears the proper safety gear and knows how to white water raft. Don’t forget to have some fun!

Boating

If rafting is too intense for you, there are other options as well. You can bring a canoe out on the calmer parts of the river. This can be a relaxing activity to enjoy during a summer afternoon. You could also take a kayak out onto the San Miguel River. This is a fun way to get around and see things from a different point of view. Lastly, you can take your fishing boat out onto the river in hopes of catching dinner!

Fishing

Fishing is one of the most popular activities for people visiting the San Miguel River. If you’re traveling with an angler, fishing is a must! Whether you’re casting a line from shore or straight from the boat, you’re bound to catch a few fish. The more common species found in the San Miguel River are both rainbow trout and cutthroat trout. Just make sure you have the proper licenses to keep any fish.

Off-Season

Picnicking

Picnicking is a great way to spend any time of day or night when visiting the San Miguel River. While you can pack your own meal, it’s highly suggested to catch your own lunch or dinner right from the river. Because there are wild animals including bears in the area, if you do decide to have a picnic, be sure to clean up after yourself. If camping, make sure that your food is well hidden and away from where you’re sleeping.

Wildlife Viewing

There are a ton of amazing wild animals all throughout Colorado. In the San Miguel River, you’ll find a variety of different fish, trout being the most popular. On land there are large and small animals, as well as birds soaring overhead. The large animals in the area are elk, bears, and mule deer. Yellow-bellied marmot, rattlesnakes, pika, tarantulas, and gophers are some of the smaller wild creatures in the area. Keep an eye out for Townsend’s big-eared bat as well!

Hiking

If you’re looking for a more active off-season activity to enjoy while visiting the San Miguel River, consider a morning or afternoon hiking. Not only is it a great way to burn off the calories from your delicious picnic, it’s an amazing way to see the river.

There are hiking trails on both sides of the river, all throughout the 81-mile long journey. Be sure to keep an eye on your kids if hiking near the river and wear high-quality hiking boots.