San Luis Hills Wilderness Study Area (WSA) is a federally owned piece of land open year-round to the public. It includes a succession of hills rising above the San Luis Valley in Conejos County.
It is overseen by the Bureau of Land Management and provides visitors with an opportunity to observe and explore animal and plant life in their natural environment.
Wilderness Study Area
“Wilderness Study Area” is an official designation that identifies undeveloped federal land with wilderness characteristics that are not yet part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. All WSAs are overseen by the Bureau of Land Management, who strive to protect these areas from human influence and ensure they retain their natural characteristics.
To be considered a WSA, an area must meet certain qualifications.
Size and Roads –Must contain at least 5,000 acres of roadless public land.
Natural State –The land must be free from human habitation or influence, shaped by nature rather than human activity.
Recreational Opportunities – It must provide visitors with multiple types of recreational activities as well as space for solitude and reflection.
What to Expect
Those looking to get away from it all and spend some time alone will find many small drainages and large ravines, such as the John James Gulch, that allow for privacy and tranquility. Cliffs can be found in the northern section of the Hills, but most are rounded and suitable for hiking.
The Sangre de Cristo and San Juan mountains are close at hand, with their peaks dotting the skyline. The San Luis Valley, from which the hills get their name, is populated with wildlife that can survive in vast, arid, sparsely vegetated land. Discover deer, antelope, mule, and birds hidden among desert shrubs and grasses.
Some visitors come to the San Luis Hills seeking solitude. Others come to experience the many outdoor activities which include:
- Wildlife Viewing
- Horseback Riding
The Hills are open dawn to dusk, 365 days a year.
Where Is It?
Address: east of Manassa, CO 81151
Season: Year round