The Mesa Verde region of south-western Colorado offers varied terrain and year-round activities for sportsmen. Habitat ranges from low desert country with red rock canyons, juniper, cactus, and sage to the towering spruce and aspen forests of the San Juans, where deer, elk, cougars, and bears roam amid mountains rising to 13,000 feet. Fishing runs the gamut from flathead lakes holding bass and catfish to high-country streams with trout.
TOWNS WITH SERVICES: Durango, Cortez, Telluride, Dolores, Pagosa Springs.
NATIONAL PARK: Mesa Verde.
NATIONAL FORESTS: San Juan, Rio Grande.
FISHING: McPhee Reservoir covers 4,470 acres and offers bass, crappies, bluegills, yellow perch, and channel catfish, as well as kokanee salmon and trout. Other lakes for bass include Joe Moore, Beaver Creek, Summit, and Jackson. Puett, Totten, and Narraguinnep hold walleyes and pike, plus bass.
Trout lakes include Groundhog, north of Dolores; and Trout Lake, between Tico and Telluride. Stream trout fishing is superb in the West Mancos River, and in Stoner, Taylor, Bear, Chicken, Fish, Barlow, and Beaver Creeks. The Animas River runs through Durango and is good for browns and rainbows. The most famous trout water in this area is the Dolores River. Try the headwaters in the San Juans near Lizard Head Pass or the tailwaters below McPhee Reservoir.
HUNTING: The world-record typical mule deer, which scored 226 4/8, was taken in Dolores County in 1972. A 306 7/8 nontypical was killed in Montezuma County that same year. Elk are hunted throughout the area, which also has black bears, lions, turkeys, and small game.
Waterfowl hunters do well on ducks on the larger reservoirs. Doves in the valleys and grouse in the mountains attract wingshooters.
LAND: Mountain property costs significantly more than land in the lower elevations. Bordering national forest and BLM land on three sides near Saguache, 105 acres with aspen groves lists for $315,000. Near Yellow Jacket, 160 acres costs $195,000, or you can buy 100 acres of flatland near Cortez for $50,000. A 70-acre isolated parcel near Durango with large ponderosa pines goes for $450,000.
LAND WITH HOMES: Northwest of Cortez, 320 acres with four bedrooms, two baths, $350,000. A 51.6-acre parcel with a rustic cabin bordering national forest close to Pagosa Springs, $199,000. With mountain views and a pond on 45 acres, a two-bed, two-bath custom home with large log beams goes for $525,000. Cabin on 1 acre, four beds, two baths, mountain and water views, backs up to national forest near Pagosa Springs, $245,000.
TAXES: On a 1,000-square-foot cabin on 1 acre listing for $209,000, about $291 per year.
CONTACT: Durango Tourism, 800-463-8726; durango.org; mesaverdecountry.com; pagosacountry.com. Ask for real estate agents.