Piedra River Trail

Adventure Rating

The Piedra River Trail, located just outside Pagosa Springs, Colorado, is a hidden gem for vanlifers seeking a blend of adventure, natural beauty, and serenity. This scenic trail offers a delightful hiking experience through lush forests, along a rushing river, and into the heart of the San Juan Mountains. 


The Piedra River Trail is a moderately easy trail that stretches for about 7 miles along the Piedra River. The trail features stunning river views, dramatic canyon walls, and lush meadows, making it a perfect spot for nature lovers and hikers of all levels. The trailhead is easily accessible from Pagosa Springs, making it a convenient destination for vanlifers exploring the area.


The Piedra River and its surrounding areas have a rich history tied to the indigenous Ute people and early settlers. The name “Piedra,” meaning “rock” in Spanish, reflects the rugged, rocky terrain that characterizes much of the trail. The area has been used for centuries for hunting, fishing, and as a travel corridor through the mountains. Today, it remains a popular spot for outdoor enthusiasts seeking to connect with nature and experience the timeless beauty of Colorado’s wilderness.


There are several camping options for vanlifers near the Piedra River Trail:

  • Williams Creek Campground: Located about 7 miles from the trailhead, this campground offers well-maintained sites, restrooms, and access to Williams Creek Reservoir. It’s a great spot to set up camp and explore the surrounding area.
  • Ute Campground: Situated along Piedra Road, this campground provides basic amenities and a peaceful setting amidst the pines. It’s closer to the trailhead, making it a convenient option for hikers.


For those seeking a more off-grid experience, there are numerous boondocking opportunities in the San Juan National Forest. Dispersed camping is allowed in many areas along Piedra Road and other forest service roads. Be sure to follow Leave No Trace principles and check local regulations before setting up camp.

Pagosa Springs

Pagosa Springs, located about 30 miles from the trailhead, offers a range of amenities and attractions for vanlifers. After a day of hiking, you can relax in the town’s famous hot springs or explore local shops and restaurants. The Pagosa Springs Visitor Center provides maps, information on local trails, and updates on trail conditions, ensuring you have all the information you need for a successful adventure.

Other Tourist Information

When planning your visit to the Piedra River Trail, it’s essential to be prepared for changing weather conditions, especially at higher elevations. The trail is best hiked from late spring to early fall, when the weather is more predictable, and the trail is accessible.

It’s a privilege to have the Piedra River Trail for our enjoyment, so please practice Leave No Trace principles.

References and Links:


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Pagosa Springs

Nestled in the heart of the San Juan Mountains, Pagosa Springs, Colorado, offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, rich history, and outdoor adventure for vanlifers seeking a memorable experience. From hiking and boondocking to relaxing in the famous hot springs, Pagosa Springs is an ideal destination for those looking to explore the great outdoors and unwind in nature’s splendor.

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