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Old 04-17-2010, 04:47 PM
 
2 posts, read 6,555 times
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I'm going down to Southern Colorado with my family later on in the year and when researching I found out about the La Garita Caldera on Wikipedia. Now, by the looks of it it'd be an interesting thing to see but I'm not quite sure where to go to get the best view of the massive volcano. I have a few questions:

1. Is it worth going to see?
2. If so, where do I go to get a good view? And how do I get there? Mapquest hasn't really helped!

Thanks!
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Old 04-18-2010, 09:39 AM
 
Location: Na'alehu Hawaii/Buena Vista Colorado
4,622 posts, read 9,107,160 times
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It's supposedly located west of the town of La Garita, which is west of Highway 285 between Saguache and Monte Vista. However, I looked around at maps and couldn't find anything there, so I don't think it would be worth a trip. Sounds interesting on Wikipedia, though.

Of course, if you go on the east side of 285, you have the wonderful Great Sand Dunes National Park. That is definitely worth a visit!
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Old 04-18-2010, 09:26 PM
 
Location: Colorado Plateau
1,133 posts, read 3,176,021 times
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I think I've been in the La Garita Caldera, on a geology field trip no less. But it's so big that it won't really look like much of a caldera while you're standing in it. It's not going to look like Crater Lake. More like Yellowstone (but not quite that big).

I'm not entirely familiar with the geology of the San Juan mountains but there are many calderas in the region.

Sand Dunes NP is a great place to visit!
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Old 04-19-2010, 02:23 PM
 
8,317 posts, read 25,091,437 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eofelis View Post
I think I've been in the La Garita Caldera, on a geology field trip no less. But it's so big that it won't really look like much of a caldera while you're standing in it. It's not going to look like Crater Lake. More like Yellowstone (but not quite that big).

I'm not entirely familiar with the geology of the San Juan mountains but there are many calderas in the region.

Sand Dunes NP is a great place to visit!
You are quite correct--you really can't tell when you're in the caldera. That said, the area west of the "town" of La Garita is some of Colorado's least despoiled areas. Much of the best of it, though, requires either 4WD or hiking to see (the La Garita Wilderness--no vehicle access--is one of Colorado's lesser known gems). Another interesting place nearby (north of Wagon Wheel Gap) is the Wheeler Geologic Area--it also requires 4WD to access, but is home to some very interesting rock formations, many of volcanic origin. Back at the turn of the 20th century, it was actually designated as a National Monument, but the designation was revoked because it was so isolated and seldom visited. Even today, relatively few people outside of locals and geology hobbyists know about it.
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Old 04-19-2010, 02:35 PM
 
Location: Aurora, CO
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If you want to go to a caldera that's fairly clearly evident you'll have to try Crater Lake as others have mentioned, or venture down to Los Alamos, NM, and check out the Valles Caldera.
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Old 06-30-2010, 09:30 AM
 
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Amazing to see how many people post that have not been there. We went to Wheeler National monument 2 weeks ago. Wheeler is near the edge of the La Garita Caldera area and within La Garita Wilderness. It is the closest that you can get to the Caldera (in a stout 4-wheel drive vehicle.) Remember that the Caldera is over 40 miles across and is not really distinguishable as many normal old volcanic remains. However the Wheeler area presents amazing geologic features (hoodoos, dikes, folds, etc.) that are great to explore. Reminded me of Yellowstone without the active mud-pits, hot pools, and geysers.

So how do you get there? Driving from South Fork to Creede on Hwy 149, you pass through Wagon Wheel Gap. Less than a mile further (on the Creede side of the Gap,) you will see a forest service road (600) turn-off to the right with a sign saying "Pool Table", a neat mountain mesa. After turning off, there is an additional sign that indicates mileage to an old Mill about 10 miles in and Wheeler 24 miles in. You can park at the Mill and hike in 7 miles to Wheeler. Or you can take a GOOD (emphasis on good) 4-wheel drive vehicle in the 14 mile rough road/trail to the edge of Wheeler.

We explored for a couple of hours and barely touched the area. We need to go back and spend a lot more hours. On ATVs it took us 1.5+ hours one way on the 14 mile road. I have no desire to drive my 4-Wheel drive Avalanche on that road. It is doable, but I have strong warm feelings for my truck.
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Old 06-30-2010, 10:45 AM
 
8,317 posts, read 25,091,437 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gordo1234 View Post
Amazing to see how many people post that have not been there. We went to Wheeler National monument 2 weeks ago. Wheeler is near the edge of the La Garita Caldera area and within La Garita Wilderness. It is the closest that you can get to the Caldera (in a stout 4-wheel drive vehicle.) Remember that the Caldera is over 40 miles across and is not really distinguishable as many normal old volcanic remains. However the Wheeler area presents amazing geologic features (hoodoos, dikes, folds, etc.) that are great to explore. Reminded me of Yellowstone without the active mud-pits, hot pools, and geysers.

So how do you get there? Driving from South Fork to Creede on Hwy 149, you pass through Wagon Wheel Gap. Less than a mile further (on the Creede side of the Gap,) you will see a forest service road (600) turn-off to the right with a sign saying "Pool Table", a neat mountain mesa. After turning off, there is an additional sign that indicates mileage to an old Mill about 10 miles in and Wheeler 24 miles in. You can park at the Mill and hike in 7 miles to Wheeler. Or you can take a GOOD (emphasis on good) 4-wheel drive vehicle in the 14 mile rough road/trail to the edge of Wheeler.

We explored for a couple of hours and barely touched the area. We need to go back and spend a lot more hours. On ATVs it took us 1.5+ hours one way on the 14 mile road. I have no desire to drive my 4-Wheel drive Avalanche on that road. It is doable, but I have strong warm feelings for my truck.
The Wheeler jeep trail used to be rough, but not especially arduous--it's been several years since I've been up there, so it may have changed. If it's wet, it's a real bearcat. As to "warm feelings for my truck," my feeling about my 4WD is that it is a tool--as such, I have no reservations about using it for its intended purpose. "Main Street" four-wheel drives are about as useful as teats on a boar, in my opinion.
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Old 06-30-2010, 09:47 PM
 
Location: Colorado Springs
18,884 posts, read 8,860,357 times
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You might check out the images on google for the caldera. There's quite a bit there.
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