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Welcome to South Fork; Your Basecamp for Adventure!

South Fork Home Page



In the heart of the San Juan Mountains, South Fork stands as a testament to our enduring spirit and the legacy of the loggers and miners that tamed the wilderness long ago. Nestled in the embrace of majestic peaks and along the banks of the Rio Grande, our town envisions a future where the echoes of the past guide our future in tune with the rhythm of nature.

We envision a community where the towering pines, once harnessed for their strength in the logging industry, now stand as guardians of our mountain haven. South Fork aspires to be a destination where the crisp mountain air invigorates, and the changing seasons paint a canvas of natural wonder.

Embracing our heritage, we see a town that cherishes its history while fostering sustainable growth. We envision streets lined with stories of resilience, telling tales of the past through the preservation of historic buildings, places, and monuments, while also continuing to build a planned, carefully balanced community that recognizes the needs of its residents and visitors alike.

South Fork envisions a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, a gateway to adventure in all seasons. From the powdery slopes of Wolf Creek to the tranquil riverbanks, our town welcomes those seeking solace in nature and exhilaration in exploration.


South Fork envisions itself as a vibrant, sustainable, mountain town that cherishes its rich logging heritage, protects its vast natural beauty, and fosters a strong sense of community.  We see a future where our town thrives on small local businesses, responsible outdoor recreation and tourism.  We are committed to stewarding our land and creating a balance between growth and conservation where future generations can thrive. 


Our mission is to collaboratively plan and implement strategies that promote the social, economic and environmental sustainability of South Fork.  By engaging residents, local organizations, and stakeholders, we aim to enhance the Town’s livability, economic vitality, and overall well-being.  We encourage respectful, sustainable tourism and year-around outdoor recreation.  Through thoughtful and forward-thinking actions, we will celebrate our resilient community that honors our logging heritage and creates a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and a gateway to adventure.   

The History of South Fork

Baxterville, the early settlement that is now South Fork

Utes in the Water

The Utes: Prior to 1868, the Capote (Kapota) band of Ute Indians lived throughout the region of the southwest that includes the San Luis Valley. A hunting and gathering people, they called themselves "Nuche" or "Nuustiyu," meaning "the people" or "the mountain people." They were called "Yutas" by the Spanish explorers, then "Utes" as the United States expanded. In the summer, the "Nuustiyu" lived in extended nomadic family groups, and often wintered in New Mexico or Northern Arizona. The Utes made a treaty of peace with the United States in 1849. Shortly thereafter, settlers from New Mexico established several settlements in Colorado. In 1968, the Utes were moved to a reservation in western Colorado, until they lost their expansive reservation as a result of the Meeker Massacre in 1879.

The Town of South Fork: Prior to the arrival of the railroad in 1882, South Fork was primarily known as a stage stop where passengers could stretch before continuing on to northern destinations. The railroad brought cheap and reliable transportation, allowing residents to profit from the area\'s abundant resources. Saw mills sprung up to supply local timber to the ever-growing railways and surrounding mining districts. Cattle and sheep were introduced during these early years. In the 1870\'s, vegetable production, mainly cauliflower, lettuce, potatoes and peas, were the main agricultural resources grown between South Fork and Del Norte. In the latter part of the 20th Century to present day, the tourism industry proved most important to South Fork\'s continued economic development. One of Colorado\'s newest towns (incorporated in 1992), South Fork remains a regional hub of agriculture, timber, breathtaking scenery, boundless wildlife and family-oriented adventure!

Masonic Park: This was the first Masonic Park in the United States. The land was homesteaded in 1892, and consisted of 160 acres. In 1914, the San Luis Valley Masonic Association purchased the property to be used as an annual meeting place. After a bridge was built over the Rio Grande and a water system was installed, the park was platted and lots were available for sale to approximately 800 members.


Shaw Creek

Shaw Ranch, South Fork, Colorado

Barlow and Sanderson Stage Company: In 1874, the Barlow and Sanderson Stage Company\'s line reached from Missouri to Del Norte but needed to continue west. Alonzo Hubbard was hired to build roads to Antelope Springs, and on to Lake City. Not only was it a passenger route for the company, it provided freight to the quickly developing mining areas. A few toll roads built by a young Russian, Otto Mears, also became part of this route. From Del Norte going west, the first stage was at the Edwin Shaw Ranch, famous for their hay and hospitality. Located to the present Rest Area on Highway 160, the little cabin overlooking the highway is part of the original ranch. The way station for changing horses was at Bunker Hill, a mile down the road. In 1883, the Denver &, Rio Grande Railroad had achieved building rail lines from Del Norte to Wagon Wheel Gap and on to Lake City, making the Stage Route obsolete. Parts of the Barlow/Sanderson road can still be seen along the Silver Thread Scenic Byway.


 Holy Family Catholic Mission: By the 1870\'s farmers and ranchers were well established in South Fork, having filed claims for their land under the 1862 Homestead Act. One of these pioneers, Jose Campos, would have descendants who were still farming his land in the 1930\'s. For many years, the Campos family invited the mission priest to celebrate Mass services in their home amidst the wheat fields, until they donated the property for a church to be built. The Church was built in the early 1940\'s where Mass services still continue today.



Denver and Rio Grande Railroad

General Palmer: General William Jackson Palmer was a visionary who possessed unbounded enthusiasm for building railroads across the west. His tremendous energy brought the Denver &, Rio Grande narrow-gauge line from Denver to Pueblo, and hundreds of miles of track across the San Luis Valley. These narrow gauge tracks (thinner by 1-2 feet) allowed rail cars to navigate the steep grades and sharp curves throughout the San Juans. Palmer\'s D&,RG routes ensured shipment of San Juan Territory resources throughout the western United States. Palmer became one of the richest railroad barons in America. 1883, Palmer\'s rails stretch to Wagon Wheel Gap, home to his newly opened hotel &, Hot Springs Resort, which today is the 4UR Guest Ranch. Due to a crippling horse accident in August of 1907, Palmer himself did not get to visit the resort much. His vacation home still stands, and serves as the Ranch\'s recreation hall.

D&,RG Water Tower: In 1881, South Fork\'s Denver &, Rio Grande Railroad water tower signaled the arrival of the railroad to South Fork, and an end to the famous Barlow and Sanderson Stage Line. A wellspring from nearby Harper Mountain, located east of the present day structure, fed plenty of water to thirsty steam engines. The spring replenished the large tower, and a tin water spout was lowered to fill steam engines before the journey west to Wagon Wheel Gap or the Creede Mining District. The D&,RG Water Tower was refurbished in 2002 with a Colorado Historical Society preservation grant.

SF Water Tower

Railroad Creede

D&,RG Rail Line: By 1883, the Denver &, Rio Grande Rail Line reached Wagon Wheel Gap, bringing tourists to a mineral springs resort owned by the Railroad\'s founder William Jackson Palmer. In 1891, it was extended to the mining towns north of South Fork to transport precious minerals and metals out of Willow Creek Canyon. Springtown, Jimtown and Amethyst were thriving mining camps. Jimtown was eventually renamed Creede after Nicholas C. Creede struck silver and opened the Holy Moses mine. The D&,RG Railroad shipped millions of dollars in high quality ore and minerals from these mines. The town of Creede was officially incorporated on June 13, 1892. It was the second town (Telluride, Colorado, being the first) to have electric lights along streets and in homes. This new phenomenon caused Cy Warman to pen the verse in his infamous poem about Creede: "It\'s day all day-time and there is no night in Creede."

Wolf Creek Pass: In 1916 the automobile boom developed a need for a direct route across southern Colorado. The chosen route, known as the Spanish Trail/Grand Canyon Highway, followed along Wolf Creek. The route was funded by the Del Norte Commercial Club, the towns of Del Norte and Pagosa Springs, Rio Grande and Archuleta Counties, the State of Colorado, the US Forest Service and the US Government. The purpose was to benefit tourism in one of the most picturesque areas of Colorado. Monte Vista businessmen also worked with a federal grant to help improve the roads from Walsenburg to Durango. In August of 1916, the South Fork and Wolf Creek Pass was officially opened with a state-wide celebration.

Wolf Creek Pass

Wolf Creek Ski Area: By 1930, a movement in the State of Colorado was made to promote skiing. In 1935, Wolf Creek Ski Area had begun. It originated from a San Luis Valley group of men and women who loved to ski. Invitations were sent to various Chambers of Commerce to discuss possible locations. An area near Creede was considered, however, skiers from Monte Vista found a spot on Wolf Creek Pass that offered ski slopes for all levels of skiers. The original area was on the north side of Highway 160. In 1955, the ski area was relocated across the highway to the present location, adding the installation of a rope tow. Shortly thereafter, the Wolf Creek Ski Development Corporation was formed. In 1960, the Corporation sold the area to a Dallas firm who ran it for two years, after which it came back under the control of the Wolf Creek Ski Development Corporation.


For existing state and national restrictions, please refer to the links below.

Link to Rio Grande Public Health COVID-19 Update​

Rio Grande Hospital – 719-657-4990

SLV Health – 719-589-2511, and press 9

CO HELP hotline:  1-877-462-2911

Colorado COVID-19 Information –

CDC COVID-19 Information -

Payments of citations can be made online using a credit/debit card or electronic check or by phone at 719-873-0152. (There is a bank fee of $0.75 cents plus 2.25% added to credit/debit card or $1.00 fee for electronic check payments.) By mailing a check or money order (please make all checks and money orders out to the Town of South Fork) or by coming to the South Fork Town Hall.

Mail payments to:

South Fork Municipal Court Clerk
PO Box 369
South Fork, CO. 81154

For additional information, please contact Court Clerk Melanie Hart at 719-873-0152, Tuesday through Thursday or

Pay Online Here

Town of South Fork Police Department Weekly Report

Event Number

Date Reported


Primary Classification

240332/12/2024Officers responded to the area of Aspen Drive on a medical assist.Death
240342/12/2024Officers were dispatched to the area of Pinon Drive, South Fork, on a report of a residential security alarm. The residence was found to be secure.Alarm
240352/12/2024Officers responded to the area of Sawmill Street on a civil standby. The standby was complete without incident.Civil Problem
240362/13/2024Officers were dispatched to the area of the Garden Walk Apartments on an animal noise complaint.Animal Call
240372/14/2024 Suspicious Person
240382/14/2024Officers received a report of a phone scam of a party trying to sell maps and being associated with the Visitor Center. The call was determined to be a scam.Suspicious Activity
240392/16/2024Officers took a report of a mail scam. A public announcement was issued about the scam.Suspicious Activity
240402/17/2024Officers responded to the area of Cottonwood Drive on a welfare check. The residence was found to be unoccupied.Welfare Check
240412/17/2024Officers responded to the Grand View RV Park on a cell phone panic alarm activation. It was found to be an accidental activation.Alarm

Citation Number

Date Reported



EC-002892/15/2024Traffic Viol-Ordinance - Speeding (5-9 Mph) Over Posted Limit 
EC-002902/15/2024Traffic Viol-Ordinance - Speeding (5-9 Mph) Over Posted Limit 
EC-002912/15/2024Traffic Viol-Ordinance - Speeding (5-9 Mph) Over Posted Limit 
EC-002922/15/2024Traffic Viol-Ordinance - Speeding (5-9 Mph) Over Posted Limit 
EC-002932/16/2024Traffic Viol-Ordinance - Speeding (5-9 Mph) Over Posted Limit 
W-0000232/16/2024Traffic Viol-Ordinance - Speeding (10-19 Mph) Over Posted Limit 

Click Here to Pay for a Traffic Citation

Mail Payments to:

Town of South Fork Water Enterprise

PO Box 358

South Fork, CO 81154

To apply for ACH bank payment please complete and submit this form to or bring/send it into our office at 100 Silver Thread Lane, South Fork, CO 81154.

*Note: For sewer and waste water sanitation please contact South Fork Water and Sanitation at 719-873-5860.  

Pay by E-Check/Debit or Credit Card  Pay by Credit/Debit Card

Autopayments can be set up through customer accounts on the govtportal

Please fill out this form if you have any Questions, Comments or Concerns regarding the Town of South Fork.


Now Hiring for the position of Full Time Peace Officer

Now Hiring for the position of Visitor Center Manager

PD Scam



January 12, 2024

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that on February 21st, 2024, at 6:00 p.m., at the South Fork Community Building, 254 Highway 149, South Fork, Colorado, the Town of South Fork Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a Public Hearing on the application for a Conditional Use Permit application to allow the owner of 94 Squaw Drive (parcel #2303102005), within the Town of South Fork, Rio Grande County, Colorado, to use the property for a RV Storage, and a primary residence with residential rental units above the structure.  The property is located in a Commercially Zoned area. 

Any person wanting additional details on the above referenced property may review the Conditional Use Permit application at the South Fork Town Hall, 0100 Silver Thread Lane, South Fork, Colorado between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.


Any person may appear at such hearing and present evidence upon any matter to be considered by the Planning and Zoning Commission.  Any person unable to attend the hearing and wishing to present information pertinent to the application may do so by email to: or mail to the address listed below.