Carnero Guard Station
Rio Grande National Forest
Carnero Guard Station is situated in a high open meadow surrounded by forest at an elevation of 9,840 feet. The high-elevation cabin is located in the north-central area of the San Luis Valley in the Rio Grande National Forest.
The guard station was first proposed in 1907 by the Cochetopa National Forest, and was originally named the John Smith Ranger Station after a homesteader who built a cabin near the site, but never filed on the land. Construction on the cabin began in 1908 and the name was changed to the Carnero Guard Station in 1916.
The two-room cabin is furnished with four bunk beds (the top bunk is a single bed, the bottom is a fold-out futon couch that sleeps two) and can accommodate up to 12 people. The cabin has a stove, refrigerator, heater and lighting, all powered with propane. The kitchen is equipped with a table and chairs, cooking utensils and some pots and pans. A picnic table, fire pit and an outdoor vault toilet are also on site. There is no electricity at the cabin, however water is available by an outside hand pump. Water is also available at the Saguache Ranger District Office during business hours from May through November.
Notifications and Alerts
- This location is closed. Affected reservations have been cancelled and refunds have been issued. Local managers are committed to the health and safety of recreational visitors and our staff. We are following the guidelines from our agency and the CDC regarding COVID-19, closely monitoring the situation and responding to current conditions. Please continue to monitor this page for status updates.
We will be upgrading the Recreation.gov Help Center system this weekend. From 11:00pm ET on 10/24 until 10:00am ET on 10/25, the Help Center, phone support, Contact Us page, and chat support may be temporarily unavailable.
Need to Know
- Please contact the Saguache Ranger District prior to arriving at the cabin to check on any restrictions or conditions, such as fire or road closures, weather or storms that may affect the quality of your visit.
- Entry to the cabin is by combination lock, which will be provided in the confirmation letter or email which is sent after a reservation is made.
- Water is available at the guard station by outside hand pump. Water is available at the Saguache Ranger District office during business hours from Memorial Day weekend to November.
- There is no electricity at the Guard Station.
- No cell phone service is available at this facility.
- The guard station is a non-smoking facility.
- Livestock are prohibited: including horses, mules, llamas, and alpacas.
- All cabins are administratively used on occasion. You may encounter agency stock horses during your stay. Do not feed or try to ride the animals.
- Pets are allowed at the facility, but must be under control at all times; they must not harass wildlife or livestock.
- Do not leave food or trash outside the guard station; there are bears in the area.
- All garbage and food must be packed out; do not burn garbage in the fire pit or wood stove.
- Please clean the guard station and ensure the gate is locked upon departure.
- Drink plenty of water before arrival and during your stay to avoid altitude sickness.
- For safety and resource protection, do not discharge firearms and skeet shooting is prohibited within the cabin area boundary.
- During the winter you may need to snowmobile, snowshoe or ski to access the cabin.
Volcanic rock outcroppings dot the forested hillsides and wide pastures near the cabin. The La Garita Wilderness is located approximately 20 miles west of the guard station and features about 35 miles of the Continental Divide well above the timberline.
This area also provides habitats for large herds of elk and mule deer, and on the southern slopes, there is an ancient forest of towering spruce and fir. It is a landscape of rushing streams, broad and gentle alpine meadows, beaver ponds, long talus slopes and tremendous mountain beauty.
Guests at Carnero Guard Station are a short drive from Penitente Canyon, which has become a great draw for rock climbing.
The cabin is a good base camp for hunting, and fishing, which is available at several creeks within a short drive. The area also offers many opportunities for hiking and off-road vehicle adventures in summer, and cross country skiing and snowmobiling in the winter.
There is an off-road vehicle trail about 10 miles southwest of the cabin that travels to within 2 miles of the La Garita Wilderness.
Elk, deer, and other wildlife are often seen in meadows adjacent to the cabin, and moose have been spotted in the Moon Pass area, about 5 miles west.
46525 ST HWY 114 SAGUACHE CO 81149
For campground inquiries, please call: 719-655-2547
Learn more about gear rental options for your trip
Carnero Guard Station may be reached by traveling south on Highway 285 approximately 15 miles south of Saguache to the La Garita turnoff (Road G). In La Garita proceed west on County Road 41G for approximately 17 miles. Look for the cabin on the right.
NOTE: Forest Road 41G leading to the cabin is unimproved but may be traveled by passenger car, weather permitting. The cabin may also be accessed from Highway 114 west of Saguache, also on Forest Road 41G. During winter months, the cabin may be accessible only by snowmobile, skis or snowshoes.