Elk Hunting in Colorado GMU 78 - Archuleta, Conejos, Mineral, and Rio Grande Counties

Hunters must be prepared to walk into remote and forested areas. Do not expect to see elk from roads or areas open to OHVs. In early seasons stick to cool areas on north-facing slopes in the spruce/fir and aspen forests.

GMU 78 - Archuleta, Conejos, Mineral, and Rio Grande Counties

Scores


Ease of Drawing
0
 
N/A
Success
18
 
18
Trophy Potential
35
 
35
Public Access
62
 
62
Ease of Terrain
67
 
67
Room to Breathe
2
 
2
Opportunity
0
 
N/A
Convenience
15
 
15
Ease of Effort
46
 
46
42
HuntScore

Access Notes


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Bounded on N and E by Continental Divide; on S by New Mexico; on W by San Juan River, Four Mile Creek and Piedra River-San Juan River divide.

Public land and road access is good at mid to high elevations in these units which lie between Durango and Wolf Creek Pass. South of U.S. Highway 160 much of the land is privately owned or part of the Southern Ute Indian Reservation. To access pockets of public land within the Southern Ute boundaries you MUST obtain a crossing permit ($25) from the tribe.

Call (970)563-0125 for information. Hunting is not allowed on tribal lands.

County

Archuleta, Conejos, Mineral, Rio Grande

Size

682 Square Miles (436,608 Acres)

Land Ownership

32% Private, 62% Public, 61% USFS, 1% BLM, 6% Indian

Latitude/Longitude

37.2357, -106.8588

Amenities

There are 0 hospitals, 4 hotels, 4 campgrounds, and 0 grocery stores within a 20 mile radius.

Elk Notes


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The objective is to increase the population. Even though cow licenses were cut the previous few years this herd is not growing. CPW is watching this population closely and working on management strategies. Hunters must be prepared to walk into remote and forested areas.

Do not expect to see elk from roads or areas open to OHVs. In early seasons stick to cool areas on north-facing slopes in the spruce/fir and aspen forests. Elk move to lower elevations when snow accumulation is significant. In late seasons, ponderosa pine forests and oak brush can be productive.

The wilderness area boundary north of Pagosa often holds elk when snow pushes them down. Areas south of Pagosa Springs and east of Highway 84 can provide good hunting as snow begins to accumulate. Access on Mill Creek Rd (FS 302), Rio Blanco Rd (FS 657) and Buckles Lake Rd (FS 663). Hunters who don't mind working in rough country can be successful in the hills on either side of the Piedra River north of Highway 160.

The Missionary Ridge Road (FS Rd 682) and Beaver Meadows Rd (FS 135) provide access into good elk country in GMUs 75-751 as does the Mosca Road (FS 631) and FS Road 634 in GMU 77.

HuntScore Tip

Public land and private land percentages can sometime be misleading. A unit may have 80% public land, but a particluar species may only occupy 20% on the entire area. And that 20% species distribution may lie 100% within private lands. Does that sound confusing? Just remember that there are always exceptions to the rule, and land ownership is just one piece of the puzzle.

Management Plan

Elk Management Plan

State Agency Website

Visit Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Photos and Terrain Notes


Elevations range from about 6,500 feet to more than 12,000 feet. Weather can change quickly and be severe.

Elk Over The Counter Hunts (2021)


There are 2 OTC hunts in this unit. Go Pro to view the details!

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Elk Harvest Stats (2020)


Total Hunters
281
Total Harvest
107
Harvest Male
97
Harvest Female
6
38.1%
Average Success
Manner Season Type Sex Hunters Harvest Male Female Youth
R
D
R
N/A 2 2
0
2
0
R
O1
N/A 279 105
97
4
0
HuntScore Tip: With more than 300,000 hunting licenses sold in Colorado each year, Colorado Parks and Wildlife thinks it's impossible to contact every hunter. So, harvest data is not actual. It's a statistical sample calculation based on license sales data and an estimate of hunter numbers and hunter success. Hunter activity and success is gathered through the hunter survey sent to all Colorado licensed hunters. Response is voluntary and therefore not complete.

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  • Harvest trends across multiple years
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Weather Insights


Weather can vary by elevation. See how weather varies by elevation within a unit by selecting an elevation range. Elevation ranges are based on weather stations in or near the unit. Not all weather elements are available within the unit.

Average Temps

Use temperature ranges to plan and prepare for your hunt. Large swings indicate a good layering system should be used. Be sure to make note of the extreme temperatures as these often pose the greatest risk to hunters. If you plan on hunting in higher elevation, as a rule of thumb, expect the tempture to decrease roughly 5° for every 1000' in elevation gain.

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