6.7 RATON BASIN
The Raton Basin is a north-northwest trending structural basin located in south-central Colorado within Las Animas and Huerfano counties. The basin extends from the vicinity of Mt. Mestas in its northwest corner southward into New Mexico (Figure 6.7-1). The Colorado portion of the basin is bounded on the west by the Culebra Range, on the east by the Park Plateau, on the north by the extent of the Poison Canyon Formation, and on the south by the state line. The basin is located within the jurisdiction of Water Division 2.
Topography ranges from fairly flat along the Cucharas River west of Walsenburg to very steep and rugged in the vicinity of the igneous stocks of the Spanish Peaks and Mount Mestas. The Park Plateau, which covers most of the area south of the Spanish Peaks, is highly dissected with elevations over 8,400 feet at the upper plateau surface.
The intrusive igneous stocks of the Spanish Peaks are surrounded by the Cuchara Formation in the northern Raton Basin. Photo by V. Matthews, CGS.
Las Animas and Huerfano Counties are sparsely populated. Land use is primarily forest with some agricultural use. The major industry in the basin is coal mining. Currently, coal-bed methane production is very active in the basin. As of February 2001, almost 1,370 permitted water wells of record are present in the Colorado portion of the Raton Basin, as depicted in Figure 6.7-1.