Morel Mushrooms Grow Like Wildfire in The Spring Creek Burn Scars

Chase the burn in Spanish Peaks Country where “burn” morel mushrooms are almost guaranteed to sprout from the giant burn scars left in the wake of the 2018 Spring Creek Fire, which ravaged parts of La Veta and beyond in 2018.

The Spring Creek Fire damaged 108,000 acres, making it the third largest wildfire in Colorado history. While burn scars stretch across the mountains, they’ve made commercial and amateur mushroom hunters eager and ready to roam the land in search of prized burn morels, which thrive in this unique environment.

Morels are considered one of the finest-tasting mushrooms on Earth. With a meaty flavor and texture, they are beloved by meat eaters and vegetarians alike. However, they are not easy to find, making them even more of a delicacy. Because a morel’s cap is a honeycombed conglomeration of pits in black, grey, or tan, it’s relatively hard to detect, even when you are looking for it. The earthy colors tend to blend in with the forest floor, and that pitted cap bears an irritatingly close resemblance to a pine cone, of which there are demonstrably more in the forest than morels.

Morels don’t always pop up where they’re supposed to. Although they are associated with certain trees, there’s no guarantee you’ll find one. However, after a forest fire, chances of finding morels skyrocket, making burn scars a favorite destination for mushroom hunters.

If you find one burn morel, search the surrounding two dozen feet carefully. Burn morels tend to cluster, so finding one is a good clue it has buddies nearby.

While the Springs Creek Fire was devastating to Spanish Peaks Country, the potential abundance of burn morels remains a silver lining, and the residents of La Veta are ready to welcome mushroom hunters with open arms.

While it’s great the burn scar has provided habitat for this delicious fungus, please visit the area with a mindset to prevent future forest fires.  If you smoke, don’t be a “butt-head”! Also, be sure to help this fragile ecosystem heal by staying on designated routes. Learn about how you can Leave no Trace and Care for Colorado.