Long before it was a show, South Park was a place. Not a real town, but a huge valley in Park County
. This valley is surrounded by very tall mountains (many in excess of 14,000 feet), and accessible by only one major road--US Highway 285
from over Kenosha Pass
--though several smaller roads can get you there as well. The valley floor has an average elevation
of about 9,500 feet and often sees extreme weather in the winter. Not too long ago, the entire area would often be closed to vehicles due to extreme winds and blowing snow that caused frequent white outs. One of the passes that comes into South Park is actually called Boreas
Pass, after the god of the wind. These days, large fences have been erected alongside the roads in order to stop the blowing snow from closing the road.
South Park contains only a few towns, including Jefferson, Fairplay, Como, and Alma, which is the town with the highest elevation above sea level (in the United States), despite what Leadville will try to tell you.
South Park is used primarily for two things: agriculture and recreation. The recreation includes camping and fishing in the Lost Creek Wilderness Area and climbing fourteeners such as Mt. Democrat, Mt. Lincoln, Mt. Bross, Mt. Sherman, and several others. Many people also pass through here on their way to the Arkansas River to go rafting. Agricutlturally it is used mostly for grazing land and farm land.
Outside of the spectacular mountains and outdoor features, there aren't too many tourist attractions. One of the exptions is South Park City, a restored 1880s town. It is rather interesting and is worthwhile to see if you're interested in the history of the American West. Most of the buildings are actual buildings from some of the many ghost towns in Park County left over from the silver crash of 1893. South Park City is located in the largest town in the area (and also the Park County Seat, Fairplay. Fairplay also contains several good restaurants, particularly the Fairplay Hotel.
And as far as the show South Park is concerned, it has little to do with the actual place. The actual show is based more on the town of Conifer, where Trey Parker grew up. In fact, Mr. Mackey is a direct jab at an actual counselor at my old middle school, whose name is Mr. Lackey. The only real similarity is that both the real South Park and the South Park of the show are located in Park County, Colorado.