Best Wilderness In Colorado

Maria Garcia
• Monday, 18 January, 2021
• 8 min read

ColoradoWilderness Areas provide some of the best places to recreate in the Centennial State. If you’re keen for a quality outdoor adventure, then the Colorado wilderness areas need to be at the top of your list.

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Of that acreage, 3,735,240 acres are federally protected as wilderness. In this post, we highlight 44 ColoradoWilderness Areas and provide a quick map so that you can locate these rugged, remote, and wild places.

Total Acres: 29,027 acres Year Designated: 1980 Agency: US Forest Service and Fish & Wildlife Service Total Acres: 23,301 acres Year Designated: 1984 Agency: US Forest Service *** The Platte River Wilderness is located on the Colorado /Wyoming border.

Total Acres: 102,214 acres Year Designated: 1980 Agency: US Forest Service & Bureau Of Land Management For more information about the numerous wilderness areas scattered across the United States, visit Wilderness .net.

Just to the west of Seville, the trail passes through the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness with a view of some of Colorado's most prominent “fourteeners” (mountains at least 14,000 ft. high) and fields of wildflowers. The hardier might take a side trip up Mount Elbert, the state's tallest peak, at 14,433 feet.

Although a bit too popular to provide a genuine wilderness experience, these stretches of river both have sections rated for experts during the high spring runoff, and quieter areas appropriate for everyone. Exploring the Cities on the Front Range: There is plenty of mountain scenery between Fort Collins and Pueblo, and the majority of the top museums, hotels, and restaurants are found here.

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Biking, Rafting, or Driving through Glenwood Canyon: This masterwork of geology between Eagle and Glenwood Springs is home to an engineering marvel in I-70, but bike trails and the Colorado River provide alternate methods to see the stunning views. Two great tourist towns, two stunning mountain passes, and tiny, historic Silverton in between make this a superlative scenic drive.

The ferocious Sawtooth peaks and treacherously steep terrain of the Gore Range make for some advanced mountaineering, but pretty much any­one can enjoy the picturesque views of this mountain range while exploring the rest of the Eagles Nest Wilderness, a 133,496-acre area located just north of Silverstone and View. Tucked away in La Marita Wilderness, an expanse of nearly 130,000 acres within the Unison and Rio Grande national forests, a hidden enclave of otherworldly rock formations awaits.

It shows off cascades of wicked spires, clusters of mushroom-like hoodoos and deep, smooth folds in the earth, as though the ground was draped like fabric across the mountainside. Start with a water crossing through a shallow (and bracing cold) creek, and follow the trail through wide-open meadows dappled with colorful wildflowers, alongside stands of trees and through cool, shaded forests.

Backpack in with your essentials for an overnight stay at one of the dispersed campsites near the end of the trail, or plan an all-day, in-and-back trek with a riverside cabin at Antlers Rio Grande Lodge in Creed as your home base. Near Crested Butte and Panic, across the Unison and White River national forests, you’ll find the 65,443-acre Ragged Wilderness.

Experience the pristine waters and thrilling rapids as you paddle downriver, gliding through deep canyons and past lush ponderosa pine forests. Boasting more than 50 lakes, 28 trails covering 133 miles and six passes across the Continental Divide, it’s easy to find a little peace and quiet in this wilderness area despite its popularity.

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Here’s the thing about summer along Colorado’s Front Range: all the traffic and crowds and activity can make you forget about the dark shade of a pine forest, the chill of a stream tumbling down a hillside, the shock of fire-red Indian paintbrush growing from a decomposing log, and the utter tranquility of the wilderness. But there’s a place where tranquility can be yours, where you can have a pond full of brook trout to yourself, and where you can have a nice patch of the forest all to yourself for a day, a weekend, or even longer.

Colorado’s 41 wilderness areas are spread over 3.5 million miles of backcountry, and they offer the perfect respite to the summer chaos. A wilderness area, as defined by the Wilderness Act of 1964, is a protected piece of wild land “where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by land.” That means no RVs, no motorcycles, no developed picnic areas, or visitor centers.

Adam Baker Tumbled granite boulders like a giant’s building blocks form the foundation that allows the creek to do a disappearing act. Part of this wilderness area was burned in the 2002 Cayman fire, but the forest is rebounding with the help of volunteers working thousands of hours.

Other favorites are Hawkins Pass and, approaching from the western side of this wilderness area, Lost Park. What Buffalo Peaks does offer is solitude and a series of tiny brook trout ponds sparkling like charms on a bracelet.

Ideal day here: Sitting on a steep hillside and watching the sun set through the leaves of glittering aspens. The area is popular with anglers, but offers spectacular canyon scenery in a wild river setting.

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Byers Peak is a small alpine wilderness area located in north-central Colorado near Winter park. Thick lodge pole forests, several small alpine lakes, and twelve thousand foot peaks engage the senses in this gem hidden north of I-70 and near to the town of Silverstone, Colorado.

For excellent fishing, visit the Cache la Pure wilderness in northern Colorado. The wilderness area encompasses a wild stretch of the Cache la Pure river offering a pristine montane environment for hikers and anglers.

Located north of and contiguous with the Rocky Mountain National Park, the Comanche Peak wilderness consists of the gray granite of the Mummy Range along with alpine lakes and dark spruce forests. The Flat Top wilderness is located north of the town of Glenwood Springs in northern Colorado.

In a unique place not found anywhere else, the Medan Creek creates a sandy beach as it flows around the east and south-east edge of the dune field during spring and early summer. The wilderness area encompasses the dunes as well as a portion of the Sanger de Cristo mountains immediately to the east.

Located just west of the city of Aspen, the Hunter-Fryingpan wilderness contains a rich forest and the peaks of the Williams mountains. A favorite of locals, the Indian Peaks Wilderness is conveniently located in the Front Range, not far from Denver and Boulder.

maroon bells snowmass colorado wilderness loop trail map alltrails maps
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Glacially sculpted peaks and valleys teeming with spruce forests are what characterize this gem. Wilson and it’s nearby peaks standout against stands of aspen and rolling meadows on a clear summer day.

Lost Creek is treasured for the pink-orange hued granite domes, and spires that form unusual geographical features. Elsewhere, narrow granite walled canyons and ponderosa pine forested peaks offer solitude in this special wilderness area not far from populated Colorado cities.

Nickel wilderness contains much of the northern portion of the Park Range north-east of Steamboat Springs. A fun fact: the Park Range is considered in most years to have the highest average snow-fall in the state.

Descriptively named, these mountain peaks catch the cold-wet winds and squeeze precipitation out of them in the form of heavy snow that lasts well into summer. With no lofty peaks, rather, the Powder horn Wilderness contains the Calf Creek and Cannibal Plateaus and an amazing expanse of high altitude tundra and forested ravines.

The wild and remote Ragged wilderness is located northwest of Crested Butte, Colorado. Here the reddish Ruby Range and the rugged Ragged rise as jagged peaks and snag the wet wintry winds laden with snow.

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Here summer plant life explodes with lush green slopes, and verdant valleys like nowhere else. Fall in the Ragged is a spectacular season with crimson and yellow aspens blanketing the Ruby Range.

Here the Front Range makes its last hurrah before its gnarled peaks gradually drop in elevation as they merge into the Wyoming plains. The wilderness contains spruce-fir and lodge pole pine forests, and many lakes nestled beneath sheer cliff rock walls.

The 450 acre park contains a large expanse of alpine and arctic tundra along with scenic granite peaks set above glittering lakes. Rising above the broad San Luis valley, visitors can’t miss the snow capped Sanger de Cristo peaks as they march across the horizon.

Located in south central Colorado, the Sanger de Cristo wilderness preserves the wild and rugged portion of this classic Rocky Mountain landscape. Sniffers and the Blue Lakes are a popular destination for hikers from nearby Ridgeway, Colorado.

Located in a very rugged portion of the Rockies, the Sniffers wilderness (although small) contains jaw dropping mountain scenery. The area is known for heavy winter snowfall that produces thick forests teeming with elk, and deep gorges cut by rivers fed by snow from peaks above.

colorado springs dog hikes friendly oakleyoriginals
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The twin Spanish Peaks situated in the eastern Rocky Mountains of Colorado are visible for miles. Located in the Front Range mountains north of I-70 and immediately west of Berthoud Pass, the Vasquez Peak wilderness protects twelve thousand foot summits and subalpine forests.

The Penuche wilderness preserves a large portion of the San Juan mountains south of the Colorado towns of Silverton and Creed. The southern and westernmost portion of the Elk Mountains earned wilderness protection in 1964 and contains 176,412 acres.

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