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Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Area

Government information and links are at the bottom of this page.

Located in White River, San Isabel and Gunnison National Forests

Neighboring towns: Buena Vista, Crested Butte, Aspen, Twin Lakes, Taylor Park, Tin Cup, Pitkin, Ohio, White Pine, Garfield, Gunnison, Almont

Collegiate Peaks is one of the ten largest wildernesses in the state. Within its boundaries are more fourteeners and high peaks than any other wilderness area in Colorado or the lower 48 states.

The Collegiate Peaks Wilderness may very well possess the highest average elevation of any wilderness area in the contiguous 48 states. Eight peaks exceeding 14,000 feet are found here, including the state's third and fifth highest summits, Mount Harvard and La Plata Peak. In addition, another half-dozen peaks soar over 13,800 feet. More than 40 miles of the Continental Divide follow the crest of the Sawatch Range in what is arguably the pinnacle of the North American continent, for the divide never reaches a higher point between the Isthmus of Panama and the Arctic Circle than it does in the Sawatch Range. Colorado's two highest peaks, Mount Elbert and Mount Massive, march north from the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness like two giant stepping stones.

The popularity of climbing fourteeners, combined with proximity to Denver and the Front Range, means the Collegiates receive crowds on summer weekends. For more solitude, plan to visit during the week or in the fall.

Wide U-shaped valleys open onto utterly breathtaking mountain scenery. Dozens of alpine lakes sparkle at the feet of striking rocky cirques. For startling, glacier-scupted high mountain spendor, this area has few rivals in Colorado.

As you travel through the area, you might notice unusual and deep indentations in the boundary line. These are a legacy of man's hunt for gold and other valuable metals that are still sought just outside. More than a dozen trailheads create a situation in which no one ever stands more than five miles from a road. About 40 miles of the serpentine Continental Divide snake across the area, and this expansive Wilderness lies in parts of three national forests. The beauty of this place and its ease of access ensure torrents of visitors, especially on weekends.

Size: 166,938 acres

Elevation: 8,500 to 14,420 feet

Miles of trails: 105

Year designated: 1980

Hunting areas: 471, 48, 481, 55

For more information contact:

Gunnison & Uncompahgre National Forests, 2250 Highway 50, Delta, CO 81416  (970)874-6600 Forest Headquarters
This e-mail will be distributed to the correct Ranger District.
Grand Valley Ranger District, PO Box 330, 218 High Street, Collbran, CO 81624  (970)487-3534
Gunnison Ranger District, 216 N. Colorado, Gunnison, CO 81230  (970)641-0471
Ouray Ranger District, 2505 S. Townsend, Montrose, CO 81401  (970)240-5400
Paonia Ranger District, PO box 1030, North Rio Grande Ave., Paonia, CO 81428  (970)527-4131
Gunnison Ranger District, PO Box 89, Lake City, CO 81235  (970)641-0471 or (970)944-2500
Grand Valley Ranger District, 2777 Crossroads Blvd., Grand Junction, CO 81506  (970)242-8211
Norwood Ranger District, PO Box 388, 1760 Grand Ave., Norwood, CO 81423  (970)327-42261

For more information contact:

Pike & San Isabel National Forests, 1920 Valley Drive, Pueblo, CO 81008
Leadville Ranger District, 2015 N. Poplar, Leadville, CO 80461  (719)486-0749
Pikes Peak Ranger District, 601 So. Weber, Colorado Spgs, CO 80903  (719)636-1602
Salida Ranger District, 325 W. Rainbow Blvd., Salida, CO 81201  (719)539-3591
San Carlos Ranger District, 3170 E. Main St., Canon City, CO 81212  (719)269-8500
South Park Ranger District, Box 219, 320 Hwy 285, Fairplay, CO 80440  (719)836-2031  Fax: (719)836-2033
South Platte Ranger District, 19316 Goddard Ranch Court, Morrison, CO 80903  (303)275-5610

For more information contact:

White River National Forest, 900 Grand Ave., PO Box 948, Glenwood Spgs, CO 81602  (970)945-2521  Fax:(970)945-3266  Supervisor's Office
Aspen District, 806 West Halam, Aspen, CO 81611  (970)925-3445  Fax:(970)925-5277  Aspen District
Blanco District, 317 East Market St., Meeker, CO 81641  (970)878-4039  Fax:(970)878-5173  Blanco District
Dillon District, 680 River Parkway, PO Box 620, Silverthorne, CO 80498  (970)468-5400  Fax:(970)468-7735  Dillon District
Eagle District, 125 West Fifth St., PO box 720, Eagle, CO 81631  (970)328-6388  Fax:(970)328-6448  Eagle District
Holy Cross District, 24747 US Hwy 24, PO Box 190, Minturn, CO 81645  (970)827-5715  Fax:(970)827-9343  Holy Cross District
Rifle District, 0094 County Rd 244, Rifle, CO 81650  (970)625-2371  Fax:(970)625-2532  Rifle District
Sopris District, 620 Main St., PO Box 309, Carbondale, CO 81623  (970)963-2266  Fax:(970)963-1012  Sopris District

Wilderness sunset

NOTE: Eloquent descriptions of our wilderness areas provided by Mark Pearson, author of "The Complete Guide to Colorado's Wilderness Areas", Westcliffe Publishers, Englewood, CO. Pictures by renowned photographer and Colorado resident John Fielder.


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