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Lizard Head Wilderness Area

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

Located in San Juan and Uncompahgre National Forests

Neighboring towns: Telluride, Ophir, Silverton, Ouray, Ridgway, Dolores, Stoner

Three rugged fourteeners skirted by flowing forests of white-barked aspen characterize the Lizard Head Wilderness.

Lizard Head Wilderness is a land of ragged mountain splendor, with lovely cirque lakes, fish living in swift mountain streams that often plunge over dramatic waterfalls and a spruce-fir-forest opened by expanses of alpine vegetation. Magnificent golden aspen blanket the lower slopes in vast unbroken reaches every fall. Human use is light on about 37 miles of strenuous trails.

Named for a prominent spire near Lizard Head Pass, this area contains the westernmost 14,000-foot peaks in Colorado. Located in the San Juan Mountain, these fourteeners provide much of the recreational allure of the area, but they are not for the fainthearted. Mount Wilson and El Diente ("the tooth") post two of the most difficult climbs in the state; the exposed knife-edged ridge that connects the peaks can cause an apoplectic reaction among acrophobics. Many visitors to Lizard Head Wilderness are drawn to the magnificent unbroken expanses of aspen draping the area's lower slopes. To top it off, the elegant form of Dolores Peak stands like a silent sentinel, one of the last peaks of the San Juans before the Rockies fade into the arid, desiccated canyons of the Colorado Plateau.

Like the other high peaks of the San Juans, the three fourteeners in Lizard Head consist of igneous intrusions - molten rock that stopped short of the surface and cooled into granite - denser and more resistant than the surrounding volcanic rocks. The Lizard Head formation is an exception to this rule; this free-standing spire is a volcanic neck that crumbled into its present form. Climbing guidebooks call 13,113 foot Lizard Head the most difficult summit in Colorado and do not recommend attempting it because its rock is rotten and unsafe. Instead, walk to the base of the 400 foot formation and admire its beauty from below.

Size: 41,193 acres

Elevation: 9,000 to 14,246 feet

Miles of trails: 37

Year designated: 1980

Hunting areas: 70

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:

San Juan National Forest, 15 Burnett Court, Durango, CO 81301  (970)247-4874  Supervisor Office - Cal Joyner
Rio Grande National Forest, 1803 W. US Hwy 160, Monte Vista, CO 81144  (719)852-5941  Supervisor Office - Deann Zwight
Columbine West Ranger District, 110 W. 11th, Durango, CO 81301  (970)884-2512  District Ranger - Mike Johnson
Columbine East Ranger District, 367 South Pearl St., PO Box 439, Bayfield, CO 81122  (970)884-2512  District Ranger - Mike Johnson
Conejos Peak Ranger District, 15571 County Rd. T-5, PO Box 420, La Jara, CO 81140  (719)274-6301  District Ranger - Carlos Pinto
divide Ranger District, 13308 W. US Hwy 160, PO Box 40, Del Norte, CO 81132  (719)657-3321  District Ranger - Gilbert Becenti
Mancos-Dolores Ranger District, 100 North Sixth, PO Box 210, Dolores, CO 81323  (970)882-7296  District Ranger - Michael Znerold
Pagosa Ranger District, 180 Second St., PO Box 310, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147  (970)264-2268  District Ranger - Jo Bridges
Saguache Ranger District, 46525 Colorado Hwy 114, PO Box 67, Saguache, CO 81149  (719)655-2547  District Ranger - Tom Goodwin

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. The book also contains many beautiful pictures by renowned photographer and Colorado resident John Fielder.


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