Mount Massive Wilderness Area
Government information and links are at the bottom of this page.
Located in San Isabel National Forest
Neighboring towns: Leadville, Twin Lakes, Aspen, Glenwood Springs, Basalt
"Massive" aptly describes Colorado's second highest peak (14,421 feet), its hulking shape dominating the Sawatch Range's silhouette west of Leadville. Mount Massive's east face spreads broadly along this portion of the Continental Divide, and combined with several other nearby peaks (Mount Elbert, Mount Harvard, and La Plata Peak), it forms a lofty profile that includes four of Colorado's five highest peaks. The North American continent truly crests here, as the Rocky Mountains and the Continental Divide reach higher than anywhere else between the Arctic Ocean and the Isthmus of Panama. These peaks give tangible meaning to the tremendous warping and buckling of the Laramide orogeny and the later Colorado Plateau uplift.
Despite its lofty elevation, Mount Massive is an easy walkup, as are most of the peaks in the Sawatch Range. Glaciation played a relatively mild role in shaping these mountains, nevertheless, a dozen or more glacial lakes dot the wilderness. Extensive, dry lodgepole pine forests blanket the area's lowest slopes, gradually yielding to Engelmann spruce and subalpine fir before the last straggling trees above timberline give way to alpine tundra.
Mount Massive was proposed as an addition to the adjacent Hunter-Fryingpan in 1980. Through a technical oversight, Mount Massive became a separate wilderness, though nothing physically separates the two areas except the imaginary dotted line of the Continental Divide.
Approximately 2,500 acres managed by the Leadville National Fish Hatchery comprise part of the wilderness' eastern section. They are the only designated land within the state managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Elevation: 10,000 to 14,421 feet
Miles of trails: 20
Year designated: 1980
Hunting areas: 47, 48
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
NOTE: coloradowilderness.com gratefully appreciates the 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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