Weminuche Wilderness

Weminuche Wilderness Adventure guide

Weminuche Wilderness is the largest wilderness area in Colorado, a mountainous expanse that straddles the continental divide and offers countless opportunities for outdoor adventure, including hiking, backpacking, mountaineering, camping, and much more.

The 499,771-acre wilderness is within two national forests, the San Juan National Forest on the west side of the Continental Divide and the Rio Grande National Forest on the east side of the divide. 

Weminuche Wilderness has a variety of different ecosystems ranging from high alpine to montane and grassland. The average elevation within Weminuche Wilderness is 10,000 feet, with elevation ranging from 7,000 feet above sea level to over 14,000 feet. 

It’s also popular for mountaineering, with three mountains within the wilderness–Eolus, Sunlight, and Windom peaks–rising above 14,000 feet and many others over 13,000 feet.

The area is particularly popular backpacking, with 31 trailheads offering access to several hundred miles of maintained trails, including sections of the Colorado Trail and the Continental Divide Trail.

Weminuche Wilderness Hiking

Weminuche Wilderness hiking and campingmap

Hiking is the perfect way to explore the wilderness area, and there are over 250 miles of trails. 

These trails allow you to explore the wilderness area’s variety of different ecosystems, from high alpine tundra to montane forests and grassland meadows.

One fun way to explore the wilderness is to use the historic Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad to access the Needle Creek Trail which will bring you to Chicago Basin, a popular area of the wilderness that puts you near the areas three 14,000-foot peaks.

A few popular day hiking routes in the wilderness include the Molas Trail to Animas River hike, the Highland Mary Lakes Trail, the Purgatory Flats Trail and the Vallecito Trail. There are many other trails in the wilderness for day hiking and backpacking.

Weminuche Wilderness Camping

There are a number of developed and primitive campgrounds located around the edge of Weminuche Wilderness and dispersed camping is allowed within certain areas of the wilderness. 

If you are planning to backpack in the wilderness and plan to stay overnight, check with the Forest Service office on what areas are open for dispersed camping. Permits are required. 

Campgrounds near Weminuche Wilderness include:

For detailed information on wilderness travel and backcountry camping in the area, visit the National Forest Service webisite.

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