Near Durango, we’re working to acquire three mining claims In the Weminuche Wilderness. The inholdings are on the popular trail to the Chicago Basin, a glorious backcountry adventure. Hikers ride the Durango-Silverton Railroad up the Animas River Valley to the trailhead amidst 14,000-foot peaks.


In 1992 the Wilderness Land Trust began working in Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley near Aspen. Since then we’ve protected 5,661 acres in 20 wilderness areas throughout Colorado where outdoor recreation is a mainstay of the economy. Inholdings in Colorado’s wilderness areas include hundreds of mining claims and potential home sites that if developed would fray the surrounding wilderness and limit access to backcountry destinations.

Browns Canyon Proposed Wilderness

Chaffee County (United States Forest Service)

8.96 acres transferred

The proposed Browns Canyon wilderness in Colorado’s pristine canyon country is an important wintering ground for deer and elk. Bighorn sheep were successfully reintroduced into Browns Canyon in the 1980s. Mountain lions, black bears, bobcats, foxes, coyotes and pine martens also live here. The Browns Canyon section of the Arkansas River is renowned for whitewater recreation, hiking and fishing. The proposed wilderness contains a stretch of the historic Turret Foot and Horse Trail, used by prospectors traveling from Nathrop to the old mining town of Turret in the 1800s. The Wilderness Land Trust acquired a 9-acre cabin site north of Salida to ensure that the land remains undeveloped and available for inclusion in the wilderness area.

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Cahone Canyon Wilderness Study Area

Dolores County (Bureau of Land Management)

39.9 acres transferred

The proposed wilderness includes both Cross Canyon and Cahone Canyon Wilderness Study Areas. The canyons comprise the northwest corner of the Canyons of the Ancients, proclaimed a National Monument by President Bill Clinton in June 2000.   The steep canyon rims drop abruptly from surrounding mesas into 300 to 900-foot deep canyons. Inviting pools and waterfalls fill canyon bottoms lined by graceful cottonwood trees. Cross Canyon contains a lush desert riparian zone.

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Camel Back Wilderness Study Area

Montrose County (Bureau of Land Management)

160 acres transferred

Roubideau Creek carved this unique canyon in western Colorado named for fur trapper Antoine Robidoux. The canyon originates in subalpine spruce and aspen forests high on the Uncompahgre Plateau and winds for 20 miles north to the Gunnison River. The study area encompasses the lower eight miles where colorful canyon walls rise above the lush riparian ecosystem along the creek. Wildlife includes black bear, deer, bobcat, mountain lion, golden eagle and bighorn sheep that have been successfully reintroduced to the area.

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Collegiate Peaks Wilderness

Chaffee County (USDA Forest Service)

19 acres purchased

659.17 acres transferred

With eight "fourteeners" (peaks exceeding 14,000 feet in elevation), Collegiate Peaks Wilderness probably possesses the highest average elevation of any Wilderness in the Lower 48. You can climb Mounts Yale, Oxford, Columbia, and Harvard (the state's third highest point), as well as Huron Peak, Missouri Mountain, Mount Belford, and La Plata Peak (the state's fifth highest point). About 40 miles of the serpentine Continental Divide snake across the area, and this expansive Wilderness lies in parts of three national forests.

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Eagles Nest Wilderness

Eagle County (USDA Forest Service)

43.23 acres transferred

Following years of wrangling over its water and timber resources, the 134,000-acre Eagles Nest Wilderness was ultimately protected as wilderness in 1976. The Eagles Nest is in the Gore Range, one of the most rugged ranges in Colorado. Its highest peak, the 13,534-foot Mount Powell, is named for the explorer John Wesley Powell, who made its first known ascent in 1868. Many peaks stand at more 12,000 feet. Melting snows feed marshy meadows, sloughs and thundering creeks in spring. Hikers on these strenuous trails are rewarded with radiant alpine lakes at trails end.

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Flat Tops Wilderness

Rio Blanco County (USDA Forest Service)

2.5 acres transferred

At 235,214 acres, the Flat Tops is Colorado’s second largest wilderness area. In 1919 an official of the U.S. Forest Service, Arthur Carhart, visited the Flat Tops and became an early advocate for its preservation. It was designated as a federal wilderness in 1975. Volcanic cliffs loom behind Trappers Lake with vast open terrain stretching beyond. More than a hundred lakes and ponds dot the land above and below flat-topped cliffs.  More than 160 miles of trails make this ideal country for horsepackers and hikers. Some 20,000 Rocky Mountain elk use the Flat Tops as summer range.

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Holy Cross Wilderness

Eagle County (USDA Forest Service)

528 acres transferred

This 123,000-acre wilderness designated in 1980 is dominated by the 14,005-foot Mount of the Holy Cross, one of 25 peaks in the area that reach more than 13,000 feet. Snowmelt feeds cascading streams, emerald lakes and wide green valleys. Aspen groves turn the ridges golden in September. Deer, elk, black bears, bobcats and lynx live here, and trout ply the wilderness’s many streams.  About 164 miles of trails lead into the wilderness. Hikers and backpackers vacation here in summer. Cross-country skiers flock to the area in the winter.

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Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness

Pitkin County (USDA Forest Service)

37.19 acres transferred

The 82,000-acre Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness designated in 1978 is bordered on all sides by wilderness: the Mount Massive Wilderness on the east, the Holy Cross on the north, the Maroon Bells-Snowmass on the west and Collegiate Peaks on the south.  Hunter-Fryingpan rises to the Continental Divide. Its many streams support large numbers of trout. Forests of aspen in the lower elevations give way to spruce and fir higher up, with alpine tundra dappled with summer wildflowers higher still. Wildlife includes elk, mule deer and rarely seen smaller mammals.

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Indian Peaks Wilderness

Boulder County (USDA Forest Service)

205.15 acres transferred


The 78,000-acre Indian Peaks Wilderness, designated in 1978, is bordered by the James Peak Wilderness on the south and the Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness to the north. The range is easily seen from the Denver area, its sawtooth profile running south from Longs Peak to James Peak. Seven of the Indian Peaks stand over 13,000-feet. Its proximity to the city makes it one of the most visited wilderness areas in Colorado. Glaciers, along with the turquoise lakes they carved, are found here. Chilly winds and perpetual snowfields make for stunted trees and unusual alpine plants above tree line.

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James Peak Wilderness

Gilpin County (USDA Forest Service)

1638.12 acres transferred

The 14,000-acre James Peak Wilderness, designated in 2002 was a missing link in a chain of protected lands reaching from Wyoming down the Continental Divide to central Colorado. The wilderness area and its most prominent peak are named for Dr. Edwin James, an early explorer, historian and botanist who was a member of the Long Expedition that arrived here in 1820. The area remains home to wildlife, including rare Canada lynx, wolverine and pine marten. Some 20 miles of trails lead through dramatic mountain scenery.

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Lizard Head Wilderness

Dolores County (USDA Forest Service)

17.5 acres transferred

Designated in 1980, the 41,000-acre Lizard Head Wilderness is named for Lizard Head Peak, a 400-foot-tall tower considered Colorado's most dangerous and difficult climb by many mountaineers. Many visitors are drawn to the magnificent unbroken expanses of aspen draping the area's lower slopes and views of three of Colorado's “fourteeners.” From the higher vantages one be standing in snow while looking out over the arid, rocky canyons of the Colorado Plateau.

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Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness

Pitkin County (USDA Forest Service)

962.45 acres transferred


The Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, designated in 1964, is 182,000 acres of Rocky Mountain splendor.  With several 12,000 foot passes, vast regions above the tree line, long glacial valleys and glistening alpine lakes, this area draws thousands of visitors every year. Six peaks rising above 14,000 feet make the area a favorite destination of climbers. The awesome, jagged symmetry of the Maroon Bells reflected in Maroon Lake, may be Colorado's most photographed mountain scene.

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Mount Massive Wilderness (COMPLETED)

Pitkin County (USDA Forest Service)

38 acres transferred

20.66 acres owned


The 30,000-acre Mount Massive Wilderness west of Leadville was designated in 1980.  Colorado’s second highest peak, the 14, 421-foot Mount Massive spreads broadly along this portion of the Continental Divide. This is where the Rocky Mountains crest—a place higher than any other land form between the Arctic Ocean and the Isthmus of Panama.

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Mount Sneffels

Ouray County (USDA Forest Service)

20.67 acres transferred

The Mount Sneffels Wilderness totals nearly 17,000 acres outside Ouray in western Colorado. At 14,150-feet, Mount Sneffels is the highest point in the wilderness. Sneffels is the Nordic word for snowfield. It's a magnet for technical climbers who consider it Colorado's best and most beautiful mountain.

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Never Summer Wilderness

Grand County (USDA Forest Service)

43.41 acres transferred

The Never Summer Wilderness, designated in 1980, comprises 21,090 acres in northern Colorado. Seventeen summits rise above 12,000 feet with Howard Mountain, at 12,810 feet, towering over all. The wilderness gets copious amounts of rain and snow that feed the headwaters of three rivers, the Colorado, North Platte and Cache la Poudre. With so much precipitation, the trees grow to be exceptionally large. Some spruce and fir in Bowen Gulch measure four feet in diameter and are estimated to be 600 years old. The Bowen Gulch Trail offers a 5-mile route into the oldest of the old growth.

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Raggeds Wilderness

Gunnison County (USDA Forest Service)

695.66 acres transferred

The Raggeds Wilderness, designated in 1980, enfolds 65,000 acres near Aspen and Crested Butte. Prominent rocky slopes form a serrated ridge that gives the Raggeds Wilderness its name. Ragged Mountain in the north rises to 12,094 feet. Anthracite Creek passes through the heart of the wilderness in an area ribboned with waterways. Hikers ford the Slate River to access the seven miles of the Oh-Be-Joyful Pass Trail. Expanses of aspens glow gold in the fall.

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Rocky Mountain National Park

Boulder County (National Park Service)

12.5 acres purchased

This living showcase of the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains, with elevations ranging from 7,860 feet in the wet, grassy valleys to 14,259 feet at the weather-ravaged top of Longs Peak, provides visitors from around the world with countless opportunities for breathtaking experiences and adventures. The Continental Divide runs northwest to southeast through the center of the wilderness atop the high peaks. Over one-third of the wilderness above treeline with more than sixty peaks over 12,000 feet. Longs Peak is the highest peak, and is an extremely popular destination during the summer months; Mount Meeker, at 13,911 feet, rises to the south.


The headwaters of four major river basins; the Big Thompson, North Fork of the Colorado, North Fork of the St. Vrain, and the Cache La Poudre Rivers find their beginnings in the upper glaciated cirques. The slopes and valleys below these high peaks are mix of subalpine wonder, clear lakes, cold streams, spectacular forests of spruce, fir, lodgepole and ponderosa pine, and vibrant meadows supporting the robust biodiversity of the area. All rich with wildlife – mountain lions, elk, moose, bighorn sheep, mule deer, black bears, coyotes, eagles, hawks, songbirds, trout, and scores of smaller creatures – that delight wildlife watchers of all ages. (

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Sangre de Cristo Wilderness

Alamosa County (USDA Forest Service)

20.63 acres transferred

Designated in 1993 the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness harbors 228,000 acres in southwestern Colorado. The name reflects the longtime Spanish influence in these mountains and in the San Luis Valley, below. There are four “fourteeners” including Crestone Needle, at 14,197 feet considered one of Colorado's most challenging climbs. Snowmelt feeds the area’s many creeks and small lakes. Black bear, mountain lions, elk, deer and bighorn sheep are year-round residents.

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Spanish Peaks Wilderness

Las Animas County (USDA Forest Service)

306.52 acres transferred

Designated in 2000, the Spanish Peaks Wilderness totals almost 20,000 acres. Las Cumbres Espanolos, The Spanish Peaks, are geologically distinct from the surrounding Sangre de Cristos and have served as a landmark throughout history, including 17th century Spanish explorers and travelers on the Santa Fe Trail. Snow-capped summits rising to 7,000 feet are sacred to tribes including the Apache, Comanche and Ute. Colorful rock walls, abundant wildlife and unusual combinations of bristlecone, limber, ponderosa pines, Douglas fir and Engemann spruce are found here.  

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La Plata County (USDA Forest Service)

20.63 acres purchased

157.20 acres transferred

The Weminuche Wilderness, established in 1975, occupies more than 488,000 acres in southwestern Colorado and is the state’s largest designated wilderness area. It's average elevation is 10,000 feet. Eolus, Sunlight and Windom Peaks rise above 14,000 feet, while many others reach above 13,000 feet. The Continental Divide, the geological spine of North America, cuts for 50 miles through the Weminuche, directing its waters to both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

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West Elk

Gunnison County (USDA Forest Service)

80 acres purchased

West Elk Wilderness within Gunnison National Forest is 176,412 acres, the fifth largest Wilderness in Colorado. Elevations range from 7,000 to over 13,000 feet. This Wilderness is a large untamed area with little visitation.

Elk and deer number in the thousands. Here you’ll find mountain passes leading to secluded valleys filled with beaver ponds and lined with trembling aspen that turn gold in September. Past volcanic activity has produced long lava flows in the area. Ridges have been crumbled and carved by wind and water into fantastic turrets, pinnacles, and crenellated bulwarks. The topography is reflected in many of the area's geographic names: Castle Pass, Castle View, Castle Creek, and the Castles.

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Uncompahgre Wilderness

Hinsdale County (US Forest Service)

10.33 acres purchased

The United States Congress designated the Uncompahgre Wilderness (map) in 1980 and it now has a total of 102,721 acres. In 1980 the United States Congress designated the Uncompahgre Wilderness which has a total of 102,721 acres. The name comes from a Ute Indian word with one of the translations being "dirty water". This wilderness is located in the north-central region of the San Juan Mountains in Colorado. There are two fourteeners and at least twenty-five thirteen foot peaks in the Uncompahgre Wilderness. Big Blue Creek flows off Uncompahgre Peak (14,309 feet) in this rough and majestic section of the San Juan Mountains, which was formerly known as Big Blue Wilderness Area. When BLM land was added in 1993, including the rolling gentle tundra of American Flats, the name was changed. Today, the Uncompahgre Wilderness combines USFS land with BLM land on its south side.

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White River National Forest

Summit County (USDA Forest Service)

56.77 acres transferred





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Carbondale, Colorado




About 3.3 million acres of largely National Forest land has been designated as wilderness in Colorado since passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964. The first wilderness areas designated in Colorado were the Maroon Bells-Snowmass, La Garita, Mount Zirkel, Rawah, and West Elk Wildernesses, as part of original 1964 Wilderness Act.