The PSICC is home to nine different congressionally designated Wilderness Areas with over 450,000 acres of untrammeled opportunities for challenge, solitude, tranquility and personal growth. There are regulations in place (e.g., group size, number of stock animals, type of stock feed, campfires, camping locations, and dogs) to minimize human impacts to these Wilderness Areas.
Three of our Wilderness Areas - Holy Cross, Mount Evans and Mount Massive - require visitors to obtain self-issued permits that are available at each trailhead at no cost. Permits are required to measure the number of visitors in the Wilderness and educate Wilderness visitors about the benefits of minimizing impacts.
Holy Cross Wilderness covers 122,000 acres, 9,400 of which are on the San Isabel National Forest. Holy Cross was designated in 1980 and named for the 14,007 ft. Mount of the Holy Cross, so named because a 1,000 ft. tall "cross" of snow is visible year-round. Many small lakes and streams have native trout populations. There are abundant wildlife, plentiful wildflowers and magnificent views.
Mount Massive Wilderness covers 30,540 acres of National Forest land and was officially designated in 1980. It gets its name from Colorado's 2nd highest peak, Mount Massive, at 14,421 feet. There are six other 14,000 ft. peaks in this Wilderness Area. Much of the area is above timberline with many alpine plant communities and permanent snowfields.
The 226,455 acre Sangre De Cristo Wilderness gets its name from the rugged mountains it encompasses and was congressionally delegated in 1993. There are over 60 alpine lakes, 400 miles of streams and over 400 miles of trails to explore. Large aspen stands visible today are a result of heavy fires purposely set in the early 1900's to clear pasture land, expose minerals, and produce charcoal.
Collegiate Peaks Wilderness encompasses 168,000 acres across three National Forests. Its name comes from the numerous 14,000 ft. peaks named after colleges, such as Yale, Harvard and Princeton. Collegiate Peaks is the headwaters for the Arkansas, Gunnison, and Roaring Fork Rivers. The landscape is composed of alpine tundra, high lake basins and glacial river valleys.
Buffalo Peaks Wilderness is one of our smaller Wilderness Areas at 43,400 acres, but it doesn't lack for solitude or challenge. This Wilderness, designated in 1993, was named after the 13,000 ft. Buffalo Peaks. Conifer and aspen intermingle with rolling meadows of grasses and wildflowers.
The 74,400 acres Mount Evans Wilderness sits on two National Forests. Mount Evans and Mount Bierstadt are two popular 14'ers within this Wilderness Area. Because of its close proximity to Denver, the I-70 corridor, and two Scenic Byways this area has less of a remote feel than other Wilderness. Elevations range from 8,600 to 14,264 feet above sea level. Alpine and arctic tundra, Bristlecone Pine, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats are common sites.
Greenhorn Mountain Wilderness contains 22,040 acres that encompass its namesake. It is at the southern end of the Wet Mountains and provides spectacular views of the Wet Mountain Valley to the west and Colorado's plains to the east.
Lost Creek Wilderness was officially designated in the Colorado Wilderness Act of 1980. Today it totals 119,790 acres. Elevations range from 8,000 to 12,400 feet above sea level. It was named after a creek that repeatedly disappears underground only to reappear again further downstream where it ultimately becomes Goose Creek. Nearly 130 miles of trails traverse tree-lined mountain parks, rounded granite domes, alpine tundra and rare granite arches.
Las Cumbres Espanolas, the Spanish Peaks are among the most prominent landmarks of Colorado. Their isolated location and abrupt 7,000 ft. rise from the surrounding landscape made them landmarks for Native American tribes, travelers, traders, and explorers looking for railroad routes west. Today, over 19,000 acres of Wilderness surround these prominent peaks.