Special Places

Wilderness areas

Pyramid Peak in Weminuche WildernessWilderness is defined as a portion of land set aside by the 1964 Congressional Wilderness Act that will remain unspoiled for future generations. The Wilderness Act gave the U.S. Forest Service a mandate to manage these special lands so they would be "an enduring resource," one that would remain "unimpaired for future use and enjoyment as wilderness."

Rio Grande National Forest manages four Wildernesses: La Garita, Sangre de Cristo, South San Juan and Weminuche.

Wilderness 50th Anniversary

Wilderness Act 50th Anniversary logo and link to the 50th Anniversary National Wilderness Planning Team (Wilderness50) websiteOn September 3, 1964 President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Wilderness Act. This historic bill established the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS) and set aside an initial 9.1 million acres of wildlands for the use and benefit of the American people.

Highlighted Areas

North Clear Creek Falls Observation Site

This Overlook facility is situated as a stop on the Silverthread Scenic Byway right along State Hiway 149. It offers a new restroom, picnic tables, ample paved parking for even larger vehicles, trails to the overlook, safety railings, and interpretive signs. It is handicap accessible, with a handicap trail to a high lookout spot.  This makes a great rest stop and Photography Opportunity.

Wheeler Geologic Area

Wheeler Geologic Area is part of the La Garita Wilderness, within this area you will find many trails, some nearby peaks over 13,000 ft and amazing views. Located near the old mining town of Creede, Wheeler is accessible by a 7 mile hike or a grueling 14 mile four wheel drive road. Your efforts are rewarded by views of a remarkable geologic formation of moderately coarse volcanic tuff eroded into many different shapes.   Advice is to plan a whole day trip in order to travel into Wheeler, enjoy the formations, and then get back out.  It is not a short, easy trip. ROAD IS EXTREMELY ROUGH WITH DEEP RUTS      HIGH CLEARANCE JEEP OR ATV TRAVEL IS RECOMMENDED.

In addition to trail # 790, East Bellows Creek Trail, from Hansons Mill, # 789 Wason- Wheeler Trail from north of Creede there are several trails  that either lead to Wheeler or from Wheeler on into the La Garita Wilderness. Check out the details for the following trails, 871, 912, 784, 783 and 888.

There is a lot of information available on the internet, the following are two good sites to visit: www.gorp.com/parks-guide/travel-ta-rio-grande-national-forest-colorado-sidwcmdev_066105.html and www.sangres.com/features/wheelergeologic.htm

At the end of the Wheeler Road #600 there are several dispersed campsites for the public to use.  You are not allowed to camp or have campfires inside the area of the formations. Dispersed camping is allowed at Hansons Mill site located just south of the East Bellows Creek trailhead.