Wilderness Regulations

Wilderness permits are required:

Three Wilderness areas - Holy Cross, Lost Creek, and Mount Evans - require visitors to obtain self-issued permits that are available at each trailhead at no cost. Permits are required in order measure the number of visitors in the Wilderness and educate Wilderness visitors about the benefits of minimizing impacts.


Nation-wide Wilderness regulations:

Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is prohibited. This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, game carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.

Forest –wide Wilderness regulations:

All commercial and non-profit groups are required to obtain a Special Use Permit through the local ranger district office in advance of their trip. If you are using the services of an outfitter-guide, be sure they are licensed and have a Forest Service Permit.

Group size is limited to 15. Stock groups are limited to 25 with a maximum of 15 people.

Dogs must be under control at all times. Dogs can harass, stress, injure or kill wildlife, annoy fellow hikers and introduce disease. Some wilderness areas require dogs be leashed at all times.


  • Secure animals 100- feet away from lakes, streams, and trails. A picket line is less damaging to trees than direct tying. Move stock often when picketing to prevent resource damage.
  • Restraining or grazing of recreational livestock is not permitted within 100 feet of lakes or streams.
  • Only certified weed-free hay or pelletized food is allowed.


  • Camp sites must be at least 100 ft. from trails, lakes, streams, and any water source. Please use an existing site. Before leaving, 'naturalize' your campsite by removing signs of your use.
  • Obey posted signs prohibiting camping or other activities. Some campsites may be closed to allow the area to recover from overuse.


  • Cutting switchbacks in trails is prohibited. Shortcuts cause severe erosion, eventually destroying the trail.

Peak Climbers - Cross Country

  • Delicate alpine tundra is very susceptible to damage. Walk on durable routes of rock or talus. In the spring, travel on snow and rocks, or plan your trip during drier conditions.
  • Check with the local ranger district office on designated routes.


  • Soap, even biodegradable, pollutes the water. Dispose of wash water at least 100 feet away from any water source.
  • Bury human waste in a hole 6-8 inches deep a minimum of 100 feet away from any water source, trail, or campsite.
  • Pack out toilet paper, tampons, and leftover food. Otherwise, animals can dig it up. It is never acceptable to bury trash.  Follow the rule: 'if you pack it in, then pack it out.'


  • A lightweight backpacking stove is recommended. If a campfire is desired, build it in a manner that minimizes impact. Campfires should be at least 100 feet from lakes, streams and trails. Collect only dead and downed wood that is less than three inches in diameter. Remember: if you can't break it by hand, don't use it.
  • Use existing fire rings. Avoid building fires above tree-line. Dead wood removed from Krummholz (dwarf trees near timberline) affects their survival.
  • Do not build a fire on exposed rock surfaces to prevent scarring.
  • If possible, use a fire blanket or a fire pan (like a pan used to change motor oil). Place several inches of soil in the bottom of the pan and build the fire on this. Always use extreme caution and avoid building fires in dry or windy conditions.

Minimum Impact Suggestions and Safety

  • Water- All water can carry giardia, protozoa that affect the human intestinal system, and can cause serious illness. Water can be treated by boiling for 5 minutes, using iodine tables, or filtering.
  • Fires- Campfires are a tradition, but please consider their impacts:
    • Dead and downed wood is a component of the ecosystem.
    • Concentrations of charcoal and ash sterilize soil so consider using a fire pan.
    • Many visitors consider fire-rings an eyesore.
  • Repackage food items to minimize plastic trash that you will need to pack out.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace techniques.