Indian Peaks Wilderness


Mitchell Lake in Indian Peaks Wilderness.

The 76,711 acre Indian Peaks Wilderness Area became part of the Wilderness Preservation System in 1978. With James Peak Wilderness on the south and Rocky Mountain National Park to the north, elevations range from 8,300 to 13,500 feet. Wilderness is wild. Your safety is your responsibility. Review outdoor safety tips.

Groups of more than 12 are prohibited. Day and overnight permits are required year round for outfitter/guides and large organized groups.


  • Permits are issued by night by backcountry zone and are limited and cost $5 per trip. Apply early.
  • Camping is prohibited in the Four Lakes Backcountry Zone from 5/1-11/30 (Backcountry Zone Map).
  • June 1 - September 15: Permits are required for all overnight trips. Overnight permits are limited. Applications are accepted within the same calendar year as the overnight trip.
  • September 16 - May 31: Permits are NOT required for groups of seven people or less unless the trip is organized by an official outfitter/guide. However, all other regulations remain in effect. Scroll down to "restrictions" within the "at a glance" table for more information.
  • Colorado is black bear country: properly hang food or use a bear canister. Review bear safety tips before your trip.


  1. Review the regulations (scroll down to the "restrictions" within the "at a glance" table).
  2. Plan your route with a topographical map. Cross high elevation areas in the early morning hours to avoid severe thunderstorms.
  3. Decide which backcountry zone you are camping within on each day of your trip by viewing the Backcountry Zone Map (pdf, 716Kb). Each zone has a limited number of permits available.
  4. Download and complete the Wilderness Permit Application Form (pdf, 155Kb). 
  5. Mail with a $5 check or bring the completed application form to the office in advance (for summer months, do not apply before January 2).
  6. If your request is sold out, you will be have the option to change your zones and/or dates.

Check summer trail conditions (or winter trail conditions) before your visit. Snow from the winter and spring season can linger through early July depending upon elevation, aspect and tree cover. Areas along the Continental Divide including Buchanan, Devils Thumb, and Caribou Passes can be technical winter routes and very dangerous to all but experienced winter mountaineers if attempted before mid-July. Your safety is your responsibility.



At a Glance

Current Conditions: Outfitter/guides and large (8-12 people) organized groups require permits year round for day and overnight trips. Do not apply prior to January 2 for 2019 dates.
Permit Info: PERMITS ARE LIMITED. APPLY EARLY. Reservations can be made for the summer months as early as January 2. Download a wilderness permit application form (pdf 155 Kb).
Usage: Medium-Heavy
Busiest Season: July & August
Restrictions: Wilderness Regulations (Order No. 10-00-07):
  • Group size is limited to 12 people and livestock combined.
  • Permits are required for all overnight campers 6/1 - 9/15.
  • Permits are always required for large groups of 8-12 people and outfitters/guides.
  • Camping is prohibited in the Four Lakes Backcountry Zone (5/1 - 11/30).
  • In the Diamond, Jasper, Crater, and Caribou Lake Zones, camping is allowed only in designated campsites.
  • Camping is prohibited within 100 feet of lakes, streams and trails.
  • Campfires are prohibited in most areas (see map). Temporary fire restrictions can prohibit campfires in all areas.
  • Pets must be on a hand-held leash at all times.
  • Motorized or mechanized equipment including drones, chain saws and mountain bikes are prohibited.
  • Livestock (horses, llamas) are prohibited in the Four Lakes Backcountry Zone, in the Cascade Backcountry Zone above Cascade Falls, and on the Diamond Lake Trail.
Closest Towns: Granby, Boulder, Nederland, Ward, Winter Park, Grand Lake, Tabernash, Fraser
Water: Treat all non-potable water before consuming.
Operated By: US Forest Service
Information Center:

General Information

General Notes:

Volunteer Groups

Indian Peaks Wilderness Alliance ( is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Reports on current trail conditions can be found on their website. Grand County Wilderness Group is a non-profit group that works to assist the U.S. Forest Service in the preservation, protection, improvement and public understanding of the wilderness areas in Grand County.

Topo maps

Forest Service Topography Maps: These maps overlay Forest Service assets, such as roads, trails, and campgrounds, on USGS's topographic maps. They are available for download by quadrangle.

Buy maps online

National Forest Store: Offers a full, nationwide selection of National Forest, Ranger District, Wilderness, and Specialty Maps for purchase online or by phone, fax, and mail.

Colorado’s Fourteeners

Find more information about climbing Colorado’s peaks at the Rocky Mountain Region 14ers page.

Go to for additional maps and information.


Trails in the Indian Peaks Wilderness:

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information



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Horse Riding & Camping

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Areas & Activities

Campgrounds At-A-Glance


  Latitude : 

  Longitude : 

  Elevation : 
8300' - 13500'