Indian Peaks Wilderness


Photo of the Indian Peaks Wilderness sign located in a meadow of wildflowers with snow-capped peaks

The Indian Peaks Wilderness is located along the Continental Divide between Boulder County to the east and Grand County to the west. Bordered by the James Peak Wilderness and Rocky Mountain National Park, Indian Peaks Wilderness is a popular destination for day hiking, backpacking, fishing, and viewing wildlife.

Permits Are Required: Please read all relevant information below prior to obtaining a permit. NOTE: Permit applications for the 2021 season will be found exclusively on starting in mid-March. (Read the press release for more information)


Seasonal Information:

  • June 1 - September 15: Permits are required for all overnight trips.
  • September 16 - May 31: A permit is not required to camp in the Indian Peaks Wilderness for groups with 1-7 people. For large groups (8-12 people), permits are required year round. If you need a large group permit, please contact the Boulder Ranger District office at 303-541-2500.
  • It is critical to reference our Backcountry Zone Map to help plan your trip and ensure you are within the correct zone. 

Safety Information:

At a Glance

Operational Hours:  
Fees There is a $5 fee for each camping permit from June 1 to September 15. charges a $6 vendor reservation fee per reservation. Some trailheads require additional use fees (see Brainard Lake Recreation Area and Arapaho National Recreation Area).
Permit Info: Permits are required for overnight stays in the Indian Peaks Wilderness from June 1 to September 15. Additional permit requirements exist for large and organized groups.
Usage: Heavy
Busiest Season: July & August
Restrictions: Group Size:
  • Group size is limited to no more than 12 people or 12 people and livestock combined, year round.
  • Large group permits (8-12 people) are limited to one day group and one overnight group per zone, per day.
  • A permit is required for anyone planning to stay overnight from June 1 through September 15.
  • Campsites must be located at least 100 feet away from all lakes, streams and trails.
  • The following backcountry zones allow camping only in designated sites year-round:
  • Camping is prohibited in the Four Lakes Backcountry Zone from May 1 through November 30.
  • Campfires are prohibited on the east side of the Continental Divide.
  • Campfires are also prohibited in the following areas west of the Continental Divide:
    • Crater Lake
    • Caribou Lake
    • Columbine Lake
    • Gourd Lake
    • Pawnee Lake
    • Upper Cascade Creek (east of Cascade Falls)
Organized Groups and Commercial Outfitters:
  • A permit is required year-round for all organized groups or commercial outfitters entering the wilderness for day hiking or camping.
  • Organized group permits are limited to one day group and one overnight group per zone, per day.
Closest Towns: Boulder; Nederland; Ward; Winter Park; Grand Lake; Tabernash; Fraser
Water: Lakes and streams; treat water before drinking.
Restroom: Practice Leave No Trace principles.
Operated By: US Forest Service
Information Center: Boulder Ranger District: (303) 541-2500
Sulphur Ranger District: (970) 887-4100 

General Information

General Notes:

Overview: The Indian Peaks Wilderness was designated as a protected wilderness area in 1978 by an act of Congress. It encompasses 73,391 acres with over 50 lakes, 28 trails covering 133 miles, and six passes across the Continental Divide. Elevations in these wilderness areas vary from 8,400 to over 13,500 feet, from montane to sub-alpine and alpine zones. It is bordered by the James Peak Wilderness to the south and Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) to the north.

Trails in the Indian Peaks Wilderness:



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Campgrounds At-A-Glance


  Latitude : 

  Longitude : 

  Elevation : 
8300' - 13500'