Indian Peaks Wilderness
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 can now be found exclusively on recreation.gov (Read the press release for more information). Please note that permits can be purchased on recreation.gov on a tablet/mobile device by navigating to the website, but are NOT available on the recreation.gov mobile app.
For current Fire Restrictions and other important information, visit our Know Before You Go page.
- 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.
- It is critical to reference our Backcountry Zone Map to help plan your trip and ensure you are within the correct zone.
- Check trail conditions before your visit. Snow from the winter and spring season can linger through early July.
- Colorado is black bear country. Properly hang food or use a bear canister. Review bear safety tips before your trip.
- Wilderness is wild. Your safety is your responsibility. Review outdoor safety tips.
At a Glance
|Current Conditions:||Snow levels can impact trails at high elevation up until mid-July. Significant levels of snow, ice, and steep cornices often make Buchanan Pass and and Devil's Thumb Pass impassable into mid July.|
|Fees:||There is a $5 fee for each camping permit from June 1 to September 15. Permits are Recreation.gov charges a $6 vendor reservation fee per reservation. Some trailheads require additional use fees (see Brainard Lake Recreation Area and Arapaho National Recreation Area). Permits are available for purchase at recreation.gov.|
|Permit Info:||Permits are required for overnight stays in the Indian Peaks Wilderness from June 1 to September 15 and are available for purchase at recreation.gov. Additional permit requirements exist for large and organized groups.|
|Busiest Season:||July & August|
|Restrictions:||Leave No Trace:
|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 InformationGeneral 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:
- Arapaho Glacier
- Arapaho Pass
- Beaver Creek
- Buchanan Pass (east)
- Buchanan Pass (west)
- Caribou Pass
- Cascade Creek
- Columbine Lake
- Coney Lake
- Devil's Thumb
- Diamond Lake
- Gourd Lake
- High Lonesome
- Isabelle Glacier
- Jean Lunning
- King Lake
- Knight Ridge
- Mitchell Lake
- Mount Audubon
- Pawnee Pass
- Rainbow Lakes
- Roaring Fork
- Saint Vrain Glacier
- Saint Vrain Mountain
- Woodland Lake