Indian Peaks Wilderness

  

Please click on the "Permits & Regulations" link to the right for information about Wilderness regulations.

After September 15th, 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.

NOTE: Designated sites at Diamond Lake, Jasper Lake, Caribou Lake, and Crater Lake are first come, first serve after September 15th.

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 lifezones. It borders the James Peak Wilderness to the south and Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) to the north.

The Indian Peaks Wilderness is located a 45 minute drive west of Boulder and 1-hour drive northwest from Denver.

​Between Memorial Day and Labor Day each year, approximately 150,000+ visitors make the Indian Peaks Wilderness one of the most heavily used wilderness areas in the country due to its close proximity to the Denver/Boulder metro area.

Volunteer Opportunties

  • Indian Peaks Wilderness Alliance (IPWA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Current trail condition reports 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.

At a Glance

Current Conditions: Review summer trail conditions (or winter trail conditions) before your visit to the high country. Snow from the winter and spring season can linger through early July depending upon elevation, aspect and tree cover. Early morning hiking is highly recommended due to severe thunderstorms and lightning that can begin as early as 11 am.
Operational Hours:
Year round
Fees There is a $5.00 fee for each camping permit from June 1 to September 15.
Permit Info:
  • There is a $5.00 fee for each camping permit from June 1 - September 15.
  • The ACE Hardware in Nederland sells backcountry permits for day-of trips only. (NOTE: They do not sell permits for any of the lake zones e.g. Crater, Jasper, Diamond, and Caribou)
Usage: Heavy
Busiest Season: July & August
Restrictions: Wilderness Regulations (Order No. 10-00-07): Group Size:
  • Group size is limited to no more than 12 people or 12 people and livestock combined, year round.
Camping:
  • 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.
  • Camping is prohibited in the Four Lakes Backcountry Zone from May 1 through November 30.
  • The following backcountry zones allow camping in designated sites only:
    • Crater Lake
    • Diamond Lake
    • Jasper Lake
    • Caribou Lake
Campfires:
  • 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
    • Colubmine Lake
    • Gourd Lake
    • Pawnee Lake
    • Upper Cascade Creek (east of Cascade Falls)
Organized Groups and Commmercial Outfitters:
  • A permit is required year-round for all organized groups or commerical 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: Granby, Co; Boulder, CO;  Nederland, Co; Ward, CO; Winter Park, CO; Grand Lake, CO; Tabernash, CO; Fraser, CO
Water: Treat all non-potable water before consuming.
Operated By: US Forest Service
Information Center: Boulder Ranger District: (303) 541-2500
Sulphur Ranger District: (970) 887-4100 

General Information

Directions:

Trails in the Indian Peaks Wilderness:

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

USGS Map Store: Offers a full, nationwide selection of National Forest/Grassland and Specialty Maps for purchase online.


General Notes:

Always use Leave No Trace techniques to help keep this area wild, clean, and pristine.


Accessibility:

Somewhat accessible


Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information

Activities


Hiking

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Horse Riding & Camping

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https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/arp/recarea/?recid=80803