Never Summer Wilderness: Arapaho & Roosevelt

Never Summer Wilderness

Never Summer Wilderness, designated by the United States Congress in 1980, now encompasses a total of 21,090 acres. Never Summer Wilderness shares its eastern boundary with Rocky Mountain National Park and includes diverse landscapes from forested ridges to steep tundra ranging in elevation from 8,900 to 12,520 feet. Spruce, fir and lodgepole pine blanket the lower elevations.

Never Summer Wilderness receives large amounts of rain and snow and provides water to three major rivers: the Colorado, the North Platte, and the Cache la Poudre. Above 10,000 feet, trees grow old and large in ravines that contain excess available moisture. The Bowen Gulch Trail travels about five miles into some of the oldest Spruce and fir trees in the area.

Various ponds and bogs in the north of the Wilderness provide rare habitats for wood frogs, bog bean and pygmy shrew. Moose have been reintroduced successfully to the area and several lakes and streams provide habitat for trout.

Never Summer Wilderness offers about 20 miles of trails that lead up gulches and traverse the Continental Divide on two high passes. This area is the scenic backdrop to portions of Trail Ridge Road which travels through Rocky Mountain National Park.

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

At a Glance

Current Conditions: The wilderness area is open with fire scaring and burned areas around the southwest edges, including Bowen lake.
Usage: Medium
Restrictions: Wilderness regulations apply
  • Motorized equipment, or mechanized transportation is prohibited, including motorcycles, chain saws, bicycles or carts. Wheelchairs are exempt.
  • Group size is limited to a combination of 15 people and livestock with the maximum number of 10 people in any group.
  • Camping and campfires are prohibited within 100’ feet of all lakes, streams and trails to protect water quality, sensitive vegetation and to help assure solitude. Thin soils and mountain vegetation are easily damaged by fire and fires scar rocks and soil. Use a stove, a fire pan or an existing fire ring when and where fires are allowed.
  • Campfires are prohibited in the alpine areas above 10,800 feet. Campfires consume scarce vegetation and leave permanent scars on the fragile soils of the area.
  • Pets must be on a handheld leash at all times.
  • Certified weed-free forage is required on all public land. Only pelletized or steam-rolled feed grains, or certified weed-free hay, straw, or mulch are allowed.
  • Stock: must not be hobbled, tethered or picketed within 100’ feet of any lakes, streams or trails. This protects fragile vegetation and keeps lakes and streams clean.
  • Pets must be under control at all times. Do not allow dogs or other domestic animals to harass wildlife, stock or cause conflicts with other visitors or their property.
Closest Towns: Granby, Colorado
Water: Treat all non-potable water before consuming.

General Information

General Notes:

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.


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