Fossil Ridge Wilderness

Fossil Ridge Wilderness is located approximately 16 miles northeast of the town of Gunnison, Colorado. Covering 32,179 acres, the area is made up of raw granite that overlooks several shallow high mountain lakes and long valleys carved by ancient glaciers. Pine, spruce, fir, and aspen are found here. The limestone ridge rises above 13,000 feet, climbing well beyond the tree line, and contains the fossilized remains of numerous prehistoric sea creatures.

Above Lamphier Lake, a very slim cut in the bare rock called Gunsight Pass opens the ridge for foot travel from South Lottis Creek's drainage to Crystal Creek's drainage. Square Top Mountain, approximately 12,500 feet high and about an hour's worth of climbing above Lamphier Lake, allows a clear view of almost half of Colorado's fourteen foot peaks.

Past miners searching for gold dug at several sites which are still scarred by their efforts. Elk and deer thrive in the area along with a small group of mountain goats and a larger herd of bighorn sheep.

The Wilderness is surrounded by the Fossil Ridge Recreation Management Area which is approximately 44,000 acres in size. Roads and trails within the Recreation Management Area are open to mechanized and motorized uses.

The 26 miles of trail within the Wilderness are open to foot and horse travel only. Always use Leave No Trace techniques to help keep this area wild, clean, and pristine.

At a Glance

Usage: Medium
Restrictions: Wilderness restrictions apply.
Closest Towns: Gunnison, Colorado; Pitkin, Colorado;
Water: Treat all non-potable water before consuming.
Operated By: Forest Service
Information Center: Gunnison Ranger District

General Information

General Notes:

National Forest Recreation Map- North Gunnison (pdf) (Zoomify)

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 Fourteen Thousand Foot Peaks (14ers)

Fourteen Thousand Foot Peaks on the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forest.

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

Go to for additional maps and information about Wilderness.


Fossil Ridge Wilderness is located approximately 16 miles northeast of the town of Gunnison, Colorado. Trailheads/trails that access Fossil Ridge Wilderness:

Southern access via Forest Road 771:

Northern access via County Road 742: