Mt. Sneffels Wilderness

Sneffels Wilderness

Mt. Sneffels Wilderness covers 16,587 acres on the Uncompahgre National Forest near the communities of Telluride, Ridgway and Ouray in Colorado. Only 15 miles of constructed trail enter this rugged area. The area is striking in early fall when dustings of snow highlight the jagged terrain and aspens have turned gold. Elevations range from 9,600’ to 14,150’ at the top of Mount Sneffels.

Sneffels is the Nordic word for snowfield. Westward stretches a sheer vertical world of sharp ridges, icy slopes, and ragged peaks. It makes for dangerous climbing typical of the San Juan Mountains, sometimes called America's Switzerland. Technical climbers are still discovering new routes here, but loose volcanic rock often moves the rating from "dangerous" to "very dangerous."

Trails in the eastern and western portions access well renowned wildflower displays, especially in Yankee Boy Basin just outside the eastern boundary, where you'll find the Blue Lakes Trail leading into the area for about 3.5 miles. Blue Lakes huddle below the western edge of Mount Sneffels in a deep basin. The harsh central region of the area is extremely rugged and relatively seldom explored.

Trails within the Wilderness include the Blue Lakes, Alder, Dallas Whipple Mountain and Deep Creek. The Sneffels Highline Trail starts near Telluride and extends into the Wilderness. Blue Lakes and Mount Sneffels receive high visitor use and should be avoided on weekends and holidays.

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

At a Glance

Usage: Medium-Heavy
Restrictions: Wilderness restrictions apply.
  • Camp sites in the Blue Lakes are limited in number.
  • Campfires are prohibited in the Blue Lakes area.
  • No camping within 100 feet of water and designated trails in the Blue Lakes area.
Closest Towns: Telluride, Colorado; Ridgway, Colorado; Ouray, Colorado
Water: Treat all non-potable water before consuming.
Restroom: Blue Lakes Trailhead
Operated By: Forest Service
Information Center: Norwood & Ouray Ranger Districts, Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forest

General Information

General Notes:

National Forest Recreation Maps - Interactive Visitor Map

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.


Trialheads/trails that access Mount Sneffels Wilderness:

Telluride area trail descriptions and map (PDF)