Lizard Head Wilderness

Lizard Head Wilderness.

The 41,496 acre Lizard Head Wilderness lies astride the San Juan Mountains, (10 miles southwest of Telluride and 40 miles northeast of Cortez) within Uncompahgre and San Juan National Forests. Wilson Peak (14,017'), Mt Wilson (14,246'), and El Diente (14,159') are located within the Wilderness.

The domain of more experienced climbers, Mount Wilson and El Diente are connected by a famous knife-edged ridge and considered difficult ascents. The summit of Lizard Head Peak, a 400-foot-tall tower of rotten rock, has been voted as one of Colorado's most dangerous and difficult climbs. Dolores Peak (13,290’) stands in the most western portion of the Wilderness. On a clear day you can stand in snow on any of the area's high peaks and see the red rock canyon lands of southern Utah to the west.

Most of the Lizard Head Trail (#505) is located in this Wilderness. It starts at the junction of County Road 63J /Forest Road #623 and Wilson Mesa Trailhead (East) and ends at Lizard Head Pass south of Telluride.  The steep, scenic trail passes waterfalls and ruins of the Morning Star Mine as it ascends along Bilk Creek.

From the north, the Wilderness can be entered on the Lizard Head Rock of Ages, Woods Lake, Elk Creek and Lone Cone trails. From the south, Groundhog Stock Driveway, Navajo Lake, Kilpacker and Cross Mountain Trails enter the Lizard Head Wilderness.

Human use is moderate to light on the 37 miles of trails. Always use Leave No Trace techniques to help keep this area wild, clean, and pristine.

At a Glance

Usage: Light-Medium
Restrictions: Wilderness restrictions apply.
  • The area within Navajo Basin is closed to campfires.
Closest Towns: Telluride, Colorado; Cortez, Colorado; Ophir, Colorado; Rico, Colorado;
Water: Treat all non-potable water before consuming.
Operated By: Forest Service
Information Center:

General Information


Trailheads/trails that access Lizard head Wilderness:

Telluride, Colorado area trail descriptions and map (PDF)

See also:

General Notes:

National Forest Recreation Maps- Uncompahgre Plateau -Mountain Division West (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

USGS Store: Offers a full, nationwide selection of National Forest, Ranger District, Wilderness, and Specialty Maps for purchase online.

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.