Collegiate Peaks Wilderness

Collegiate Peaks Wilderness was designated by the United States Congress in 1980, and it now has a total of 167,584 acres. Located in Colorado, this wilderness spans the Gunnison, White River and Pike & San Isabel National Forests.

With eight "fourteeners" (peaks exceeding 14,000 feet in elevation), Collegiate Peaks Wilderness probably possesses the highest average elevation of any wilderness in the Lower 48. The peaks include Huron Peak (14,005'), Missouri Mountain (14,067'), Mt. Columbia (14,073'), Mt. Oxford (14,153' ), Mt. Yale (14,196'), Mt. Belford (14,197'), La Plata (14,340 ft., the state's fifth highest point) and Mt. Harvard (14,420', the state's third highest point).

Climbing these peaks is a very popular activity, making opportunities for solitude very elusive. Expect to be inundated by people and their dogs on any "fourteener" trail. As you travel through the area, you might notice unusual and deep indentations in the boundary line. These are a legacy of man's hunt for gold and other valuable metals that are still sought just outside. More than a dozen trailheads create a situation in which no one ever stands more than five miles from a road.

About 40 miles of the serpentine Continental Divide snake across the area, and this expansive wilderness lies in parts of three national forests. The beauty of this place and its ease of access ensure torrents of visitors, especially on weekends. Timberline lakes and high mountain streams offer excellent fishing and scenery. Browns Pass, Red Mountain Creek, Texas Creek and Magdalena trails are in this wilderness.

Please help keep wilderness wild by following Leave No Trace practices. In particular, please refrain from having camp fires near treeline. The dwarfed Krummholtz trees that grow there are are being damaged by insensitive campers.

At a Glance

Usage: Medium-Heavy
Busiest Season: June-September
Restrictions: Wilderness regulations apply
Closest Towns: Buena Vista & Leadville, CO
Operated By: U.S. Forest Service
Information Center:

General Information


Some access points to Collegiate Peaks Wilderness at Pike and San Isabel National Forests:

See also:

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.

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 about Wilderness.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Day Hiking


Horse Riding

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


  • 'Queen of the 14ers' Link opens in a new window

    She is the agency’s Colorado Fourteeners Program manager; others simply refer to her as ‘Queen of the 14ers’.


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