Wilderness areas


Machin Lake in La Garita Wilderness.

Wilderness is defined as a portion of land set aside by the 1964 Congressional Wilderness Act that will remain unspoiled for future generations. The Wilderness Act gave the U.S. Forest Service a mandate to manage these special lands so they would be "an enduring resource," one that would remain "unimpaired for future use and enjoyment as wilderness."

In contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate that landscape, a wilderness is recognized as an area '…where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain". Wilderness areas are generally over 5,000 acres in size and may contain ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, scenic, or historical value.

Please view the special regulations associated with Wilderness and always use Leave No Trace techniques to help keep these areas wild, clean, and pristine.

Rio Grande National Forest manages four Wilderness areas: 

At a Glance

Usage: Medium
Restrictions: Wilderness restrictions apply.
Water: Treat all non-potable water before consuming.
Operated By: Forest Service
Information Center: Rio Grande National Forest offices

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 Wilderness.net for additional maps and information about Wilderness.

Backcountry Ethics

Practice Leave No Trace techniques to prevent and minimize your impact on the land and to other visitors.



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Horse Riding & Camping

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