Weminuche Wilderness

Wilderness Image

At three quarters the size of Rhode Island, the Weminuche Wilderness is the largest Wilderness area in Colorado at 499,771 acres. It is part of the National Wilderness Preservation System, established by the Wilderness Act of 1964 to "secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness." The Weminuche was designated by Congress in 1975, and expanded by the Colorado Wilderness Acts of 1980 and 1993.

The Weminuche spans the Continental Divide, North America's geological backbone, with its headwaters diverted to both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Eolus, Sunlight, and Windom peaks rise above 14,000 feet, while many others reach above 13,000 feet. With an average elevation of 10,000 feet above sea level, the Weminuche is rugged country, but its ecosystems are fragile.

The Weminuche protects the headwaters of both the Rio Grande River and the San Juan River (which then runs into the Colorado River) providing clear drinking water to millions of people. 

As you visit, you will join thousands of others who travel in the Weminuche each year. You can help protect the Wilderness through your knowledge and skills, and by complying with regulations. Many people are not aware of the impacts they cause -- please practice low-impact camping and use common sense

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

Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Rail Road

Needleton/Chicago Basin DSNGRR Train Drop-off Information 

Trip Planning Information:



At a Glance

Restrictions: Wilderness restrictions apply.
  • Specific restrictions applies to Needle Creek Drainage, Vestal Basin, Twin Lakes, Emerald Lake, Little Emerald Lake, Flint Lake, Fourmile Lake, Archuleta Lake, Weminuche Trail, East Fork Trail, West Fork (Rainbow Hot Spring), and West Ute Lake
Closest Towns: Silverton, CO; South Fork, CO; Durango, CO; Bayfield, CO; Pagosa Springs, CO; Creede, CO
Water: Treat all non-potable water before consuming.
Operated By: Forest Service
Information Center: Columbine & Pagosa Ranger Districts, San Juan National Forest

General Information

General Notes:

Topo maps

Recommended maps for the Weminuche Wilderness are the National Geographic Weminuche Wilderness Map #140, or the Mountains Between Silverton and Durango.

Buy maps online

San Juan Mountains Association Map and Book store has 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.

See also:


Day Hiking


Horse Riding

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities