Collegiate Peaks Wilderness - White River

Rocky and sloped river valley in Collegiate Peaks Wilderness

The United States Congress designated the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness (map) in 1980 and it now has a total of 167,584 acres. All of this wilderness is located in Colorado and lies in part of three national forests; the White River, Gunnison and Pike San Isabel.  

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 including;  Mounts Yale, Oxford, Columbia, and Harvard (the state's third highest point), as well as Huron Peak, Missouri Mountain, Mount Belford, and La Plata Peak (the state's fifth 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. The beauty of this place and its ease of access ensure torrents of visitors, especially on weekends.

The White River National Forest portion of the Collegiate Peaks is much quieter than the high peaks to the East.  Five short hikes accessed from highway 82 and Lincoln Creek road lead to alpine lakes, expansive bowls full of wildlife and solitude.

Protect this special place for the future by always using Leave No Trace techniques and following all special Wilderness restrictions.

Alert: Refrain from having camp fires near treeline. The dwarfed krummholz trees that grow there have received extensive damage from insensitive campers.

Do your part! Commit to honoring the legacy of wilderness by sharing the responsibility of wilderness stewardship.

At a Glance

Usage: Heavy
Restrictions: Wilderness restrictions apply
Water: Treat all non-potable water before consuming.
Passes: Wilderness permits are required. Self-issuing permits are available at trailheads free of charge.
Operated By: Forest Service
Information Center:

General Information


See also:

General Notes:

Wilderness Videos

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Day Hiking


Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


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