100summits - Colorado's Mountain Ranges
The Wet Mountains are one of the less heralded ranges in Colorado; however, they deserve some real attention from any series hiker or climber for several reasons. For starters, the summits of the Wet Mountains offer incredible views of the Sangre de Cristo range to the south and west. Secondly, the Wet mountains are home to one of the most prominent summits in all of Colorado - Greenhorn Mountain. Lastly, due to the lack of uber-high summits, the Wet Mountains are rarely travelled and offer solitude in the wonderfully fertile San Isabel National Forest. The Greenhorn Mountain Wilderness Area, a…
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Rampart Range is a sub-range of the Front Range. Rampart Range spans the area north of Pikes Peak and terminates west of the city of Castle Rock. As seen below, one prominent and popular feature within Rampart Range is Rampart Reservoir, one of the main sources of water in the Pikes Peak region. Rampart Reservoir lies between the United States Air Force Academy and Woodland Park.
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Puma Hills is a sub-range of the Front Range. The terrain within Puma Hills is full of interesting outcroppings, old mining claims, and vertical rock features. A climber can spend many outings here as the area offers many very fun class 4 and 5 rocks that may not be listed as summits on summit lists. There is a tremendous amount of camping and bouldering in this area; however, caution should be taken due to the large use of this area by hunters and ATV and motorcycle users. Many of the campsites have been completely ruined or destroyed by careless recreational…
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The Vasquez Mountains are a sub-range of the Front Range. This range is "L-shaped" and is home to several rarely-hiked summits. Most summits in the Vasquez Mountains are near 12,000 ft in elevation, offering solitude. Two Wilderness Areas lie within the confines of these mountains: the Vasquez Peak Wilderness in the south and the Byers Peak Wilderness in the north. The Vasquez Mountains begin at Berthoud Pass and the Fraser River Valley and extend west to the Williams Fork River, and then north to Bottle Peak. Generally speaking, the Vasquez Mountains are gentle; however, some areas on the eastern side…
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Measuring just 15 miles long, the Kenosha Mountains are a sub-range of the Front Range and are nestled between the Platte River Mountains to the north and the Tarryall Mountains to the south. The Kenosha Mountains are home to several 12,000 and 11,000 ft. summits and lie completely within the Lost Creek Wilderness Area. Most summits in this mountain range are not officially named; however, Gerry and Jennifer Roach, of Colorado mountaineering fame, have provided several summits in the area with alphabetically-themed appellations such as "Peak X," "Peak Y," and "Peak Z." Due to the lack of relatively high summits…
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Spanning approximately 30 miles, the Tarryall Mountains are south of the Kenosha Mountains, north of the Puma Hills, and are a sub-range of the Front Range. The Tarryall Mountains are home to several intriguing summits, including Bison Peak and McCurdy Mountain within the Lost Creek Wilderness Area. This mountain range features some very unique rock types and does not disappoint the average appreciator of geologic formations. Another popular feature within this mountain range is Tarryall Reservoir, a popular fishing and camping destination during the summer months.
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Also known as the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area, the Indian Peaks lie within the Front Range, just south of the Rocky Mountain National Park. Due to its proximity to the Denver and Boulder area, the Indian Peaks are one of the most heavily accessed Wilderness Areas in Colorado. According to wilderness.net, the United States Congress designated the Indian Peaks Wilderness in 1978 spanning a total of 77,711 acres. Additionally, roughly 35% of this area is above treeline and the area is home to about 50 lakes. Summit elevations range from 8,300 to just over 13,500 feet, offering a wide range…
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Rocky Mountain National Park lies within the Front Range and is home of one of the most popular 14'ers - Longs Peak. Several lesser known 13'ers and 12'ers are scattered throughout Rocky Mountain National Park, making it one of the most popular hiking destinations in Colorado. A hiker could spend months in Rocky Mountain National Park and not complete all 359 miles of trails. Two smaller sub-ranges are with in Rocky Mountain National Park, including parts of the Mummy Range and the Never Summer Mountains. Special considerations must be made before planning a trip to this area. A breakdown of…
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A small mountain range just over 15 miles in length from north-to-south, the Never Summer Mountains sit within the Front Range, with the western section sitting within the Never Summer Wilderness Area and the southern portion of the Never Summer Mountains within the boundaries of Rocky Mountain National Park. No summits within this mountain range surpass the magical 13,000 ft. mark; however, the range offers several exceptional climbing opportunities, typically within relative solitude. Like other mountain ranges in this part of Colorado, the Never Summer Mountains were impacted by glaciation and therefore many of these summits have cirques and other…
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The Mummy Range mostly lies within Rocky Mountain National Park, and encompasses over 160 square miles of rugged glaciated summits, six of which are above 13,000 ft. The Mummy range is part of the Front Range, and shares similar characteristics as its neighbors to the southwest, the Never Summer Mountains.
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Disected by the Gore Range, the Williams Fork Mountains are split into two sub-areas - east and west. The eastern part of this mountain range comprises the western edge of the Front Range, just north and west of the Eisenhower Tunnel and the western part of this mountain range is just north of the Flat Tops. The east Williams Fork Mountains are just west of the Vasquez Mountains and consist mostly of very gentle slopes and easy summits. Due to their proximity to the rugged Gore Range and because of the fact that there are very few high summits in…
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The Gore Range is often referenced and revered as one of the most isolated and rugged mountain ranges in Colorado. Broken into two sections, north and south, the Gore Range sits just west of Vail and extends northwest to Steamboat Springs to the west of the Rabbit Ears Range. Several rugged summits above 12,000 ft. and 13,000 ft. call the Gore Range home, yet no summit surpasses the 14,000 ft. mark, making the Gore Range a rarely travelled part of Colorado. Due to the obscure nature of the Gore Range, most summits inside its confines are not officially named; however,…
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The Laramie Mountains are part of the Front Range and rests just north of Rocky Mountain National Park and the Mummy Range. With one exception, this mountain range consists mostly of gentle summits below 11,000 ft. The highest summit is just slightly higher than 11,000 ft. This range extends north into Wyoming and is easily visible from I-25.
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The Medicine Bow Mountains are within the northwestern part of the Front Range and extend north into Wyoming. These mountains begin at the Diamond Peaks just west of Cameron Pass on Colorado State Highway 14 and extend north from there. Much of these mountains lies within the Rawah Wilderness Area, which entails 85 miles of trails over 73,068 acres. Summits in this range vary between 12,951 ft. (Clark Peak) and 10,000 ft.
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The Front Range of Colorado is perhaps the most well-known mountain range in Colorado due to its proximity to three major metropolitan areas: Denver, Colorado Springs, and Ft. Collins. The Front Range is comprised of several sub-ranges, including Rampart Range, Kenosha Mountains, Platte River Mountains, Tarryall Mountains, Puma Hills, Vasquez Mountains, Laramie Mountains, Rocky Mountain National Park, Never Summer Mountains, Medicine Bow Mountains, Mummy Range, Williams Fork Mountains, and the Indian Peaks. Additionally, the Front Range covers roughly 7,000 square miles and spans more than 175 miles North-to-South, making it Colorado's longest mountain range.
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The Flat Tops are an elevated plateau resting in a large area just north of the I-70 corridor east of Grand Junction. This range is a massive block of rock pushed upward and planed level, its surface punctured here and there with rare peaks rising a thousand feet above the high plateau. (Quotation from A Hiking and Camping Guide to the Flat Tops Wilderness Area - Al Marlowe, Author) The area comprises the second largest wilderness area of Colorado, the Flat Tops Wilderness Area. This wilderness are is 235,000 acres large and ranges between 7,600 ft. and 12,994 ft. in…
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The Elkhead Mountains are a relatively unknown and remote small mountain sub-range west of the Park Range near Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Due to the fact that this range is completely devoid of any summit over 11,000 ft., the opportunity for solitude is great. People rarely venture into this area of the state even though this range offers some great hiking experiences. According to Summitpost.org, most of the peaks in the Elkheads see very few ascents, but Hahns Peak, the eastern-most peak in the range, is a popular climb for residents of Steamboat Springs. Additionally, there are only three peaks within…
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The Park Range is home to one of Colorado's most prominent peaks - Mount Zirkel. Although this range does not possess any summits over 12,180 feet, the area is home to many wonderful summits and the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area. This range sits just south of Wyoming, northwest of Steamboat Springs. This range is roughly 40 miles long and rises steeply out of the Yampa River basin. Glaciation has left its distinctive mark of high valleys ending in rugged cirques. Over 150 miles of trails provide access and the wilderness area, which offers a variety of recreational opportunities including several…
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The Sangre de Cristo Range spans over 180 miles from Colorado into New Mexico and is known by many locals for its solid congolmerate rock and its steep relief, rising out of the San Luis Valley. The festive town of Crestone sits at the base on the western side of the range and serves as a gateway to many of the lesser-known summits in the area. Another famous aspect of this mountain range is the Great Sand Dunes National Park, which rests at the western base of this range and can be seen from many of the summits of this…
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The Danforth Hills rest north of Meeker Colorado, and are home to a collection of hills, none of which exceed 9,000 feet in elevation. These hills are home to several Native American relics leftover from the 19th century struggles between the Native Americans and early-American pioneers. The Meeker Historical Society has some writings concerning this area and period of time, which contained one of the most historical battles of that time-period: The Battle of Milk Creek.
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The San Juan Mountains span approximately 6,000 square miles in the southwestern portion of Colorado and contain several sub-ranges, including the Grenadier Range, Needle Mountains, West Needle Mountains, La Garita Mountains and the La Plata Mountains. The San Juans are home to some of the most rugged and breathtaking mountains in the continental United States.
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The Sawatch Range is by far one of the largest mountain ranges in Colorado, spanning over 100 miles from north to south. This range contains some of the highest mountains in the whole continent, including Mount Elbert, Mount Massive, Mount Harvard, Mount Princeton, and Mount Yale. The Sawatch Range is known for some of the best views in all of Colorado, due to the huge number of high elevation peaks there.
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The La Plata Mountains are a small sub-range of the San Juan Mountains in Southwest Colorado. The mountains are roughly 13 miles Northwest of Durango, CO and span about 20 miles north-to-south. The best-known peak in the La Plata Mountains is Hesperus Mountain, which is the Navajo sacred mountain of the North, and is the high point of the range. To the Navajo people, Hesperus is also known as: Dibé Nitsaa (Big Mountain Sheep) - Obsidian Mountain.
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