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Weminuche Wilderness (Divide District)


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Weminuche Wilderness (Divide District)
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Description - The Weminuche Wilderness is Colorado's largest roadless area. It encompasses nearly a half million acres in the San Juan Mountains in the southwestern part of the state.The Weminuche Wilderness lies on both the San Juan and Rio Grande National Forests.

The area encompasses over 490,000 acres of roadless forests. Elevations in the area range from 8,000 to 14,083 feet. The headwaters for the San Juan and Rio Grande Rivers are included within the wilderness, as well as approximately 80 miles of the Continental Divide. The wilderness is buffered by the Carson Peak Roadless Area to the north, the Sin Miguel Roadless Area to the northwest and the Piedra Area to the south. Access to the wilderness can be gained from Highway 550, south of Silverton, Highway 149, south of Lake City, and Highway 160, west of Wolf Creek Pass.

This ranger district of the Rio Grande National Forest includes the north central area of the Weminuche Wilderness. Rio Grande Reservoir forms the northern border of the area and access from two trailheads. Several alpine lakes exist within the district with trails leading to most of them. The Continental Divide forms the southern border of this ranger district and the Rio Grande National Forest.

Attractions - The Weminuche Wilderness lies on both the San Juan and Rio Grande National Forests. The area encompasses over 490,000 acres of roadless forests. Elevations in the area range from 8,000 to 14,083 feet. The headwaters for the San Juan and Rio Grande Rivers are included within the wilderness, as well as approximately 80 miles of the Continental Divide. The wilderness is buffered by the Carson Peak Roadless Area to the north, the Sin Miguel Roadless Area to the northwest and the Piedra Area to the south. Access to the wilderness can be gained from Highway 550, south of Silverton, Highway 149, south of Lake City, and Highway 160, west of Wolf Creek Pass.

This ranger district of the Rio Grande National Forest includes the north central area of the Weminuche Wilderness. Rio Grande Reservoir forms the northern border of the area and access from two trailheads. Several alpine lakes exist within the district with trails leading to most of them. The Continental Divide forms the southern border of this ranger district and the Rio Grande National Forest.

Recreation - Recreation opportunities in this, as well as all other wilderness areas is limited to non-motorized and non-mechanized travel. Horseback riding, hiking and backpacking opportunities abound on many miles of trails within the region. Three trails leave from Rio Grande Reservoir and four trails leave from the Big Meadows area. These trails weave themselves into the Wilderness, join with others, and spread throughout the area. A number of the trails are near fishable alpine lakes and streams.

Climate - Mountainous terrain influences the climate visitors find in the Weminuche Wilderness. In general, the climate in the lower elevations is arid, with cool nights and hot days while the high country is cold with heavy precipitation.

Summer is short and frost may occur anytime in high elevations. Annual temperature extremes range from 90 degrees in summer to 30 degrees below zero in winter. Rapid weather changes, with temperature changes of 40 degrees in periods as short as four to six hours, occur frequently.

Location - This district lies in the north central portion of the wilderness. Visitors can gain access by traveling east from Silverton along four-wheel drive roads, or traveling west from Highway 149 toward Rio Grande Reservoir.


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More Information

Contact Information:
Divide Ranger Station, 13308 West US Highway 160, P.O. Box 40 , Del Norte, CO, 81132, Phone: 719-657-3321, TTY: 719-657-6038

Additional Information:
Divide Ranger District - The Divide Ranger District offers some of the most spectacular scenery in Colorado. The area is filled with rich mining history and there are several interesting natural features for visitors to enjoy as well.
Weminuche Wilderness - The Weminuche Wilderness is Colorado's largest roadless area. It encompasses nearly a half million acres in the San Juan Mountains in the southwestern part of the state.

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