Description - The Eagles Nest Wilderness straddles the Gore Range. The western portion of the wilderness area lies in the Holy Cross Ranger District and the eastern portion lies in the Dillon Ranger District. Eagles Nest is dominated by the Gore Range, a chain of sharp peaks, rugged escarpments and glaciated valleys, forming a rock backbone of wilderness.
Copyright: USDA Forest Service
Willow Lakes, Eagles Nest Wilderness
- "IN WILDNESS IS THE PRESERVATION OF THE WORLD." Henry David Thoreau
Designated as wilderness in 1976, Eagles Nest totals 133,496 acres. Elevations range from 7,850 feet on the Piney River to 13,534 feet at the top of Mount Powell. There are 17 peaks over 13,000 feet and 33 peaks over 12,000 feet. At the lower elevations on the east side, and in the Piney River drainage on the west, are open parks, broad valleys and densely forested slopes. There are many constructed trails available for travel through this rugged terrain, which offers moderate to difficult hikes.
Recreation - Backpacking, hiking, and horseback riding are the primary recreation activities in the Eagles Nest Wilderness. Like all wilderness areas no mechanized or motorized vehicles are permitted within the Eagles Nest boundaries.
The trailheads listed below access the western side of the wilderness: Pitkin Creek, Booth, Bighorn, Gore Creek, Red Sandstone Road and Piney River.
The following U.S. Forest Service quadrangle maps cover different portions of Eagles Nest Wilderness: Piney Peak , Mt. Powell, Squaw Creek, Willow Lakes, Vail East, Vail West, Red Cliff, Vail Pass, Dillon, and Frisco. The White River National Forest Map is also a good resource to have, although I would not carry it on a backcountry excursion. Any of these maps can be purchased at district offices or outdoor recreation shops.
"Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of like." John Muir
Climate - Weather patterns change quickly. Warm sunny days can turn into powerful electrical storms. Temperatures below freezing and snowfall can occur any month of the year. Be prepared for snow even in August!
Afternoon thunderstorms often form in the summer. In case of lightning, move down from high ground (below tree line). Avoid ridge tops and open meadows. Think ahead and get to safe areas before the storm hits.
The Eagles Nest Wilderness is located in the Gore Range directly north of Vail Pass. The southern boundary of the wilderness is adjacent to the Interstate 70 corridor, which connects the towns of Vail, Dillon and Silverthorne.