- Indian Peaks is one of the most heavily used wilderness areas in the U.S. To encounter less people, hike and camp on weekdays and use less popular travel zones. The region contains vast areas of alpine tundra, numerous cirque basins, remnant alpine glaciers and nearly 50 lakes, in the shadow of the Continental Divide.
Recreation - Popular activities in the Indian Peaks Wilderness include backpacking, backcountry camping, day hiking, horse packing, fishing and hunting. The wilderness is broken into 18 travel zones with varying regulations regarding the activities allowed. Permits are required for anyone camping overnight from June 1 through September 15.
You may obtain a permit by mail or in person. There is a $5.00 reservation fee for all dates. Please allow two weeks to receive reservations by mail. Permits may be obtained in advance or on the day of your trip. Day-of-trip permits are not available for heavily used travel zones. Without advanced reservations, your preferred zones and dates may not be available. Contact one of the Ranger District offices, the Indian Peaks Ace Hardware in Nederland or stop in the Monarch and Junco Lake Wilderness Stations (day of trip permits only), for permit applications.
Climate - Elevations in the wilderness area range from 8,400 feet to 13,500 feet. During the summer months frequent thunderstorms with hail and high winds are common. Electrical storm activity is a special consideration. Retreat from exposed tundra and talus slopes to tree line protection when lightning activity is expected. Daytime high temperatures average 60 degrees Fahrenheit, with lows occasionally below freezing.
Fall brings stable weather with clear, cool days. Expect freezing temperatures at night, even snow is possible. Early autumn is a great time for travel in this area.
Storm systems from the northwest start in early November, depositing large amounts of snow on leeward sides of mountain ridges. Tundra areas are windswept of any snow; wind exposure is extreme. Winter weather continues on these high slopes until early June. Low temperatures are often below zero with wind chill factors of minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit or colder. Snowfall averages over 100 inches.
The 73,391 acre Indian Peaks Wilderness is located in north-central Colorado, in the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests. It straddles the Continental Divide, on the south end of Rocky Mountain National Park. It is divided between two Ranger Districts, the Sulphur Ranger District and the Boulder Ranger District.