- La Garita Wilderness encompasses 129,600 acres of mountainous terrain. Approximately 35 miles of the Continental Divide lie within this wilderness and forms the boundary between the Gunnison and Rio Grande National Forests. Low numbers of people and 175 miles of trail make this area perfect for anyone seeking solitude.
Wildflowers with driftwood
San Luis Peak attracts many mountaineers to the La Garita Wilderness. This mountain is one of 54 fourteeners in Colorado, it rises to a height of 14,014 feet. The drive to the trailhead is rather long so it is important to get a very early start if planning to climb the peak the same day. If you are lucky, you may spot some bighorn sheep on the distant mountainside as you gain the saddle before the final ascent.
Recreation - All wilderness areas are closed to mechanized and motorized vehicles. Hikers, backpackers and equestrians may enjoy the solitude and natural beauty of this area.
Climate - Mountainous terrain influences the climate visitors find in La Garita Wilderness. Elevations range from 7,500 feet to over 14,000 feet at the top of several mountain peaks. In general, the climate at low elevations is cool and arid while the high country is cold and humid. Average precipitation varies from under eight inches at the 8,000 foot level to over 50 inches in some alpine areas. Snowfall varies significantly in the Forest. North Cochetopa Pass commonly receives two feet of snow in a year when Wolf Creek receives six to eight feet.
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.
The La Garita Wilderness is located eight miles north of Creede in the San Juan Mountains. Highway 149 leads around the southern and western portions of the wilderness area from South Fork north to Lake City. In order to reach Forest Developed Roads 502, 503, 600 and 729, visitors to the wilderness must use Highway 149. State Highway 114 is the largest thoroughfare to the north of La Garita Wilderness. From this road visitors will find Forest Road 804, which leads to Forest Roads 787, 794 and wilderness access.