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Weminuche Wilderness (Columbine District)

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Weminuche Wilderness (Columbine District)
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General Information

Description - 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 encompasses the western portion of the wilderness area. The Durango-Silverton Scenic train cuts a swath from north to south through a portion of the Wilderness in this ranger district. Sunlight Peak, Mount Eolus and Windom Peak are three fourteeners to the east of the tracks, in the Needle Mountains, which form the eastern border of this district. The Animas River is the major drainage through this area.

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. Several lakes and streams in the region provide excellent fishing opportunities. Three fourteeners: Mt. Eolus (14,083 feet), North Eolus (14,039 feet) and Windom Peak (14,082 feet) lie in this ranger district of the wilderness and draw many peak baggers.

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 85 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 ranger district forms the western boundary of the Weminuche Wilderness. The Durango-Silverton Railway cuts a swath of land from north to south through this portion of the wilderness. The railway follows the path of the Animas River.

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More Information

Contact Information:
Columbine Ranger District, 367 South Pearl Street, P.O. Box 439 , Bayfield, CO, 81122, Phone: 970-884-2512, Fax: 970-884-2428, TTY: 970-884-1433

Additional Information:
Columbine Ranger District - Much of this district can be reached via US 550. Excellent fishing, mountain biking, kayaking, rock climbing and backpacking await, as does the unique Durango-Silverton Railroad.
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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