Weminuche Wilderness

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Weminuche Wilderness
Aspen Weminuche Wilderness
Aspen in the Weminuche Wilderness
Map showing the location of Weminuche Wilderness
Map showing the location of Weminuche Wilderness
LocationColorado, USA
Nearest citySouth Fork, CO
Coordinates37°40′N 107°30′W / 37.667°N 107.500°W / 37.667; -107.500[1]Coordinates: 37°40′N 107°30′W / 37.667°N 107.500°W / 37.667; -107.500[1]
Area499,771 acres (2022.5 km2)
Governing bodyU.S. Forest Service

The Weminuche Wilderness is a wilderness area in southwest Colorado managed by the United States Forest Service as part of the San Juan National Forest on the west side of the Continental Divide and the Rio Grande National Forest on the east side of the divide.[2][3] It is about 5 miles (8.0 km) south east of the town of Silverton and about 15 miles (24 km) northeast of Durango. At 499,771 acres (2,022.50 km2), it is the largest wilderness area in the state of Colorado. The wilderness was named after the Weminuche Indians.[4]


The area is divided into two sections by the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad that follows the Animas River Gorge. In the smaller Western portion, the West Needle Mountains consist of several peaks that terminate in the Animas River Gorge. Within the Western portion of wilderness can be found three fourteeners of the San Juan Mountains; Mount Eolus, Sunlight Peak and Windom Peak, in addition to numerous thirteeners and other peaks of note. These peaks belong to the Needle Mountains proper, and are known for their rugged terrain. Chicago Basin, an alpine valley situated on Needle Creek below the mountains at around 11,200',[5] is a popular camping destination for backpackers looking to access the fourteeners.


  1. ^ "Weminuche Wilderness". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved August 7, 2012.
  2. ^ "Weminuche Wilderness". U.S. Forest Service. Retrieved August 7, 2012.
  3. ^ "Weminuche Wilderness". Wilderness.net. Retrieved August 7, 2012.
  4. ^ Dow, Fred; Dow, Suzanne (1 January 2001). U.S. National Forest Campground Guide, Rocky Mountain Region. Moon Canyon Publishing. p. 286. ISBN 978-0-9767516-4-9.
  5. ^ "Chicago Basin Trip Planning Guide". SJMA. Retrieved 2020-08-25.