The Williams Fork Mountains leap up and away into Ptarmigan Peak Wilderness from just below the western entrance to the Eisenhower Tunnel on Interstate 70, virtually unnoticed in winter as skiers rush to many nearby developed ski areas. The south slope of the mountains, dominated by Ptarmigan Peak at 12,458 feet, is where you'll find the designated land. A typical lodgepole-pine forest rises to Engelmann spruce and subalpine fir and then on to alpine tundra at the highest elevations. From the boundary along the top of the mountain ridgeline, the terrain drops into the wet, lush, and lovely drainages of the South and Middle Forks of the Williams Fork Rivers. You will not find many miles of trails in this Wilderness. The Ptarmigan Peak Trail just outside Silverthorne crosses Ptarmigan Pass into the drainages to the northeast, a one-way journey of seven miles. The Ute Pass Trail follows the ridgeline boundary from Ptarmigan Pass north to Ute Peak (12,303 feet) and on to Ute Pass, a total distance of about 10 miles.
Leave No Trace
How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Ptarmigan Peak Wilderness.
Digital and paper maps are critical tools for wilderness visitors. Online maps can help you plan and prepare for your visit ahead of time. You can also carry digital maps with you on your GPS unit or other handheld GPS device. Having a paper map with you in the backcountry, as well as solid orienteering skills, however, ensures that you can still route-find in the event that your electronic device fails.
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited in all wilderness areas.
This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.