Along the southern boundary of the relatively small Vasquez Peak Wilderness and over Vasquez Peak itself, you'll find that seven miles of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail offer two distinct and worthy opportunities. First, you'll encounter less crowded conditions than most Colorado Wildernesses, and second, you'll be blessed with extravagant views over a dramatic area, two-thirds of which lie above timberline. Below timberline sits a region of krummholz (or twisted wood), the result of icy temperatures and fierce winds that keep the spruce and fir dwarfed and confined into low-lying mats. Healthy spruce, fir, and pine cloak the lower mountainsides. Vasquez Creek flows heavily off Vasquez Peak to form the main drainage of the area. A deep indentation in the Wilderness boundary from the north maintains Vasquez Creek as non-Wilderness to allow for a collection system that sends much of the water toward Denver. With much of the 17-mile-long trail system above timberline, sudden summer thunderstorms can make exposure to lightning in the Vasquez Mountains a dangerous risk. Vasquez Pass on the Divide can be reached after three miles of hiking on the Vasquez Peak Trail off Vasquez Creek. You should plan on hiking early and dropping into the trees before afternoon storms break. In winter, avalanches are common. Vasquez lies near Byers Peak, Ptarmigan Peak, and Eagles Nest Wildernesses to form a vast, largely roadless region.
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 Vasquez 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.