The West Elk's most attractive offering may be a large and untamed area. You'll find many mountain passes leading to secluded and seldom-seen valleys filled with beaver ponds and lined with trembling aspen that turn a fantastic and indescribable gold in September. Ridges were crumbled and carved by wind and water into fantastic turrets, pinnacles, and crenellated bulwarks. The topography is reflected in many of the area's geographic names: Castle Pass, Castle View, Castle Creek, and the Castles.
About two hundred miles of trails offer opportunities for extended loop hikes through the West Elk. The Mill Castle Trail travels up to Storm Pass at 12,460 feet offering extravagant vistas and the best look at the castle like formations of this area.
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 West Elk 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.
Colorado Wilderness Act - Public Law 96-560 (12/22/1980) To designate certain National Forest System lands in the States of Colorado, South Dakota, Missouri, South Carolina, and Louisiana for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System