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Greenhorn Mountains Wilderness Area

Government information and links are at the bottom of this page.

Located in San Isabel National Forest

Neighboring towns: Walsenburg, Pueblo, Gardner, Farisita, Colorado City, Rye, Green Towers, San Isable

Nowhere else among Colorado's wilderness areas does one find the juxtaposition of mountains and plains as in Greenhorn Mountain, where the Rockies meet headlong with the Great North American Prairie. Part of the greater Laramide orogeny that began uplifting these mountains some 65 million years ago, the granite crystalline core of Greenhorn Mountain and the Wet Mountain Range of which it is a part, warped upward through surrounding sedimentary rock.

Greenhorn Mountain offers some of the most remote and lightly used wilderness in the state. It lacks jagged alpine peaks and contains nary a single lake, both of which typically draw visitors. The area is small, steep and relatively dry, which means that opportunities for overnight and extended loop trips are few. The entire southern half is trailless; for a truly pristine wilderness experience with guaranteed solitude there is no place better than here. Of course, you will have to bushwhack through dense woodlands and unforgiving topography.

Enough water does collect on the Wet Mountains, however, to supply several small streams in the area's northern half. In fact, the threatened greenback cutthroat trout thrives in South Apache Creek, and other creeks, such as North Apache, have similarly suitable habitat. The landscape grows considerably dryer as elevations drop. Many slopes remain relatively clear of snow, and much of the mountain serves as important winter range for bighorn sheep, elk and mule deer.

Finally designated as wilderness in 1993 after a 20 year wait, Greenhorn Mountain received overwhelming consensus for protection. This was largely because it had no resources worth developing; its timber lay on dry, steep slopes; no mineral resources existed; and water diversions made more sense on the lowlands below the area. Whatever the reason, Greenhorn Mountain's inclusion in the wilderness system was a welcome addition.

Size: 22,040 acres

Elevation: 7,600 to 12,300+ feet

Miles of trails: 11

Year designated: 1993

Hunting areas: 84

For more information contact:

Pike & San Isabel National Forests, 1920 Valley Drive, Pueblo, CO 81008
Leadville Ranger District, 2015 N. Poplar, Leadville, CO 80461  (719)486-0749
Pikes Peak Ranger District, 601 So. Weber, Colorado Spgs, CO 80903  (719)636-1602
Salida Ranger District, 325 W. Rainbow Blvd., Salida, CO 81201  (719)539-3591
San Carlos Ranger District, 3170 E. Main St., Canon City, CO 81212  (719)269-8500
South Park Ranger District, Box 219, 320 Hwy 285, Fairplay, CO 80440  (719)836-2031  Fax: (719)836-2033
South Platte Ranger District, 19316 Goddard Ranch Court, Morrison, CO 80903  (303)275-5610

Wilderness sunset

NOTE: Eloquent descriptions of our wilderness areas provided by Mark Pearson, author of "The Complete Guide to Colorado's Wilderness Areas", Westcliffe Publishers, Englewood, CO. The book also contains many beautiful pictures by renowned photographer and Colorado resident John Fielder.


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