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Never Summer Wilderness Area

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

Located in Arapaho and Routt National Forests

Neighboring towns: Estes Park, Granby, Grand Lake

Easily among the most poetically named of Colorado's wilderness areas, the Never Summer Wilderness graces the northwest corner of Rocky Mountain National Park. For once, those selecting names for a range chose ones that stir the imagination: Static Peak (can't you feel the hairs on your arm rising as the black thunderclouds build?); the mysterious Nokhu Crags; and, to the everlasting delight of cloud watchers, Mounts Cirrus, Cumulus, Nimbus, and Stratus.

The alpine core of the Never Summer Range gained wilderness protection in the 1980 Colorado Wilderness Act, but much of the lush, low-lying forests surrounding the range, particularly those to the south, fell through the legislative cracks. Thus the stage was set for one of Colorado's most acrimonious battles over wilderness preservation.

The forests of Bowen Gulch in the area's southern portion are some 600 years old and as large as four feet in diameter. At 10,500 feet in elevation, this type of old-growth forest is exceptionally uncommon. The large-diameter trees caught the attention of the Forest Service personnel, who laid out timber sales and subsequently sold the timber to Louisiana-Pacific Corporation in 1988. When the company began logging the irreplaceable old-growth forests of Bowen Gulch, tree-huggers literally rallied to the defense, and Colorado saw its first instances of people chaining themselves to trees and logging equipment to halt the destruction!

In the northern section, a series of ponds and bogs provide rare habitats for species seldom seen so far from north-country muskegs: wood frogs, bog bean, pygmy shrew, perhaps even a wolverine or two. Moose have been reintroduced and are faring well. Several lakes and streams shelter trout.

Straddling the Continental Divide, Never Summer has about 20 miles of trails that lead up gulches and cross the divide on two high passes.

Size: 20,747 acres plus 9,620 acres of proposed wilderness in adjacent Rocky Mtn. National Park

Elevation: 8,900 to 12,940 feet

Miles of trails: 20

Year designated: 1980,1993

Hunting areas: 18, 171

For more information contact:

Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests & Pawnee National Grassland, 2150
Centre Ave., Building E, Fort Collins, CO 80526  970-295-6700 
Boulder Ranger District, 2140 Yarmouth St., Boulder, CO 80301 (303)
Canyon Lakes Ranger District,  2150 Centre Ave., Building E, Fort Collins,
CO 80526  970-295-6700 
Clear Creek Ranger District,  101 Chicago Creek Rd., Idaho Springs, CO
80542 (303) 567-3000
Sulphur Ranger District, 9 Ten Mile Dr., Granby, CO 80446 (970) 887-4100


Wilderness sunset

NOTE: coloradowilderness.com gratefully appreciates the 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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