West Elk Wilderness


Located in the Gunnison National Forest.

The West Elk Wilderness encompasses more than 176,000 acres on the Gunnison National Forest. Elevations within the Wilderness range from 7,000 to over 13,000 feet. Over 200 miles of constructed trails are available for both foot and horse travel through sometimes rugged terrain. Weather for the area can vary greatly but generally, you can expect cool mountain climate with scattered rain showers throughout the summer months. Normally, the West Elk area is snow free from mid-July to September, but conditions depend on the elevation and amount of snowfall each winter. Lower elevations from around 7,000 to 8,500 feet may become snow free by early June, but some creek and river water levels tend to be high. The annual precipitation varies from 25" to 40". Some points of interest in the West Elk are the Castles, West Elk Peak, Sheep Lake, North/Middle/South Baldy Mountain, West and East Beckwith Mountain. Wildlife includes elk, mule deer, black bear, bobcat, mountain lion, coyote, snowshoe hares, Golden Eagles, and other small species. Streams are inhabited by native cutthroat, rainbow, brook and brown trout.

A Recreation Opportunity Guide is available for review at Forest Service offices in Delta, Paonia and Gunnison. It gives detailed information on several thousand opportunities for hiking, horseback riding, hunting, fishing, etc. . Please observe Wilderness guidelines when you visit, and record trips at trailhead registers.

For more information contact: The Gunnison National Forest

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 27 May 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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