View into the Indian Peaks Wilderness from the summit

Colorado Mountain Ranges

Colorado is home to the Southern Rockies and is the only U.S. state that lies entirely above 3,000′ (1,000 meters) in elevation. The ranges of the Southern Rockies are higher than those of the Middle or Northern Rockies, with many peaks exceeding elevations of 14,000 feet. 

Colorado has more than 50 peaks over this elevation, the highest being Mt Elbert in the Sawatch Range, which at 14,433 feet (4,399 m), is the highest point in the 3,000 mile long Rockies. These ranges were heavily eroded by several episodes of glaciation—the most recent ended about 7,500 years ago.

Highest Point – Mt. Elbert at 14,440′ (4,401 m) in elevation, is in the Sawatch Range. Mt Elbert is also the highest point in the Rocky Mountains of North America.

Lowest Point – 3,317′ (1,011 m) on the eastern boundary of Yuma County, where the Arikaree River flows into the state of Kansas, on the eastern plains.

Typical Seasonal Snow Cover

Colorado summer satellite view courtesy of the USGS

Summer

Colorado fall satellite view courtesy of the USGS

Fall

Colorado winter satellite view courtesy of the USGS

Winter

Colorado spring satellite view courtesy of the USGS

Spring

Front Range

The Front Range is the longest mountain range in Colorado, stretching approximately 180 miles north-south between Cheyenne, Wyoming and Pueblo, Colorado. From east to west, the Front Range is roughly 97 miles across. When traveling west across the Great Plains, the Front Range will be the first mountain range you encounter.

Highest Point: Grays Peak (14,278′), also the highest peak on the Continental Divide.

Composition: Gneiss, Schist, and Granite

Front Range Trails

Pancake Rocks (11,060′), Front Range

Pancake Rocks Trail shares the trailhead used to reach Horsethief Falls for the first .7 miles. The trail climbs trough heavy forest before leveling out near the two trail junctions. At the second junction you can go straight for a .5 mile trip to Horsethief Falls, or...

Mt Audubon (13,223′), Front Range

Mt Audubon is the highest peak in the Indian Peaks Wilderness that has an established trail nearly to the summit. It is located in the Brainard Lake Recreation Area, about an hour outside of Boulder. The great 360 degree view from the summit looks out over the...

Shelf Road (9,494′), Fourmile Canyon

Shelf Road Gold Belt Tour National Scenic Byway is a dirt road passable with a 2WD vehicle in good weather. It follows the old stagecoach route between Cripple Creek and  Cañon City built in 1892. It twists along Fourmile Creek, with long bands of limestone towering...

Fremont Peak (7,273′), Royal Gorge

Fremont Peak is the high point along a narrow ridge of hills rising near the eastern edge of the Royal Gorge's north rim. The desert peak is part of a very small sub-range of mountains called the Gorge Hills. These peaks are relatively low and are covered in desert...

The Crags (10,856′), Front Range

The Crags Trail #664 follows Four Mile Creek through deep forests and lush meadows, ending at a rocky dome with unobstructed views in all directions. At the summit of the windswept dome there are views of the Rampart Range, Pikes Peak Mastif, Catamount Reservoirs, and...

Hallett Peak (12,713′), Front Range

Hallett Peak, viewed from east Rocky Mountain National Park, is distinctive with it's slanted square structure towering over the landscape. As you near the summit however, the square melts away and you are left looking at a more traditional mountain silhouette. Rising...

Lake Helene (10,630′), Front Range

There is no signage and you must follow a social trail to get to the lake, but despite it’s obscurity, Lake Helene is a spectacular destination.

Garden of the Gods (6,400′) Front Range

Garden of the Gods is a geologically unique 480 acre park, having one of the most complete and complex exposures of earth's history anywhere in the country. It is popular for hiking, technical rock climbing, biking, and horseback riding. There are more than 15 miles...

Mills (9,965′) and Jewel (9,990′) Lake, Front Range

Located within Glacier Gorge in Rocky Mountain National Park, Mills and Jewel Lake provide dramatic views of the surrounding peaks. The Longs peak area is prominently visible from the valley. The summer route initially takes you to Alberta Falls, another popular...

Crater Lake (10,400′) and Mirror Lake (10,325′), Front Range

Mirror Lake and Crater lake are found deep in the heart of the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Cascade Falls is a popular destination found along the trail. It is about 4.5 miles in and comprises of multiple waterfalls. The destination, Crater Lake, sits in a large bowl...

Almagre Mountain (12,360′), Front Range

Almagre Mountain (Mt Baldy) is the only other peak, besides Pikes Peak, above treeline when viewed from Colorado Springs. Located in the Pike National Forest just south of Pikes Peak, this hike is rated easy, but getting there can be a challenge. In order to drive to...

Mt Rosa (11,500′), Front Range

Mt Rosa is located in the Pike National Forest just south of Pikes Peak and is the only cone shaped summit in the area. This provides rare unobstructed 360 degree views from it's small but lofty summit, one mile above Colorado Springs. From it's summit you can see...

Mitchell and Blue Lake (11,360′), Front Range

Mitchell and Blue Lake are located in the Brainard Lake Recreation Area, west of Boulder, Colorado. Brainard Lake itself is a small lake at the junction of two major valleys in the east central Indian Peaks Wilderness. The northern of the two valleys holds Mitchell...

Cheyenne Mountain (9,565′), Front Range

Cheyenne Mountain's is a triple peak mountain with the geological summit on the southwestern portion of the mountain. In 2017 there were no trails to the summit, so it was necessary to navigate most of the way without a trail through the Pike National Forest. In late...

Lake Haiyaha (10,244′), Front Range

Lake Haiyaha his a secluded, boulder-riddled lake in lower Chaos Canyon. Hallett Peak (12,713') and Otis Peak (12,486') tower over Lake Haiyaha on the Continental Divide, making for spectacular scenery.  Bouldering is a popular activity around the rocky...

Mt Herman (9,104′), Front Range

Mt Herman is the highest point on the Palmer Divide, just west of Monument, Colorado. It lies along the Rampart Range of the Front Range, between Denver and Colorado Springs. The area is popular for hiking and mountain biking, paragliding, and 4x4 trails heading west....

Longs Peak (14,255′), Front Range

Iconic Longs Peak (14,259') is the highest mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park, and the northern most 14,000' peak in the Rocky Mountains. The peak is guarded by granite cliffs and does require Class 3 climbing, although the first 6.5 miles before the Keyhole are...

Mt Evans (14,264′), Front Range

Mt Evans can be accessed via the highest paved road in North America, reaching an elevation of 14,130'. The Mount Evans Scenic Byway, maintained by the Forest Service, offers easy access to Colorado’s inspiring high mountain environment. A drive up, and short walk to...

St Vrain Mountain Trail (12,162′), Front Range

The St Vrain Mountain trail is located just outside the border of the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area to the south, and Rocky Mountain National Park to the north. The trail climbs steeply heading west, just east of the Continental Divide, with views across the Middle St...

Flattop Mountain (12,332′), Front Range

Flattop Mountain is located just east of the Continental Divide in Rocky Mountain National Park. The trail was built in 1925, and rehabilitated in 1940 with Civilian Conservation Corps labor. Today it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The scenic...

Nymph (9,705′), Dream (9,905′), and Emerald Lake (10,110′), Front Range

Nymph, Dream, and Emerald Lake are located inside Rocky Mountain National Park, west of Estes Park. From the popular Bear Lake Trailhead, the trail passes Nymph and Dream Lake on the way to Emerald Lake. There are prominent views along the way of Longs Peak, Glacier...

Carpenter Peak (7,166′), Front Range

Carpenter Peak is located in Ro​xborough State Park,​ which is a Colorado Natural Area and a National Natural Landmark. The parks 4,000 acres is filled with dramatic red-rock formations, distinct plant communities, and a host of wildlife ranging from black bears to...

Estes Cone (11,007′), Front Range

Estes Cone is located about 3 miles from the Longs Peak trailhead on the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park. The peak serves as a prominent landmark in the Tahosa Valley to the east. The peak is named for one of the first settlers in Estes Valley, Joel Estes....

Devils Head Fire Lookout (9,748′), Front Range

Devils Head Lookout was the last of the seven original Front Range lookout towers in continuous use since the 1800's. It was closed in 2018 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Bill Ellis and his wife operated the lookout over the last 25 years,...

Spruce Mountain (7,635′), Front Range

Spruce Mountain is located on the Palmer Divide, on the eastern fringe of the Front Range. The top of the mesa offers great views of the Palmer Divide, with interesting sandstone formations along the trail. Hiking to the upper loop is a quick climb through shady...

Sky Pond (10,900′), Front Range

Sky Pond, located in Rocky Mountain National Park, is fed by Taylor Glacier and forms the headwaters of Icy Brook. The lake occupies a cirque formed during advances and retreats of Taylor Glacier. A little further down, Icy Brook drains into the Lake of Glass, after...

Twin Sisters (11,428′), Front Range

The Twin Sisters ridge runs nearly two miles along the east central boundary of Rocky Mountain National Park. From the summit there are panoramic views of the eastern plains and Rocky Mountain National Park, including Longs Peak and Mt Meeker. The heavy rains in 2013...

Alberta Falls (9,400′), Front Range

Alberta Falls, located in Glacier Gorge, is one of the more popular hiking destinations in Rocky Mountain National Park. The scenic 30-foot waterfall thunders down a small gorge along Glacier Creek, with the short trail following Glacier Creek to the falls. The falls...

Mt Morrison (7,881′), Front Range

Mt Morrison stands above Red Rocks park, home of the famous Red Rocks Amphitheater. The mountain can easily be identified by the large outcropping of rock that forms the summit called "The Dome". Red Rocks Park is considered the “jewel” of the Denver Mountain Parks...

Grays(14,270) and Torreys(14,267) Peak, Front Range

Grays and Torreys Peak are the two highest points on the Continental Divide, with Grays Peak being the highest point. Since the peaks are in close proximity to each other, it is popular to hike them both in one day. The trailhead was the third most popular leading to...

Mt Bierstadt (14,160′), Front Range

Mt Bierstadt, just east of Guanella Pass, is located in the Mount Evans Wilderness of the Pike National Forest. The peak was named for Albert Bierstadt, a famous western landscape artist. Mt Bierstadt is connected to a neighboring 14,000' peak, Mt Evans, by a class 3...

Sawatch Range

Extending southeastward for 100 miles (160 km) from the Eagle River to the city of Saguache, the Sawatch Range contains 15 peaks topping 14,000 feet (4,267 m), also known as 14er’s. The range forms a portion of the Continental Divide, and it’s mountains are high, massive, and relatively gentle in contour.

Highest Point: Mt Elbert (14,433′), the highest peak in the Rocky Mountains.

Composition: Granite, sandstone, quartzite, shale, gneiss, gabbro

Sawatch Range Trails

Tincup Pass (12,154′), Sawatch Range

Tincup Pass gets its name from prospector Jim Taylor, who in 1860 brought his gold strike back to camp in his tin cup. The pass was used to move supplies between St. Elmo and the town of Tin Cup starting in 1881, when a wagon road was built. The views and hiking...

Mt Antero (14,269′) and Mt White (13,667′), Sawatch Range

Mt Antero is one of only a handful of 14,000' peaks that has a road that travels to within a short distance of the summit.  The road up the mountain is difficult, rough and rocky, requiring four-wheel drive, eventually topping out at 13,800'. From the end of the road...

La Plata Peak (14,336′), Sawatch Range

La Plata Peak is known for it's distinctive Ellingwood Ridge, and is one of the highest 14,000' peaks in Colorado. Traverseing the Southwest Ridge route, with Huron Peak and the Three Apostles providing a backdrop, makes for stunning scenery.  "La Plata" is Spanish...

Huron Peak (14,003′), Sawatch Range

Huron Peak is known as one of the most beautiful hikes in the Sawatch Mountain Range of Colorado. It is the most remote peak in the range, located within the San Isabel Nation Forest, and offers views of wilderness in every direction from it's small summit. It's not...

La Plata Peak (14,336′), Sawatch Range

La Plata Peak, in the middle of the Sawatch Range, is known for it's distinctive Ellingwood Ridge, popular among climbers. The Northwest Ridge trail starts from Highway 82 and follows the northern ridge that divides the La Plata basin from La Plata Gulch. There are...

Missouri Mountain (14,067′), Sawatch Range

Missouri Mountain lies deep in Sawatch Range of the Rocky Mountains and is part of the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness. With eight "14ers" (peaks exceeding 14,000' in elevation), the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness has the highest average elevation of any Wilderness Area...

Mt Elbert (14,433′), Sawatch Range

Mt Elbert is the highest peak in the 3,000 mile long Rocky Mountains, a mountain chain which stretches from Canada to Mexico. The peak is situated near the small town and lakes of the same name, Twin Lakes. Despite it's size. the peak is a Class 1 hike, making it a...

San Juan Range

The San Juan Mountains, in the southern Rockies, extends southeastward for 150 mi (240 km) from Ouray in southwestern Colorado, along the course of the Rio Grande, to the Chama River in northern New Mexico. It is the largest mountain range by area in Colorado. Volcanic rocks in the San Juan Mountains constitute the largest erosional remnant of a once nearly continuous volcanic field that extended over much of the southern Rocky Mountains and adjacent areas in Oligocene and later time.

My personal opinion is that this is the most beautiful part of the state. If I could get away, I would be there today.

Highest Point: Uncompahgre Peak (14,309′)
Composition: Sandstone, shale, limestone, ash-flow tuff, quartz latitic lava, andesitic lava

San Juan Range Trails

Stony Pass (12,592′), San Juan Range

Stony Pass Rd crosses the Continental Divide and follows small streams that make up the headwaters of the Rio Grande River. The road was created in 1872 to connect the area’s mining operations in Silverton to the town of Del Norte. The Continental Divide Trail crosses...

Hurricane Pass (12,730′) and California Pass (12,960′), San Juan Range

The National Water and Climate Center reported that the SWE (snow water equivalent) for the San Juan Mountains, including Hurricane Pass and California Pass, in May of 2019 was 728% above normal. It was such a heavy snow year that most of the back country at higher...

Mt Sneffels (14,150′), San Juan Range

Mt Sneffels is the second highest summit in the San Juan mountains and known as the "Queen of the San Juans". Mt Sneffels is situated in the Mt Sneffels Wilderness of the Uncompahgre National Forest. There are only 15 miles of constructed trails in the 16,587 acre...

American Basin to Sloan Lake (12,920′), San Juan Range

The Handies Peak trail to Sloan Lake meanders through American Basin, one of the most scenic basins in the San Juan Mountains. Sloan Lake is a high alpine lake above treeline near the base of American Peak in the basin. The trail continues past the lake and up to...

Mosquito & Ten Mile Range

The Mosquito/Ten Mile range is a single range, but the part of it south of the Continental Divide is called the Mosquito Range, and the part north of the Divide is called the Ten Mile Range.

The range consists of faulted anticlines formed as part of the Sawatch Uplift during the Laramide orogeny, approximately 65 million years ago. The mountains were originally contiguous with the higher Sawatch Range to the west, but were separated during the formation of the rift valley at the headwaters of the Arkansas River, approximately 35 million years ago.

Highest Point: Mt. Lincoln (14,286 ft)
Composition: granite, schist, quartzite

Mosquito/Ten Mile Range Trails

Mosquito Pass (13,185′), Mosquito Range

Mosquito Pass was built to connect the towns of Alma to the east, with Leadville to the west. It is the highest crossable vehicle mountain pass in the U.S. outside of Alaska. While there are higher vehicle passes, they are all out and back. The trail crosses the...

Quandary Peak (14,265′), Ten Mile Range

Quandary Peak is the only 14,000' peak in the Ten Mile Range. The summit provides great views of other nearby peaks such as Northstar Mountain, Mt. Lincoln, Mt. Cameron, Mt. Democrat, and Mt Bross to the south. To the north you see Pacific and Crystal Peak, as well as...

Mt Sherman (14,036′), Mosquito Range

In the middle of the Mosquito Range lies Mt Sherman, rising above the western edge of South Park, in central Colorado. The peak is named for the Union General William Tecumseh Sherman, who served under General Ulysses S. Grant during the Civil War. Keep in mind that...

Mt Democrat (14,148′) , Mt Cameron (14,238′), Mt Lincoln (14,148′), and Mt Bross (14,172), Mosquito Range

DeCaliBron" (Mt Democrat, Mt Cameron, Mt Lincoln, Mt Bross) provides an opportunity to summit four 14,000' peaks in one day. The linkup involves a fairly steep hike up Mt. Democrat, followed by a prolonged walk along several ridges. The technical difficulty on this...

Sangre de Cristo Range

The Sangre de Cristo Mountains are fault-block mountains similar to the Teton Range in Wyoming and the Wasatch Range in Utah. There are major fault lines running along both the east and west sides of the range and, in places, cutting through the range. Like all fault block mountain ranges, the Sangre de Cristo’s lack foothills, which means the highest peaks rise abruptly from the valleys to the east and west, over 7,000 feet in only a few miles in some places. The mountains were pushed up around 5 million years ago as one large mass of rock. The Sangre de Cristo range is still being uplifted today as faults in the area remain active.

Highest Point: Blanca Peak (14,351′)
Composition: gneiss, sandstone, limestone, dolomite

Sangre de Cristo Range Trails

Humboldt Peak (14,064′), Sangre de Cristo Range

Humboldt Peak is part of the Crestones in the rugged Sangre de Cristo mountain range. The Crestones are a cluster of 14,000′ peaks comprising Crestone Peak, Crestone Needle, Kit Carson Peak, Challenger Point, Humboldt Peak, and Columbia Point. Humboldt Peak is the...

Hayden Pass (10,709′), Sangre de Cristo Range

Hayden Pass road crosses the Sangre de Cristo Mountains between Villa Grove in the west, and Coaldale to the east. The road is most challenging and scenic when started from Villa Grove, on the southwest side. With grades up to 20%, great views of the San Luis valley...

West Spanish Peak (13,625′), Sangre de Cristo Range

West Spanish Peak (13,625') and East Spanish Peak (12,684') have world class geological features that made the two peaks a National Natural Landmark in 1976 and designated as a Wilderness Area in 2000. The peaks rise 6,000 ft from the edge of the eastern plains, and...

South Colony Lakes (12,000′), Sangre de Cristo Range

The South Colony Basin lies in the heart of southern Colorado's Sangre de Cristo Range, home of the South Colony Lakes. Surrounded by Crestone Needle (14,197'), Humboldt Peak (14,064'), and Broken Hand Peak (13,573'), the basin is one of the most beautiful alpine...

Great Sand Dunes National Park (8,700′), Sangre de Cristo Range

The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve contains the tallest sand dunes in North America, rising about 750 feet (230 m) from the floor of the San Luis Valley at the western base of the Sangre de Cristo Range. The dunes  cover about 19,000 acres (7,700 ha)....

Zapata Falls (9,250′), Sangre de Cristo Range

The Zapata Falls Recreational Area is approximately three miles south of the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve entrance. The falls are located inside a cave and have a 30 foot drop that freezes in the winter months. Even in winter, water can still be heard...

Elk Range

The mountains sit on the western side of the Continental Divide, largely in southern Pitkin and northern Gunnison counties, in the area southwest of Aspen, south of the Roaring Fork River valley, and east of the Crystal River. Much of the range is located within the White River and Gunnison National Forest, as well as the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness and Raggeds Wilderness. The Elk Mountains rise nearly 9,000 ft. above the Roaring Fork Valley to the north.

Highest Point: Castle Peak (14,309′)
Composition: Black shale, limestone, sandstone

Gore Range

The range runs approximately 60 miles (100 km) northwest-to-southeast forming the southern extension of the Park Range, extending southward from Rabbit Ears Pass (U.S. Highway 40) to the Eagle River near Vail. The Colorado River passes through the range at Gore Canyon. The ridges of the range are prominently visible on clear days from the summit of Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, approximately 50 miles (80 km) to the east. The range is traversed at its southern and southwestern lower flanks by Interstate 70 from Silverthorne to Vail. Much of the range is located within the Arapaho and White River National Forests, and large portions are protected within the Eagles Nest Wilderness.

Highest Point: Mt Powell (13,566′)
Composition: sedimentary, volcanic

Park Range

The range forms a relatively isolated part of the Continental Divide, extending north-to-south for approximately 40 miles (64 km) along the boundary between Jackson (east) and Routt counties. It separates North Park in the upper basin of the North Platte River on the east from the Elk River basin in the watershed of the Yampa River the west.

It rises steeply out of the Yampa River basin, forming a climatic barrier that receives heavy snowfall in winter. The northern end of the range lies in Wyoming and is known as the Sierra Madre Range.

Steamboat Springs, a popular ski resort community, sits on the southwestern flank of the range, at the base of Mount Werner. Much of the range is located within the Routt National Forest. The range is prominently visible from both sides and forms a picturesque skyline from much of North Park. It is traversed at its southern end by Rabbit Ears Pass which lies along US 40. It is also traversed by Buffalo Pass via a gravel road between Steamboat Springs and Walden.

The Park Range is the snowiest range in Colorado, receiving over 500 inches of snowfall a year.

Highest Point: Mt Zirkel 12,182′
Composition: sedimentary and volcanic rock – some of the oldest geology in the state – up to 1.8 billion years old