Colorado Mountain Ranges

Colorado is the only U.S. state that lies entirely above 3,000′ (1,000 meters) in elevation and has approximately 550 mountain peaks that exceed 13,000′ (4,000 meters) in elevation.

Highest PointMt. 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.

Seasonal Snow Cover

The satellite images below (courtesy of the USGS) show the snow cover over the course of a year (Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter). 


Front Range Mountains

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

Trails on the Front Range

Mt Audubon 13,223'

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 ...
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Shelf Rd was a very scenic canyon drive

Shelf Road (9,494′), Royal Gorge

Shelf Road Gold Belt Tour National Scenic Byway is a dirt road easily passable with 2WD vehicles in good weather ...
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The Royal Gorge bridge crosses 955' above the Arkansas River

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 ...
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View back into the valley

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 ...
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Bear Lake with Hallett Peak in the distance

Hallett Peak (12,713′), Front Range

Hallett Peak, in Rocky Mountain National Park, is very distinctive when viewed from the east side of the park with ...
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Lake Helene

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, ...
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Sandstone formations in Cathedral Valley

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

Garden of the Gods 480 acre park is geologically unique, having one of the most complete and complex exposures of ...
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Mills Lake with Storm Peak (left) and Spearhead (right) rising above the blowing snow

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

Located within Glacier Gorge, Mills and Jewel Lake provide dramatic views of the surrounding peaks. Mills Lake is named in ...
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Beautiful Lone Eagle Peak (11,920') in the distance

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, found along ...
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From the left to right: Pikes Peak, North Almagre Mountain

Almagre Mountain (12,360′), Front Range

Almagre Mountain is the second highest peak, after Pikes Peak, when viewed from Colorado Springs. Located in the Pike National ...
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View of Mt Rosa

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 ...
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Blue Lake and Mt Toll

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

Blue Lake is accessed from the Mitchell Lake trailhead in the Brainard Lake Recreation Area. Brainard Lake itself is a ...
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Cheyenne Mountain from Mt Rosa

Cheyenne Mountain (9,565′), Front Range

Cheyenne Mountain's geological summit lies on the southwestern portion of the mountain. The mountain always intrigued me because the front ...
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Looking into Chaos Canyon

Lake Haiyaha (10,244′), Front Range

Located in lower Chaos Canyon, Lake Haiyaha is unlike other lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park because it is surrounded ...
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Mt Herman

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 ...
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Looking back across the Narrows

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 ...
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Conditions at the summit

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 ...
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View southeast

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

The St Vrain Mountain trail straddles the border between the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area (south) and Rocky Mountain National Park ...
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Flattop Mountain

Flattop Mountain (12,332′), Front Range

The hike to the summit of Flattop Mountain can be accessed from the very popular Bear Lake Trailhead in Rocky ...
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Near Emerald Lake

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

Starting at the Bear Lake Trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park, the trail passes Nymph and Dream Lakes on the ...
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Red rock formations

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 ...
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Estes Cone from the Longs Peak trailhead

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 ...
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Devils Head Fire Lookout

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

Note: As of 2020 the trail is open, but the stairs leading to the tower and the tower are currently ...
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Sunset from Windy Point

Spruce Mountain (7,635′), Front Range

Spruce Mountain is located on the Palmer Divide near Palmer Lake, Colorado. It offers great views of the Palmer Divide ...
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Sky Pond and Taylor Glacier

Sky Pond (10,900′), Front Range

Begin at the Glacier Gorge trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park and follow a well maintained trail to Timberline Falls ...
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2011 landslide area

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 ...
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Approaching Alberta Falls

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 ...
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Mt Morrison summit view

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 ...
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Grays (left) and Torreys (right) Peak's

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

Grays Peak and Torreys Peak are the only two 14er's situated on the Continental Divide and provide great views of ...
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Mt Bierstadt trail to the summit

Mt Bierstadt (14,160′), Front Range

Mt Bierstadt is a few miles east of Guanella Pass, in the northernmost part of the Pike National Forest. This ...
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Sawatch Mountain 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

Trails on the Sawatch Range

Mirror Lake lies on the north side of Tincup Pass

Tincup Pass (12,154′), Sawatch Range

The 4x4 road over Tincup Pass is rugged and slow going because of all the rocks and ledges, but the ...
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View of Cronin Peak (13,870') from the west side of Mt Antero

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 ...
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La Plata Peak southwest ridge with abandoned mining track. View of Huron Peak and the Three Apostles in the background.

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

La Plata Peak is the 5th highest summit in the Rocky Mountains and is known for it's distinctive Ellingwood Ridge ...
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Huron Peak view of the Three Apostles

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 ...
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View La Plata Peak

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

La Plata Peak is the fifth-highest summit of the Rocky Mountains and is considered one of the more challenging hikes ...
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Missouri Mountain

Missouri Mountain (14,067′), Sawatch Range

The most popular approach to the summit of Missouri Mountain is from the Missouri Gulch trailhead. Missouri Mountain is connected ...
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Twin Lakes with Mt Elbert on the far right

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 ...
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Mosquito/Ten Mile Mountain 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

Trails on the Mosquito and Ten Mile Range

Road becomes very rocky and narrow as you near the pass

Mosquito Pass (13,185′), Mosquito Range

Mosquito Pass connects the towns of Alma to the east and Leadville to the west. The pass is the highest ...
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Quandary Peak summit ahead

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

Quandary Peak is the highest peak in the Ten Mile Range. It is a popular destination, just 8 miles outside ...
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Snow-capped Mt Sherman

Mt Sherman (14,036′), Mosquito Range

Mt Sherman, Colorado's 46th highest peak, is a great first 14er. It is possible to park as high as 12,000 ...
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Near Mt Lincoln summit looking at Mt Cameron

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 do four 14ers in one day. The ...
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San Juan Mountain 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

Trails on the San Juan Range

Crossing the Rio Grande River headwaters

Stony Pass (12,492′), San Juan Range

In 1872 Stony Pass Road was created to connect the area’s mining operations in Silverton to the town of Del ...
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View of Hurricane Peak rising above CR10

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 in May ...
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Near the upper trailhead

Mt Sneffels (14,150′), San Juan Range

Mt Sneffels is situated in the Mount Sneffels Wilderness of Uncompahgre National Forest, and the Lavender Couloir route can be ...
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Scenic American Basin

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

The Handies Peak trail to Sloan Lake offers views of American Basin, one of the most scenic basins in the ...
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Sangre de Cristo Mountain 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

Trails on the Sange de Cristo Range

Beautiful views of the Crestone's from the trail

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 ...
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Hayden Pass Road near Villa Grove on the west side

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 ...
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View of West Spanish Peak (13,265')

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 ...
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Crestone Needle

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

South Colony Lakes Basin lies in the heart of southern Colorado's Sangre de Cristo Range. Surrounded by Crestone Needle (14,197'), ...
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Sunrise on the dunes

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 ...
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Zapata Falls - 30 ft drop

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 ...
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Elk Mountain 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

 

The famous Maroon Bells

The famous Maroon Bells find their home here.


Gore Mountain 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

 

Eagles Nest Wilderness - Gore Mountain Range

Eagles Nest Wilderness – Gore Mountain Range


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

 

North Park Range, CO

North Park Range