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Indian Peaks Wilderness

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Area Management

The Indian Peaks Wilderness is part of the 110 million acre National Wilderness Preservation System. This System of lands provides clean air, water, and habitat critical for rare and endangered plants and animals. In wilderness, you can enjoy challenging recreational activities like hiking, backpacking, climbing, kayaking, canoeing, rafting, horse packing, bird watching, stargazing, and extraordinary opportunities for solitude. You play an important role in helping to "secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness" as called for by the Congress of the United States through the Wilderness Act of 1964. Please follow the requirements outlined below and use Leave No Trace techniques when visiting the Indian Peaks Wilderness to ensure protection of this unique area.

Forest Service Information

General Wilderness Prohibitions

Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited on all federal lands designated as wilderness. This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters, unless provided for in specific legislation.

In a few areas some exceptions allowing the use of motorized equipment or mechanical transport are described in the special regulations in effect for a specific area. Contact the Forest Service office or visit the websites listed for more specific information.

These general prohibitions have been implemented for all national forest wildernesses in order to implement the provisions of the Wilderness Act of 1964. The Wilderness Act requires management of human-caused impacts and protection of the area's wilderness character to insure that it is "unimpaired for the future use and enjoyment as wilderness." Use of the equipment listed as prohibited in wilderness is inconsistent with the provision in the Wilderness Act which mandates opportunities for solitude or primitive recreation and that wilderness is a place that is in contrast with areas where people and their works are dominant.

Wilderness-Specific Regulations

Wilderness managers often need to take action to limit the impacts caused by visitor activities in order to protect the natural conditions of wilderness as required by the Wilderness Act of 1964. Managers typically implement 'indirect' types of actions such as information and education measures before selecting more restrictive measures. When regulations are necessary, they are implemented with the specific intent of balancing the need to preserve the character of the wilderness while providing for the use and enjoyment of wilderness.

The following wilderness regulations are in effect for this area. Not all regulations are in effect for every wilderness. Contact the Forest Service office or visit the websites listed for more specific information about the regulations listed.


-- Group size is limited to no more than a combination of 12 people and/or pack or saddle stock. Permits are required for all organized groups such as scouts, hiking clubs, churches, and schools entering the Wilderness. Commercial outfitters/guides must also have a Special Use Permit.

-- Campfires are prohibited on the east side of the Continental Divide. Campfires are also prohibited in the following areas west of the Continental Divide: Crater Lake, Caribou Lake, Columbine Lake, Pawnee Lake, Gourd Lake, and Upper Cascade Creek (above Cascade Falls). Where campfires are allowed, they must be at least 100 feet from any lake, stream, or trail.

-- Pets must be leashed at all times.


-- A camping permit is required from June 1 to September 15.

-- Campsites must be at least 100 feet away from any lake, stream, or trail.

-- The following backcountry zones allow camping only in designated campsites: Diamond Lake, Jasper Lake, Crater Lake, and Caribou Lake.

-- Camping is prohibited in the Four Lakes Backcountry Zone from May 1 to November 30.

-- Camping is prohibited in the portion of the wilderness within Rocky Mountain National Park.


-- Pack or saddle stock are prohibited in the Four Lakes Backcountry Zone, in the Cascade Backcountry Zone (above Cascade Falls), and on the Diamond Lake Trail #975.

-- Hobbling, tethering, or picketing pack or saddle stock is prohibited within 100 feet any lake, stream, or trail.

-- Only pelletized or steam-rolled feed grains, or certified weed-free hay, straw, or mulch are allowed in the Wilderness.

Learn more about why regulations may be necessary in wilderness.

Wilderness Permit System

A wilderness permit system has been implemented for this wilderness. This involves a use limiting permit system with quotas and reservations. Wilderness permit systems are implemented to collect information on use levels and patterns and as an education and information tool. Use limiting systems are implemented after monitoring has determined that current use levels are resulting in unacceptable impacts to the resource and/or to the wilderness recreation experience. These systems help distribute visitor use throughout the season and help minimize crowded conditions at popular areas. People interested in visiting the Indian Peaks Wilderness should contact the Forest Service office or visit the websites listed for more information about this permit system, which may vary by location or time of the year.


The following user fee system(s) have been implemented for this wilderness: OVERNIGHT CAMPING. Fees are most often used to offset the operating costs of a permit system or to help fund management activities such as trail maintenance. Contact the Forest Service office or visit the websites listed for more specific information on this fee system.

National Park Service Information

Unless otherwise specified, no motorized equipment or mechanical transport, with the exception of wheelchairs, is allowed. This is generally true for all federal lands managed as designated wilderness.

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