|Location||Hinsdale / Gunnison counties, Colorado, USA|
|Nearest city||Gunnison, CO|
|Area||62,050 acres (251.1 km2)|
|Established||January 1, 1993|
|Governing body||Bureau of Land Management / U.S. Forest Service|
The Powderhorn Wilderness is a 62,050-acre (251.1 km2) wilderness area in Hinsdale and Gunnison Counties, Colorado, USA, located 5 miles (8.0 km) northeast of Lake City. Most of the northern part of the area, 48,115 acres (194.71 km2), about 77.5%, is located on Bureau of Land Management land and its southern portion, 13,935 acres (56.39 km2), about 22.5%, is located within the Gunnison National Forest. Elevations in the wilderness range from 8,500 feet (2,600 m) at the West Fork Powderhorn Creek to 12,661 feet (3,859 m) at the summit of Calf Creek Plateau.
The Powderhorn is an important watershed for the Gunnison River. The area protects the East, Middle, and West forks of Powderhorn Creek, which merge and then have a confluence with Cebolla Creek. Calf Creek, which is on National Forest land flows south and eventually joins the Lake Fork Gunnison River that also flows into the Gunnison via Lake City. Within the area there are numerous small lakes and beaver ponds. The largest of these are Devil's Lake and Powderhorn Lake.
Much of the area sits above timberline at 12,000 feet (3,700 m) and it is recognized as one of the largest expanses of tundra in the contiguous United States.
The Powderhorn Wilderness is within the San Juan volcanic field and volcanic rocks dominate the region. The central, highest terrain of the wilderness is composed of basaltic lava flows of the Hinsdale Formation, which are dated at 16 to 19 million years old. These lava flows are thought to be among the last volcanic events in the area and are some of the best preserved. The Hinsdale Formation lava flows form an expansive alpine highland where the two highest ridges are Calf Creek Plateau and Cannibal Plateau.
Underlying these basalt flows are sheets of older volcanic rocks that are exposed around the periphery of the wilderness. From youngest to oldest, these rocks include Cochetopa Park Tuff, Nelson Mountain Tuff, Carpenter Ridge Tuff, and Fish Canyon Tuff. The volcanic ash that formed these tuffs came from Oligocene eruptions within the San Juan volcanic field. These eruption sites are the Cochetopa Caldera, San Luis Caldera, Bachelor Caldera, and La Garita Caldera, respectively. On the northern and western reaches of the wilderness there are yet older volcanic rocks exposed. These Oligocene lavas and breccias have been dated at 32 million years old.
The Powderhorn Wilderness was glaciated, and the most prominent glacial cirques are located on the north side of the wilderness. Powderhorn Lakes, popular hiking destinations, are located in one of these cirques.
Half of the Powderhorn Wilderness is above tree line and the alpine tundra here is dominated by grasses and forbs, though there are also extensive thickets of willow. Below, the subalpine forest is dominated by Engelmann spruce and subalpine fir, and interspersed are numerous subalpine meadows of grasses and forbs. There are also stands of aspen. At lower elevations, particularly in the northern extension of the wilderness, montane forests occur and ponderosa pine is often dominate. Sagebrush steppe becomes increasingly common at lower elevations, particularly on drier hillsides.
The wilderness serves as important summer range for mule deer and elk. Other mammals include mountain lions, black bears, bobcats, coyotes, martens, marmots, and pikas.
Travel through the wilderness is limited to those on foot and horseback. There are six trailheads that provide access to the wilderness. To the west is the Devils Creek Trailhead (8,478 feet (2,584 m)). Along the north and northeast boundary are the Powderhorn Lake (11,143 feet (3,396 m)) and Ten Mile Spring (9,327 feet (2,843 m)) trailheads. And to the south are the Deer Lakes (10,444 feet (3,183 m)), Brush Creek (9,926 feet (3,025 m)), and Powderhorn Park (9,047 feet (2,758 m)) trailheads. These trailheads provide access to 45 miles (72 km) of interconnecting trails allowing multiple options for trips in the wilderness.
The most popular destination in the wilderness is Powderhorn Lakes. These two lakes are nestled in a beautiful glacial cirque, and the 4.8-mile (7.7 km) trip one-way is well worth the effort. Start at the Powderhorn Lake Trailhead and take the well-maintained Powderhorn Lakes Trail south to the lakes. The upper lake is at an elevation of (11,860 feet (3,615 m)). Given the popularity of this trail, those seeking remoteness and more solitude may find other trails and destinations more rewarding.
The San Juan Mountains is a high and rugged mountain range in the Rocky Mountains in southwestern Colorado and northwestern New Mexico. The area is highly mineralized and figured in the gold and silver mining industry of early Colorado. Major towns, all old mining camps, include Creede, Lake City, Silverton, Ouray, and Telluride. Large scale mining has ended in the region, although independent prospectors still work claims throughout the range. The last large scale mines were the Sunnyside Mine near Silverton, which operated until late in the 20th century and the Idarado Mine on Red Mountain Pass that closed down in the 1970s. Famous old San Juan mines include the Camp Bird and Smuggler Union mines, both located between Telluride and Ouray.
Mount Jefferson is a stratovolcano in the Cascade Volcanic Arc, part of the Cascade Range in the U.S. state of Oregon. The second highest mountain in Oregon, it is situated within Linn County, Jefferson County, and Marion County and forms part of the Mount Jefferson Wilderness. Due to the ruggedness of its surroundings, the mountain is one of the hardest volcanoes to reach in the Cascades. It is also a popular tourist destination despite its remoteness, with recreational activities including hiking, backpacking, mountaineering, and photography. Vegetation at Mount Jefferson is dominated by Douglas fir, silver fir, mountain hemlock, ponderosa pine, lodgepole pine, and several cedar species. Carnivores, insectivores, bats, rodents, deer, birds, and various other species inhabit the area.
Mount Washington is a deeply eroded volcano in the Cascade Range of Oregon. It lies within Deschutes and Linn counties and is surrounded by the Mount Washington Wilderness area.
Mount McLoughlin is a dormant steep-sided stratovolcano, or composite volcano, in the Cascade Range of southern Oregon and within the Sky Lakes Wilderness. It is one of the volcanic peaks in the Cascade Volcanic Arc, within the High Cascades sector. A prominent landmark for the Rogue River Valley, the mountain is north of Mount Shasta, and Crater Lake lies to the north-northeast. It was named around 1838 after John McLoughlin, a Chief Factor for the Hudson's Bay Company. Mount McLouglin's prominence has made it a landmark to Native American populations for thousands of years.
Indian Heaven is a volcanic field in Skamania County in the state of Washington, in the United States. Midway between Mount St. Helens and Mount Adams, the field dates from the Pleistocene to the early Holocene epoch. It trends north to south and is dominated by six small shield volcanoes; these shields are topped by small spatter and cinder cones, and the field includes a number of subglacial volcanoes and tuyas. The northernmost peak in the field is Sawtooth Mountain and the southernmost is Red Mountain; its highest point is Lemei Rock at an elevation of 5,925 feet (1,806 m).
The Grand Mesa is a large mesa in western Colorado in the United States. It is the largest flat-topped mountain in the world. It has an area of about 500 square miles (1,300 km2) and stretches for about 40 miles (64 km) east of Grand Junction between the Colorado River and the Gunnison River, its tributary to the south. The north side of the mesa is drained largely by Plateau Creek, a smaller tributary of the Colorado. The west side is drained largely by Kannah Creek, which is received to the west by the lower Gunnison River. The mesa rises about 6,000 feet (1,800 m) above the surrounding river valleys, including the Grand Valley to the west, reaching an elevation of about 11,000 feet (3,400 m). Much of the mesa is within Grand Mesa National Forest. Over 300 lakes, including many reservoirs created and used for drinking and irrigation water, are scattered along the top of the formation. The Grand Mesa is flat in some areas, but quite rugged in others.
La Garita Caldera is a large supervolcanic caldera in the San Juan volcanic field in the San Juan Mountains near the town of Creede in southwestern Colorado, United States. It is west of La Garita, Colorado. The eruption that created the La Garita Caldera is among the largest known volcanic eruptions in Earth's history, as well as being one of the most powerful known supervolcanic events.
Broken Top is a glacially eroded complex stratovolcano. It lies in the Cascade Volcanic Arc, part of the extensive Cascade Range in the U.S. state of Oregon. Located southeast of the Three Sisters peaks, the volcano, residing within the Three Sisters Wilderness, is 20 miles (32 km) west of Bend, Oregon in Deschutes County. Eruptive activity stopped roughly 100,000 years ago, and currently, erosion by glaciers has reduced the volcano's cone to where its contents are exposed. There are two named glaciers on the peak, Bend and Crook Glacier.
The Weminuche Wilderness is a wilderness area in southwest Colorado managed by the United States Forest Service as part of the San Juan National Forest on the west side of the Continental Divide and the Rio Grande National Forest on the east side of the divide. The Weminuche Wilderness was designated by Congress in 1975, and expanded by the Colorado Wilderness Acts of 1980 and 1993. It is located 4 miles (6.4 km) southeast of the town of Silverton, 17 miles (27 km) northeast of Durango, and 8 miles (13 km) west of South Fork. At 499,771 acres (2,022.50 km2), it is the largest wilderness area in the state of Colorado. Elevation in the wilderness ranges from 7,700 feet (2,300 m) along the Animas River to 14,093 feet (4,296 m) at the summit of Windom Peak.
Diamond Peak is a volcano in Klamath and Lane counties of central Oregon in the United States. It is a shield volcano, though it might also be considered a modest stratocone. Diamond Peak forms part of the Cascade Volcanic Arc, a segment of the Cascade Range in western North America extending from southern British Columbia through Oregon to Northern California. Reaching an elevation of 8,748 feet (2,666 m), the mountain is located near Willamette Pass in the Diamond Peak Wilderness within the Deschutes and Willamette national forests. Surrounded by coniferous forest and visible in the skyline from foothills near Eugene, Diamond Peak offers a few climbing routes and can be scrambled. Diamond Peak is one of Oregon's Matterhorns.
The Tushar Mountains are the third highest mountain range in Utah after the Uinta Mountains and the La Sal Range. Located in the Fishlake National Forest, Delano Peak, 12,174 ft NAVD 88, is the highest point in both Beaver and Piute counties and has a prominence of 4,689 ft. Delano Peak is named for Columbus Delano (1809–1896), Secretary of the Interior during the Grant administration. The Tushars receive an ample amount of snow annually even though they are situated within the rainshadow of the Sierra Mountain Range located in California and the Snake Range located in Nevada.
The Mokelumne Wilderness is a 105,165-acre federally designated wilderness area located 70 miles (110 km) east of Sacramento, California. It is within the boundaries of three national forests: Stanislaus, Eldorado and Toiyabe. First protected under the Wilderness Act of 1964, the Mokelumne’s borders were expanded under the California Wilderness Act of 1984 with the addition of 55,000 acres. The wilderness takes its name from the Mokelumne River, which was named after a Mi-wok Indian village located on the riverbank in California's Central Valley.
The Cochetopa Hills are a ridge of uplands on the Continental Divide in Saguache County, southern Colorado, United States.
The San Juan volcanic field is part of the San Juan Mountains in southwestern Colorado. It consists mainly of volcanic rocks that form the largest remnant of a major composite volcanic field that covered most of the southern Rocky Mountains in the Middle Tertiary geologic time. There are approximately fifteen calderas known in the San Juan Volcanic Fields; however, it is possible that there are two or even three more in the region.
Cannibal Plateau is a summit in Hinsdale County, Colorado in the United States. The broad 12,533-foot (3,820 m) mountain is located in the San Juan Mountains and within the Powderhorn Wilderness, a protected area managed by the Bureau of Land Management Gunnison Field Office and the Gunnison National Forest.
The Hermosa Creek Wilderness is a 37,236-acre (15,069 ha) U.S. Wilderness Area in La Plata County, Colorado. It s located in the San Juan National Forest 12 miles (19 km) north of Durango. It was established by the Hermosa Creek Protection Act of 2014, which also created the adjacent Hermosa Creek Special Management Area, which shares its eastern border, Hermosa Creek. Elevation in the wilderness ranges from 7,500 feet (2,300 m) along Hermosa Creek to 12,338 feet (3,761 m) at the high point of Indian Trail Ridge.
Cochetopa Dome is a mountain in the San Juan Mountains, in Saguache County, Colorado. The 11,138 ft (3,395 m) mountain is located in the Gunnison National Forest.
Gunsight Pass is a high mountain pass in the Sawatch Range of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. It is located in Gunnison County and in the Fossil Ridge Wilderness, which is managed by the Gunnison National Forest. The pass is at an elevation of 12,185 feet (3,714 m)) on a ridge connecting Square Top Mountain to the west and Broncho Mountain to the east. It divides the watersheds of Brush Creek to the north and Lamphier Creek to the south.
Calf Creek Plateau is a mountain in the northern San Juan Mountains of the Rocky Mountains of North America. The mountain is located in Hinsdale County, and at an elevation of 12,661 feet (3,859 m), it is the high point of the Powderhorn Wilderness.