Colorado Backcountry Information

Colorado Backcountry Information
With its world-renowned scenery--including a famous concentration of "14ers"--and widespread network of parks and wildernesses, Colorado is a mecca for backcountry enthusiasts.


The political boundaries of Colorado encompass portions of three physiographic regions: the Great Plains to the east, the Rocky Mountains in the middle and the Colorado Plateau on the far western and southwestern fringe.

Southern Rockies

Colorado's most extensive backcountry lies in the great mass of the southern Rockies, the highest portion of the cordillera stretching from British Columbia to New Mexico. There are more peaks over 14,000 feet in Colorado than any other U.S. state except for Alaska.

National Parks and Monuments

The National Park Service is well-represented in Colorado. There are more than 10 national parks, monuments and historic sites in the state.


Colorado is richly endowed in federally designated wilderness areas, excellent destinations for the backcountry explorer. The 100,000-acre Uncompahgre Wilderness straddles the high Uncompahgre Plateau in the far west, while the lightly visited, 43,000-acre Buffalo Peaks Wilderness southwest of Denver protects a pair of eroded volcanic areas.


Colorado's high country sees great extremes of weather. The heavy snows of winter provide opportunities for skiing, snowshoeing and other sports, while early autumn often graces hikers with crisp temperatures and sun.

Article Written By Ethan Schowalter-Hay

Ethan Schowalter-Hay is a writer and naturalist living in Oregon. He has written for the "Observer," the Bureau of Land Management and various online publishers. He holds a Bachelor of Science in wildlife ecology and a graduate certificate in geographic information systems from the University of Wisconsin.

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