The views south of Ridgway are considered one of Colorado’s most captivating scenes. In early fall, a stunning spectacle meets the traveler. A light dusting of snow highlights the jagged ridges and pinnacles that decorate Mt. Sneffels while the brilliant yellow-gold aspens that drape across the northern slopes of Mt. Sneffels present a dazzling foreground. [** For more information about the photo and to purchase prints, visit Widerange.org]
Mt. Sneffels is a prominent 14,158 foot high peak in southwestern Colorado which can be seen near the town of Ridgway, Colorado. The peak was named after Snæfell, a volcano in Iceland, by the Hayden Geologic Survey of 1871.
The Mt. Sneffels wilderness contains Mt. Sneffels and the surrounding mountains to the west. At 16,566 acres it ranks as one of the smaller wilderness areas of Colorado. The Sneffels range is a subrange of the San Juan mountains, and is composed of igneous volcanic rock that form forbidding steep sided cliffs and pinnacles leading up to jagged peaks and ridges. Much, if not all of the wilderness is high altitude, rugged terrain surrounded by subalpine forests.
Classic Colorado Landscapes
As mentioned before, the view of Mt. Sneffels from the Ridgway and the Dallas Divide region is considered one of Colorado’s classic landscapes. Each fall, photographers attempt to capture the brilliant autumn aspen foliage with the San Juan mountains as a backdrop. To visit the area, drive highway 550 south of Montrose to the small town of Ridgway. In Ridgway, take hwy 62 west (towards Telluride). The Sneffel range will appear to the south all along the route.
When to Visit
Prime fall-colors occur at the end of September and the beginning of October. The Sneffels Wilderness trails are usually snow free by mid-July.
Blue Lakes – A strenuous day hike from Yankee Boy Basin up to two high altitude lakes beneath Mt. Sneffels in the Mt. Sneffels wilderness. Begin the hike from the trailhead at the end of Yankee Boy Basin Road, just a few miles outside Ouray, CO.
USGS topographic trail map of the Sneffels Wilderness area with edits to highlight the Blue Lakes Trail and Yankee Boy Basin Road
The National Geographic publishes a trail map in its Trails Illustrated series. Map #141, Telluride, Silverton, Ouray, Lake City, Colorado. The Trails Illustrated maps are excellent topographic maps for hikers, and backpackers showing trails, peaks, locations of creeks, and key landmarks.
Nearby Wilderness Areas
For more wilderness areas: Colorado Wilderness areas page.