How to backpack the Uncompaghre Wilderness

How to Backpack Uncompahgre: 5 Tips for the First-Time Backpacker

Making the 5+ hour drive just to make it to the trailhead in the Uncompahgre Wildnerness may seem like a daunting task, but I guarantee that it is more than worth it. The drive alone will take you through areas that most Colorado tourists, and residents, never see. The irony? I would argue that west of the Contenital Divide is quintensial Colorado. Iconic landmarks Black Canyon in Gunnison National park, and driving over Monarch Pass. and let’s not forget that if you’re that far west Telluride and Grand Junction aren’t much farther. Let’s talk about the best ways for you to get back into this incredible wildnerness.

How to get to the Uncompahgre Wildnerness

Trailheads for the Uncompahgre can be found all around the small town of Ouray. While a lot of these trails are hiking only, some of the best treks start from Breckenridge, as the Uncompahgre can be accessed right from the Summit. But for our purposes we will be focusing on the area that hugs the western slopes of Telluride and El Jardin. Below you will find a detailed map outlining the trails in the backcountry. You can pick your favorite from our list, or add them if you think they deserve to be included. Trailheads in the Westside (The Area Near Telluride): Cottonwood Trail (A small detour on Lone Tree Trail) Cottonwood Pass (The Big Y and pretty amazing views) Mammoth Trail (Follow the old trail to a campsite near the Cottonwood Pass Trail.

Traveling Tips

1. If you want to start your tour before lunch, choose a hike along the Berdoo Loop. The sign-posting along this trail is relatively good, and the parking lot is close by. However, the trail is on a ridge that is also a creek, so be sure to carry lots of water (otherwise you’ll have to “punch-through” a waterfall) and be ready to take a dip in the Colorado River if you’re in the mood. The trail climbs on for a while and I actually took this trail with a group of Frenchmen from Brittany, and the men were simply un-matchable with their tenacity. They followed the trail like it was a hiking death-trip. In general, they would continue to look back, thinking they were far away from our group, but I knew that they could still see us.

What to Pack

1. Shoes and Heels Now, this might seem obvious, but I am going to stress this point. Yes, you will be hiking a good three to four hours, so make sure that you have a pair of shoes with traction, so that you don’t get hurt in some rocky areas. I know hiking in Chacos and flip flops sounds like a lot of fun, but I assure you that it won’t be. Now if you can’t wear heels, they should be pretty easy to come by. Check out some of my best-selling boot finds below. Brand: Merrell Description: The Westin Kennedy Sandals are ultra flexible, and also super easy to put on and take off. They are sandal compatible and great for wet and muddy conditions. I absolutely adore them. Stretch: 5″ Stratus Stretch Weight: 1.35 oz (38-40 cl) Color: Smoke Style: Women’s 2.

What to Eat

One of the most common concerns in my area is finding nutrition food that isn’t only tasty, but contains a healthy dose of essential vitamins and minerals. When traveling with kids in particular this can be a challenge. “Whole,” natural foods are the best foods to eat. Seeds Seeds are a great source of calories, protein and dietary fiber, making them a great source of calories. Seeds also contain high levels of phytonutrients that aid in improving your immune system, along with providing antioxidants. These help to reduce the impact of outdoor temperatures, and increase your overall resistance to stress and pain. Kale There is no better source of protein in the wilderness than kale. Kale has more protein per ounce than almost any other vegetable.

What to Do

If you’re a winter camper, the challenge is to embrace all the seasons of the year. Good news, we know some good hiking. If you want to try for a big day, pack a big pack and go for a hike. If you are looking to spend a night and set up camp for the night, grab a permit. In recent years there has been an increasing number of permit parking areas. If you are a skilled backpacking backpacker, a series of short hikes and side trips will be more than enough to see this area to its potential. On my next trip I’m hoping to do the full mountain range in a single trip, but that’s up to me. While I personally love doing the big loop around the mountain range, there are many places you can stop for a day hike, or even an overnight.


The Uncompahgre Wildnerness is a place that needs to be preserved. A place with wild trout streams, majestic redrock canyons, and gentle meadows. While you can’t say it is easy to get into the Uncompahgre Wildnerness, it is a special place. If you’re looking for an opportunity to get in there, I think these tips are something to consider. At the end of the day, you get to appreciate the wild beauty of the Uncompahgre. With a little planning and some grit you can find the adventure that awaits. #Wildtopia #WildlifeMonarchTrout #ColoradoTrout A small guide to the Wildnerness and hiking the Rogue Canyon Trail Location: The Uncompahgre Wildnerness is located north of Ouray, about 7 miles west of the town of Telluride.

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