Buffalo Peaks Wilderness, encompassing 41,232 acres, was congressionally designated in 1993. It get its name from the thirteen thousand foot Buffalo Peaks located 15 miles southwest of Fairplay, Colorado. Elevations range from 9,200 to 13,326 feet from sea level. This area differs from other surrounding Wilderness areas by virtue of its high potential for solitude.
Conifers and aspens intermingle with rolling meadows of grasses and wildflowers. The fall color display is spectacular. The dark double summits of Buffalo Peaks are two highly eroded volcanic mountains that were active some 28 million years ago. These aspects offer wonderful experiences for all levels of naturalists.
Please help keep Wilderness wild by following Leave No Trace practices.
At a Glance
|Operational Hours:||Open year-round|
|Permit Info:||All groups of 15 or more are required to obtain a special use permit through the South Park District Ranger Office prior to their trip.|
|Restrictions:||Wilderness regulations apply|
|Closest Towns:||Fairplay, Colorado|
|Water:||Treat all non-potable water before consuming.|
|Operated By:||Forest Service|
|Information Center:||Leadville, Salida, and South Park Ranger Districts|
Please stay on trails. Cutting switchbacks and avoiding wet and muddy sections can cause severe erosion and multiple trail systems. For individuals travelling cross country, remember that alpine tundra is very susceptible to damage. Walk on durable routes of rock or talus when possible. In areas where this is not possible, disperse your use so no two footsteps land on the same spot. In keeping with the character of wilderness, where risk and self-reliance are part of the experience, map and route finding skills are essential.
Camping & Campfires
Take some time when you reach your destination to find the most appropriate site for you and your group. Try not to pick the first site you see, even if you're tired. Look around, choose a site that is protected, not visible from the trail, and is at least 100 feet from any water source. To minimize impacts, please use an existing site. If you choose to have a campfire, consider the following:
- Large hot fires or concentrations of charcoal and ash can sterilize soils, leaving them unable to sustain plant life
- Many visitors consider fire-rings an eyesore
- Keep fires small and limit them to evenings or early mornings
- Avoid having fires above treeline. Dead wood removed from Krummholz (dwarf trees near timberline) affects their survival.
Secure packstock 100 to 200 feet away from lakes, streams, or trails. Use a picket line and move stock often to prevent resource damage. Please remember, dogs must be on a leash at all times.
Water & Waste
All water can carry giardia (a protozoa that affects human intestinal systems and can cause serious illness). Boiling water for at least 5 minutes, using iodine tablets, or filtering can treat water.
Soap, even biodegradable, pollutes the water. Dispose of wash water at least 100 feet away from any water source. Bury human waste in a hole 6" deep and 200 feet away from any water source, trail, or campsite. Pack out toilet paper, feminine products, and left over food. Please Practice Leave No Trace Principles.
Trailhead access from Highway 24 (west) near Buena Vista and Granite Colorado:
- End of Hayden Gulch Road (Forest Service Road 396) - 4-wheel drive access only.
- End of Low Pass Road (Forest Service Road 149) - 4-wheel drive access only.
- Four Mile Trailhead (Chaffee County Road 375) - 4-wheel drive necessary for last 1 mile of road.
Trailhead access from Highway 285 (east) near Fairplay, Colorado:
- Weston Pass Road (Forest Service Road 22) - Rich Creek Trailhead
- Forest Service Road 431 - Lynch Creek and Buffalo Peaks Trailheads
- Forest Service Road 435 - North Salt Creek Trailhead
Photo Credit: David Herrera, Wikimedia Commons
Forest Service Topography Maps: These maps overlay Forest Service assets, such as roads, trails, and campgrounds, on USGS's topographic maps. They are available for download by quadrangle.
Buy maps online
National Forest Store: Offers Pike and San Isabel National Forest maps for purchase online or by phone, fax, and mail.
Go to Wilderness.net for additional maps and information about Wilderness.
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