Lizard Head Wilderness and Mt Sneffels Wilderness, Colorado

July 13 to 16 2004

"Wherever you go, there you are"

Buckaroo Banzai in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension

Hike Information

This trip was a little different from the usual hikes we do. Ted wanted to pick up his final peaks on this series of climbs, so we basically did some car camping. I met Ted in Laramie. Meanwhile, Brian flew into Montrose, and got a motel room at the San Juan Inn. This was a great motel, plus it had the TCM channel. We watched classics when we weren't out cruising the town.

The next day, we headed up to where we were going to car camp to hit the Wilson Group peaks. The road was bumpy, but passable. We soon found out when we hiked a bit up the trail that the road/trail up to Rock of Ages pass had been closed by the owners. Another case of a property owner restricting access to peaks. It is their right to do so, but sometimes I wonder what the reason is. In this case, perhaps the owner wants to limit liability in case he starts up his mines, or wants to switch one land parcel for another. It all seems to be a big game. Ted's friend Keith showed up, and the next day Brian, Keith, and Ted headed up to assault the peaks. I followed later, making it up to the owners cabin. Then I noticed the weather getting worse, and headed back to the car. The nice thing was, when it was raining, the mosquitoes weren't biting.

Ted, Brian, and Keith returned soon after the real downpours started. The rain, lightening and thunder had terminated the assault on Wilson Peak, but they had been able to climb El Diente and Mt Wilson. With all the rain, we decided to pack it back to Montrose and see if the San Juan Inn had a room for 4. They did, so we went from car camping to motel camping.

We spent some time exploring Montrose. We came across a nice bookstore, and a mediocre sandwich shop. And there is a candy factory there, a Russell Stover I think.

We next drove to the Yankee Boy Basin so an assault on Mt Sneffels could be made. The drive up Canyon Creek road outside Ouray is an exhilarating experience with steep drop-offs and overhanging cliffs. This, in fact, is an understatement, as in one part you drive through a part of the road cut out of a cliff, It is barely big enough for one car, and vehicles need to have a low clearance to miss the cliff above the car's roof. How some of those passenger vehicles made it up, I will never know. We saw a little sedan come past us, and the woman driver rolled down her window and asked if we thought she could make it much further up. We thought she could, but the road got really bumpy and rocky later on we warned. She probably did better than the guy who had the VW bus that was slide backwards on the slippery rocks trying to get up the cliff road cut. How he backed up, turned around, and parked is beyond me. We had a moment of silence as we passed a cross festooned with flowers indicated where some poor soul missed the turn in the road and plunged 500 ft straight down to the river. Yowzers!!!

Yankee Boy Basin was one of the prettiest sites I have ever seen. There were tons of photographers out taking wildflower photos. Apparently, it is one of the most photographed parts of Colorado. Mt Sneffels was scaled, and we drove back to Base camp Motel and had dinner. The next day, we dropped Brian off at Montrose International Airport and headed to Laramie. I departed for SF soon after we arrived in Laramie.

Ted also came back and climbed Wilson Peak via the Navajo Lake Trail to complete his assault on all the Colorado 14ers! Well done Ted!!!!

This map shows three hikes in the Lizard Head Wilderness and Mt Sneffels Wilderness - in black, the Mt Sneffels climb, El Diente and Mt Wilson, and Wilson Peak via Navaho Lake Trail.

Lizard Head Wilderness

Sneffels Wilderness

The Lizard Head Wilderness (41,309 acres) is a wilderness area in southwest Colorado within the Uncompahgre and San Juan National Forests created by Congress in 1980. The area includes three prominent fourteeners: El Diente Peak (14159 ft), Wilson Peak (14017 ft), and Mount Wilson (14246 ft). The area includes the headwaters of the west fork of the Dolores River. This infrequently visited wilderness is named after a rock formation that resembles a lizard's head. Lizard Head itself is 13,113 feet (3,997 m) and is a volcanic spire of crumbling rock.

Mt. Sneffels Wilderness (16,587 acres) is found in the Uncompahgre National Forest and was created by Congress in 1980. The area is named for Mt. Sneffels, which at 14150 feet is a prominent fourteener in the San Juan Mountains. The word "Sneffels" is likely an americanization of the Old Norse word for Snæfell "snow mountain," which is also the namesake of the Snæfellsnes peninsula and Snæfellsjökull volcano in Iceland.

1 / 38
2 / 38
3 / 38
4 / 38
5 / 38
6 / 38
7 / 38
8 / 38
9 / 38
10 / 38
11 / 38
12 / 38
13 / 38
14 / 38
15 / 38
16 / 38
17 / 38
18 / 38
19 / 38
20 / 38
21 / 38
22 / 38
23 / 38
24 / 38
25 / 38
26 / 38
27 / 38
28 / 38
29 / 38
30 / 38
31 / 38
32 / 38
33 / 38
34 / 38
35 / 38
36 / 38
37 / 38
38 / 38

Base camp Roo (note rain shadow effect from car) Bob and Brian at camp in an edited picture. Our table is the one is the box Brian used to ship his gear on the plane to Montrose. Brian and Keith moving into Navajo Basin; Rock of Ages Pass in background Brian (red helmet) and Keith (white helmet) on way up El Diente NNE to Wilson Peak, Mt Sneffels in in distance Ted on El Diente, looking SW down Dolores Creek Brian and Keith on El Diente-Mt Wilson traverse Brian on Traverse Cool flowers on traverse Ted and Brian on Mt Wilson Keith and Brian in Navajo Basin at lunch Stony Mt from Yankee Boy Basin Old mine in Yankee Boy Basin Wildflowers in Yankee Boy Basin View down Yankee Boy Basin More wildflowers in Yankee Boy Basin Brian and Keith at Wright Lake Looking ESE to Potosi Peak and Stony Mt from Blue Lakes Pass WNW to Blue Lakes from Blue Lakes Pass South to Gilpin Peak on SW ridge of Mt Sneffels Cool rock formation, untouched by human hands Until now... the horror SW towards Wilson Group (3 peaks on right) and Lizard Head Looking N from Mt Sneffels Brian on the summit of Mt Sneffels, Wilson lake, Blue Lakes Pass, and Gilpin Peak in view Ted on Mt Sneffels Daisies and Buttercups in Yankee Boy Basin Keith, Brian, and Bob hiking down road in Yankee Boy Basin Blue Lakes Pass and Mt Sneffels SW ridge from Yankee Boy Basin Pretty flowers Pretty Flowers Columbine Mt Sniffles? Indian Paintbrush and <i>Carex sp.</i> More paintbrush <i>et al.</i> <i>Pendicularis groenlandica</i> (aka elephanthead lousewort) Cool flower #1 Cool flower #2