On Sept. 3, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Wilderness Act into law. Since then, five wilderness areas have been established in Grand County: Indian Peaks, Never Summer, Byers Peak, Vasquez Peak and portions of Rocky Mountain National Park.
This month’s Wilderness Spotlight is Indian Peaks, which was Grand County’s first wilderness, designated by Congress in 1978, and today it is one of the most popular and heavily used wilderness areas in the country due to its close proximity to Denver. Sculpted by the last glacial period, the area’s rugged peaks are named after tribes of the American West, with seven rising above 13,000 feet. A total of more than 75,000 acres make up this stretch of wilderness that spans the Continental Divide, including 28 miles of maintained trail covering 133 miles and more than 50 lakes. About 35 percent of the area is above treeline, while a little lower in elevation perpetual snowfields and chilled winds have created an environment of stunted trees and alpine plants unusual for this part of the state.
“I am glad I shall never be young without wild country to be young in. Of what avail are forty freedoms without a blank spot on the map?”