Never Summer Wilderness

The Never Summer Wilderness gets blasted with huge amounts of snow almost year-round. That snow collects on peaks which offer relatively gentle terrain and bear names that hint at their heights: Cirrus, Cumulus, Stratus and Nimbus. There is so much snow that the Never Summer Wilderness has several good-sized permanent snowfields. In the "summer" time, many ponds and bogs make their appearance and shelter various species that are usually found only in far northern muskegs: bog bean, pygmy shrew, wood frogs and even wolverines. As moose love swamps and bogs, their reintroduction here has gone very well.

The 21,090-acre Never Summer Wilderness is located on Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest, along the western boundary of Rocky Mountain National Park. The National Park boundary runs along the high ridge separating the east and west drainages. Never Summer Wilderness is on the western slopes below that ridge.

There are 17 peaks in the wilderness that rise above 12,000', with Howard Mountain being the highest at 12,810'. The spruce and fir that survive here above 10,000' tend to grow old and fat, with some trees estimated at 600 years old and more than 4' in diameter.

Never Summer Wilderness straddles the Continental Divide, and most of the 20-or-so miles of trails lead up the drainages to cross the divide at either of 2 high passes.

The Never Summer Mountains from Rocky Mountain National Park
The Never Summer Mountains
Map of the Never Summer Wilderness area
Map of the Never Summer Wilderness area

Photos courtesy of TheArmchairExplorer, CCA-by-SA 3.0 License
Map courtesy of National Geographic Topo!