Colorado is home to more 14,000-foot peaks than anywhere else in the Lower 48. If the thin air doesn’t take your breath away, the view might. It’s an unparalleled feeling to push yourself to that summit and look out over the landscape, a small speck on top of the world. But hiking Colorado fourteeners, even an “easy” one, will test the physical and mental endurance of any first-timer and bring you into an ecosystem fraught with natural dangers. Falling rocks, dangerous drop-offs, sudden snowstorms, and dangerous lightning all contribute to the extreme nature of this pursuit. Here’s what you need to know to get started.
The best beginner fourteeners are ones with roads that will take you high on the mountain, making for a shorter hike and an easier bailout if you find yourself overexerted or caught in unexpected inclement weather.
Some of the things you’ll encounter high in the Rockies:
The website 14ers.com is the best resource, with detailed directions and maps and tons of expert advice.