Things To Do

Deep in the La Garita Wilderness of southern Colorado is one of the state’s greatest hidden gems, the Wheeler Geologic Area. This former national monument is a natural playground of spires, cliffs, hoodoos and deep canyons, completely hidden from the world by the humps of the La Garita Mountains. Think Bryce Canyon—if that area had no crowds and required a 6-mile hike to reach it (there’s also a 14-mile four-wheel-drive road that is so rough it’s quicker to hike to Wheeler.) The pleasant trail meanders gently through large grassy meadows, reaching the four-wheel-drive road after 4 miles. Follow this road the last mile to the entrance to the geologic area. Take some time to explore this unique piece of Colorado.

Pro Tips

  • Due to its length, most hikers carry an overnight backpack and camp in the geologic area. Great camping can be found by turning left at the first fork and camping near the geologic area overlook. Hikers can also turn right and descend to the creek where there are more campsites and an old but usable shelter.
  • There’s a crossing of Bellows Creek about 3 miles in that requires hikers to get their feet wet, so bring sandals or water shoes. This crossing can be treacherous during high water.
  • It can’t be stressed how bad the road to Wheeler is for anything but the hardiest vehicles. On this reporter’s last trip here, only ATVs had made the drive to the geologic area.
  • Recommended season(s): Summer – mid-fall.

    —R. Scott Rappold

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