The 9 Best 14er Guide Books and Maps for Colorado

Information is everything when planning a 14er hike or climb. Without good beta (first-hand info and data) on the route you wish to take, the risk of an accident rises significantly. There are more than 100 different map and guides out there to help you reach the summit, so it’s normal to be overwhelmed by the options available. I’ve selected the 9 best 14er guide books and maps to help you make the right decision. In this blog, I’ll walk through each of the nine options of 14er guide books and maps.

Picking the 9 Best 14er Guide Books and Maps

I selected these 9 options through a mix of personal experience, online reviews, and discussions with other 14er hikers and climbers. If you have feedback to share about them, please contact me here – I’d love to know what you think! Read on for the best options:

This book, Colorado’s Fourteeners, 3rd Ed.: From Hikes to Climbs, is the gold standard when considering the best 14er guide books and maps. Written by Gerry Roach, it details the standard and non-standard routes up all of the state’s 14,000 foot mountains, including easier hiking and scrambling routes, as well more technical rock and snow climbs. If you just want to buy the best overall option of these 14er guide books and maps without overthinking it, this book is probably the best choice for you. 

Click here to learn more or buy this book.

Second on the list is this Guide book, ‘Climbing Colorado’s Fourteeners,’ from Falcon Guide Publishers. It’s slightly more affordable than the first book on this list, and is more compact and weighs less, making it far easier to bring with you on your adventures so you can look up a route picture or map during your hike or climb itself. It makes up for this with slightly less detailed information, but it’s largely worth the smaller size and price tag. I keep this with me anytime I’m climbing something class 3 difficulty or worse.

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If you don’t want or need information on every fourteener route out there, this is the best Guide Book for you. Prepared by the Colorado mountain Club, they include some of the best 14er routes across the state, selected by their experienced mountaineer members. It’s perfect to keep on your shelf to peer into when you’re looking for your next 14er route, without getting distracted by less popular, more difficult niche routes.

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This is the first Map Pack on the list, and is the best of the two in my opinion. Part of the vast National Geographic Trail Maps brand, this Bundle comes with two map booklets. One covers the northern Colorado ranges, while the other focus on the southern ranges. It’s water and tear-proof, thin and lightweight, making it the perfect map to accompany you on your fourteener hiking and climbing trips.

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This 14er book is a bit different than the others on this list. Rather than featuring maps and guides, it details some of the accidents and disasters that have occurred on Colorado’s high peaks over the past 25 years. By reading about others’ misadventures, you can identify what went wrong to stay safe yourself. In addition, the gripping tales are perfect mountain reading and inspiration during the cold 14er off-season, and a great gift for the special peak bagger in your life. 

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This second Map Pack is much larger and more detailed than the National Geographic Bundle, including 16 individual maps which together cover all of Colorado’s named or ranked 14ers. On the plus, you have a much higher level of detail, helpful for more difficult peaks. On the negative side, there are a lot of individual packets to keep track of, and it costs a good deal more. However if you want the most detailed map possible, this is the best choice.

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Dawson’s Guide is the most detailed book on the market, split into two full volumes. The first focuses on the northern 14ers, and includes technical climbs, snow climbing routes, easy hiking and scrambling, and ski descents. The book is becoming a bit dated as new trails are constructed on many of the easier and more popular peaks, however the guide is still accurate for the more advanced routes. 

If you’re looking for a guide that includes it all, and you someday want to try class 5 or snow climbing routes, along with 14er ski descents, this is still the best guide book for you. If you only want to climb standard, easier routes, pick one of the other guide books on the list

Click here to learn more or buy Volume 1 of this book

Click here to learn more or buy Volume 2 of this book

The last of the 14er guide books and maps is more of a coffee table book, but it’s a fascinating read worth including on the list. It walks you through the history of all of Colorado’s 14ers, tracing how they each received the iconic names we now all know by memory. With a mix of history, story-telling, geology and more, the book is perfect for sparking new trip ideas and helping you appreciate the stories these mountains have to tell us as we aim to reach their summits. It makes a great birthday gift too for the peak baggers in your life.

Click here to learn more or buy this book

As you can see, it’s not easy selecting the best 14er guide books and maps, with so many options to choose from. But if you understand what you’re looking for, it gets easier to make a decision. These nine choices include a mix of options with varying levels of detail. If you’re still struggling to choose, I recommend the first book: Colorado Fourteeners: From Hikes to Climbs. It’s number 1 on the list of best 14er guide books and maps for a reason and will serve pretty much everyone well. Safe travels on the trail and good luck on your future 14er adventures… I hope these 14er guide books and maps help.

Alex Derr, Creator of The Next Summit

Alex is an Eagle Scout and mountaineer living in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. You can subscribe to his Next Summit Newsletter here.

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