14ers Near Glenwood Springs: 9 Great Peaks

Glenwood Springs is a major waypoint on I-70 as you drive west through Colorado. It sits at a junction with several major roadways that makes it easy to access many different mountains. As a result there are a lot of 14ers near Glenwood Springs to hike and climb! Many of the closest 14ers are difficult Elk Range mountains. I recommend the Sawatch Range peaks on this list unless you are more experienced. Here are nine of the best 14ers near Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

A Word of Warning About the 14ers Near Glenwood Springs

Just to re-iterate: Many of the closest 14ers to Glenwood Springs are difficult class 3 and 4 climbs on loose, rotten rock. They claim lives every year, usually those unprepared for the conditions. If you are new to the 14ers, I highly recommend climbing either La Plata Peak or Mount of the Holy Cross, both class 2 peaks, on this list.

1. Capitol Peak – 1 Hour Away

Capitol Peak is the closest 14er to Glenwood Springs, but it is also the most dangerous and deadly. Infamous for its famous ‘Knife’s Edge’ ridge, this mountain features extreme exposure, loose rock, and a long approach hike. Most people choose to backpack up to the lake and then climb the peak the second day. Don’t attempt this without serious preparation, experience, and research – many people have lost their lives climbing this mountain.

Click here to read the route guide.

  • Standard Route: Northeast Ridge
  • Trailhead: Capitol Creek
  • Elevation Gain: 5,300 feet
  • Round-Trip Distance: 17 Miles
  • Difficulty Level: Class 4 Climb
  • Range: Elk Mountains

2. Snowmass Mountain – 1 Hour, 5 Minutes Away

Snowmass has the unique distinction of being one of the only 14ers that is typically climbed with crampons and an ice axe. The peak’s namesake snowmass lasts throughout the summer, and is best crossed using mountaineering gear. With a long 22-mile round-trip hike, one of the longest of any 14er, it’s easiest to spend the night at Snowmass Lake near tree line. Following the snow and ice, you’ll face class 3 climbing along a loose ridge that leads up to the summit. This is not a peak for beginners.

Click here to read the route guide.

  • Standard Route: East Slopes
  • Trailhead: Snowmass Creek
  • Elevation Gain: 5,800 feet
  • Round-Trip Distance: 22 Miles
  • Difficulty Level: Class 3 Scramble
  • Range: Elk Mountains

Maroon Peak

3. Maroon Bells & Pyramid Peak – 1 Hour, 10 Minutes Away

The Maroon Bells are the most photographed mountains in Colorado, famous for their vivid maroon-colored rock. However the rock is also notoriously loose, and the peaks infamous for taking many lives over the years. Reaching the summits requires class 3 and 4 climbing with difficult route finding and navigation. Due to these challenges, many people call them the “Death Bells.” Pyramid Peak, located across the valley from the Bells, is similarly challenging, named for its steep symmetrical peaks. Wait to climb these three 14ers until you have the proper experience.

Click here to read the Maroon Peak route guide.

  • Standard Route: South Ridge
  • Trailhead: Capitol Creek
  • Elevation Gain: 5,300 feet
  • Round-Trip Distance: 17 Miles
  • Difficulty Level: Class 4 Climb
  • Range: Elk Mountains

Click here to read the North Maroon Peak route guide.

  • Standard Route: Northeast Ridge
  • Trailhead: Maroon Lake
  • Elevation Gain: 4,500 feet
  • Round-Trip Distance: 9.25 Miles
  • Difficulty Level: Class 4 Climb
  • Range: Elk Mountains

Click here to read the Pyramid Peak route guide

  • Standard Route: Northeast Ridge
  • Trailhead: Maroon Lake
  • Elevation Gain: 4,500 feet
  • Round-Trip Distance: 8.5 Miles
  • Difficulty Level: Class 4 Climb
  • Range: Elk Mountains

Castle Peak

4. Castle Peak and Conundrum Peak – 1 Hour, 15 Minutes Away

Castle and Conundrum are the easiest two peaks in the Elk mountains, but that doesn’t mean they’re easy. Both involve long hikes and serious scrambling – although not nearly as exposed as on Capitol, Pyramid, or the Maroon Bells. In early summer when there is still snow on the route, an ice ax and crampons may be necessary for a safe ascent. While these are okay peaks for those with moderate experience, they are not ideal for beginners.

Click here to read the Castle Peak route guide.

  • Standard Route: Northeast Ridge
  • Trailhead: Castle Creek
  • Elevation Gain: 4,600 feet
  • Round-Trip Distance: 13.5 Miles
  • Difficulty Level: Class 2+ Scramble
  • Range: Elk Mountains

Click here to read the Conundrum Peak route guide.

  • Standard Route: South Ridge
  • Trailhead: Castle Creek
  • Elevation Gain: 4,400 feet
  • Round-Trip Distance: 13.5 Miles
  • Difficulty Level: Class 2+ Scramble
  • Range: Elk Mountains

5. Mount of the Holy Cross – 1 Hour, 35 Minutes Away

Mount of the Holy Cross is the closest of the Sawatch Range 14ers near Glenwood Springs. It’s also the second easiest on the list, with easy class 2 scrambling and a moderate approach hike. I still recommend doing it as a backpacking overnight trip as there are great camping sites along the creek on the standard route. The mountain is famous for the couloir on its east face which fills with snow and resembles a large white cross.

Click here to read the route guide.

  • Standard Route: North Ridge
  • Trailhead: Half Moon
  • Elevation Gain: 5,600 feet
  • Round-Trip Distance: 12 Miles
  • Difficulty Level: Class 2 Scramble
  • Range: Sawatch Range

6. La Plata Peak – 1 Hour, 50 Minutes Away

La Plata is another great Sawatch Range peak, and the easiest of the 14ers near Glenwood Springs. It’s a simple, quick class 2 hike and scramble up to the summit. You’ll also get to drive up and over Independence Pass to reach this peak, which has great opportunities to view wildlife and the mountains. If you want to climb your first 14er, La Plata Peak is my hands-down top recommendation. It provides great views of the Arkansas River Valley without too much risk.

Click here to read the route guide.

  • Standard Route: Northwest Ridge
  • Trailhead: La Plata Peak
  • Elevation Gain: 4,500 feet
  • Round-Trip Distance: 9.25 Miles
  • Difficulty Level: Class 2 Scramble
  • Range: Sawatch Range

Tips for Climbing the 14ers Near Glenwood Springs

Many of these peaks are difficult and potentially even deadly. The right knowledge and gear is critical to ensure you have a safe and successful ascent. Here are some tips to have a great time on your 14er hike or climb.

  • Start early and be back below treeline by 1pm to avoid afternoon thunderstorms.
  • Be mindful of the parking and shuttle requirements for visiting the Maroon Bells area.
  • Always wear a climbing helmet in class 3 and class 4 terrain.
  • Leave your itinerary with someone at home in case something goes wrong.
  • Acclimate your climb by camping near the trailhead the night before your ascent.

What Gear Do You Need for the 14ers Near Glenwood Springs?

The 14ers near Glenwood Springs aren’t a walk in the park. The right equipment will help you reach the summit and handle the unique alpine conditions found on these peaks. I recommend hiking boots rather than shoes because they provide more ankle support. Layering clothing helps you adapt to changing weather conditions, and the ten essentials allow you to respond proactively to emergency situations. Click here to read a full list of my gear recommendations for the 14ers near Glenwood Springs.

Leave No Trace on Your Hike or Climb

As more and more people head to the mountains to hike, camp, and climb, their impact on the environment continues to grow in turn. By practicing Leave No Trace outdoor ethics you help preserve the peaks we all love so future generations can visit them as well. Here are some critically important Leave No Trace practices to use on your next trip to the 14ers near Glenwood Springs.

  1. Plan ahead and prepare.
  2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
  3. Properly dispose of waste.
  4. Leave what you find.
  5. Minimize campfire impacts.
  6. Respect wildlife.
  7. Be courteous to others in the outdoors.

The Best 14ers Near Glenwood Springs: Now You Know!

As you can see, there are a wide variety of 14ers near Glenwood Springs. This area is home to everything ranging from class 2 scrambles to class 5 technical climbs and even class mountaineering snow climbs. When deciding which peak to climb, consider your own experience level carefully. Many people have lost their lives in the Elk range because they climbed something out of their comfort zone. When in doubt, stick to the Sawatch Range for a safe climb. Safe travels on the trail!

More Resources About the 14ers Near Glenwood Springs

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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