Southern Colorado 14ers

Southern Colorado 14ers: A Guide

There are twenty-four southern Colorado 14ers. They’re divided into two ranges: The large and rugged San Juans to the southwest, and the fault-block Sangre de Christo Range which rises abruptly from the valleys along it. Because these 14ers are so far from the populated Front Range, solitude is almost guaranteed on most of these peaks. Here’s an overview of these beautiful peaks and links to guide info to climb them.

Table of Contents

The 14 San Juan Range 14ers

The San Juans are the largest mountain range in Colorado, covering a large area in the southwest corner of the state. You’ll find 14 high peaks here, with a range of options in terms of difficulty and other factors. They are grouped in six clusters, ranging from solo peaks to groups of four. Here’s an overview of each group and peak.

The Chicago Basin Group

Nestled in the Weminuche Wilderness, the Chicago Basin includes several of the most difficult-to-climb southern Colorado 14ers. This, in addition to a long six-mile approach, makes them a difficult group of summits to ascend. Here’s an overview of the four peaks.

Southern Colorado 14ers: Mount Eolus

Mount Eolus - 14,090 feet

  • Route: Northeast Ridge
  • Trailhead: Needleton
  • Elevation Gain: 6,100 feet
  • Round-Trip Distance: 17 Miles
  • Difficulty: Class 3 Scramble
  • Range: San Juan Range

North Eolus - 14,045 feet

  • Standard Route: South Ridge
  • Trailhead: Needleton
  • Elevation Gain: 6,000 feet
  • Round-Trip Distance: 17 Miles
  • Difficulty: Class 3 Scramble
  • Range: San Juan Range


Read the complete North Eolus route guide.

Southern Colorado 14ers: Sunlight Peak

Sunlight Peak - 14,065 feet

  • Standard Route: South Face
  • Trailhead: Needleton
  • Elevation Gain: 6,000 feet
  • Round-Trip Distance: 17 Miles
  • Difficulty Level: Class 4 Climb
  • Range: San Juan Range


Read the complete Sunlight Peak route guide.

Southern Colorado 14ers: Windom Peak

Windom Peak - 14,321 feet

  • Standard Route: Southwest Ridge
  • Trailhead: Needleton
  • Elevation Gain: 6,000 feet
  • Round-Trip Distance: 17 Miles
  • Difficulty Level: Class 2+ Scramble
  • Range: San Juan Range


Read the complete Windom Peak route guide.

The Wilson Group

The Wilson group is a small outcropping of alpine terrain to the west of the main San Juans with three 14ers. This provides three different ways to climb and combine these peaks for endless adventures. Here are the three Wilson Group 14ers.

Southern Colorado 14ers: Wilson Peak

Wilson Peak - 14,023 feet

  • Standard Route: Southwest Ridge
  • Trailhead: Rock of Ages
  • Elevation Gain: 3,800 feet
  • Round-Trip Distance: 10 Miles
  • Difficulty Level: Class 3 Climb
  • Range: San Juan Range


Read the complete Wilson Peak route guide

Southern Colorado 14ers: El Diente Peak

El Diente Peak - 14,165 feet

  • Standard Route: North Slopes
  • Trailhead: Rock of Ages
  • Elevation Gain: 5,500 feet
  • Round-Trip Distance: 12 Miles
  • Difficulty Level: Class 3 Scramble
  • Range: San Juan Range


Read the complete El Diente Peak route guide.

Southern Colorado 14ers: Mount Wilson

Mount Wilson - 14,252 feet

  • Standard Route: North Slopes
  • Trailhead: Rock of Ages
  • Elevation Gain: 5,300 feet
  • Round-Trip Distance: 11 Miles
  • Difficulty Level: Class 4 Climb
  • Range: San Juan Range


Read the complete Mount Wilson route guide.

The Handies Group

The Handies Group is home to three if the easiest San Juan summits. They never exceed class 2 difficulty and are far shorter hikes than many of the San Juans deeper in wilderness areas. This also means they’re often more crowded than other southern peaks.

Southern Colorado 14ers: Handies Peak

Handies Peak - 14,048 feet

  • Standard Route: Southwest Slopes
  • Trailhead: American Basin
  • Elevation Gain: 2,500 feet
  • Round-Trip Distance: 5.5 Miles
  • Difficulty Level: Class 1 Hike
  • Range: San Juans


Read the complete Handies Peak route guide.

Redcloud and Sunshine Peaks Route Guide

Redcloud and Sunshine Peak - 14,041 feet

  • Standard Route: Northwest Ridge
  • Trailhead: Silver Creek
  • Elevation Gain: 4,800 feet
  • Round-Trip Distance: 12.25 Miles
  • Difficulty Level: Class 2 Scramble
  • Range: San Juan Range


Read the complete Redcloud and Sunshine Peak route guide.

The Uncompahgre Group

The two Uncompahgre Group 14ers guard the northern reaches of the San Juan Mountains. Standing on either end of a long, high alpine ridge, Wetterhorn Peak and Uncompahgre Peak are mid-difficulty peaks with fantastic routes, small crowds, and tons of wildflowers. What else could you want from a Colorado 14er?

Uncompahgre Peak - 14,321 feet

  • Standard Route: South Ridge
  • Trailhead: Nellie Creek
  • Elevation Gain: 5,500 feet
  • Round-Trip Distance: 15.5 Miles
  • Difficulty Level: Class 2 Scramble
  • Range: San Juan Range


Read the complete Uncompaghre Peak route guide.

Wetterhorn Peak - 14,021 feet

  • Standard Route: Southwest Ridge
  • Trailhead: Matterhorn Creek
  • Elevation Gain: 3,300 feet
  • Round-Trip Distance: 7 Miles
  • Difficulty Level: Class 3 Climb
  • Range: San Juan Range


Read the complete Wetterhorn Peak route guide.

The Sneffels Group

This stand-alone peak to the northwest of the San Juans is a great introduction to Class 3 climbing. It’s a popular climb but it’s still dangerous if you don’t take time to prepare. Here are all the details.

Mt Sneffels Route Guide

Mount Sneffels - 14,150 feet

  • Standard Route: South Slopes
  • Trailhead: Yankee Boy Basin
  • Elevation Gain: 2,900 feet
  • Round-Trip Distance: 6 Miles
  • Difficulty Level: Class 3 Climb
  • Range: San Juan Range


Read the complete Mount Sneffels route guide.

The San Luis Group

San Luis Peak is a bit of a paradox. It’s a very easy Class 1 hike to the summit. However, it’s also among the most isolated peaks in the state, far in the east of the San Juans far from the other 14ers, with miles of dirt roads and creek crossings to reach the trailhead. Here’s some more info.

San Luis Peak Route Guide

San Luis Peak - 14,022 feet

  • Standard Route: Northeast Ridge
  • Trailhead: Stewart Creek
  • Elevation Gain: 3,600 feet
  • Round-Trip Distance: 13.5 Miles
  • Difficulty Level: Class 1 Hike
  • Range: San Juan Range


Read the complete San Luis Peak route guide.

The 10 Sangre de Christo Range 14ers

The Sangre de Christo (blood of Christ) mountains are home to the eastern southern Colorado 14ers. They’re spread into three groups, roughly in the northern, central and southern sections of the range. The peak is traversed by few roads, and much of it is protected, making it some of the best wilderness terrain in the state. Here are the three main peak groups.

The Crestone Group

The Crestone Group, also known as the South Colony Lakes Peaks, are some of the most rugged and stunning mountains in the entire state. These five closely-group summits are clustered around the twin Crestone Peaks, with Humboldt, Challenger, and Kit Carson looming nearby. This area offers everything from Class 2 scrambles to Class 5 classic alpine climbing, guarded by tourists and day hikers by a long 6-mile approach hike. This is an area to spend a lot of time enjoying.

Crestone Peak - 14,300 feet

  • Standard Route: South Face
  • Trailhead: South Colony Lakes
  • Elevation Gain: 5,700 feet
  • Round-Trip Distance: 14 Miles
  • Difficulty Level: Class 3 Scramble
  • Range: Sangre de Christo Range


Read the complete Crestone Peak route guide.

Crestone Needle Rescue Operation

Crestone Needle - 14,203 feet

  • Standard Route: South Face
  • Trailhead: South Colony Lakes
  • Elevation Gain: 5,500 feet
  • Round-Trip Distance: 18 Miles
  • Difficulty Level: Class 3 Climb
  • Range: Sangre de Cristo Range


Read the complete Crestone Needle route guide.

Humboldt Peak - 14,070 feet

  • Standard Route: West Ridge
  • Trailhead: South Colony Lakes
  • Elevation Gain: 4,200 feet
  • Round-Trip Distance: 11 Miles
  • Difficulty Level: Class 2 Scramble
  • Range: Sangre de Cristo Range


Read the complete Humboldt Peak route guide.

Challenger Point - 14,087 feet

  • Standard Route: North Slope
  • Trailhead: Willow Creek
  • Elevation Gain: 5,400 feet
  • Round-Trip Distance: 12.5 Miles
  • Difficulty Level: Class 2 Scramble
  • Range: Sangre de Cristo Range


Read the complete Challenger Point route guide.

Southern Colorado 14ers: Kit Carson Peak

Kit Carson Peak - 14,171 feet

  • Standard Route: Via Challenger Pt.
  • Trailhead: Willow Creek
  • Elevation Gain: 6,250 feet
  • Round-Trip Distance: 14.5 Miles
  • Difficulty Level: Class 3 Climb
  • Range: Sangre de Cristo Range


Read the complete Kit Carson Peak route guide.

The Blanca Group

The Blanca group’s name comes from its highest point and central massif, Blanca Peak. It’s the tallest of the southern Colorado 14ers. Rising high above the San Luis Valley, these routes include massive elevation gain and are long, hard climbs. Enjoy the solitude and feeling of accomplishment that result at the summit! Little Bear Peak is especially notorious for its Hourglass – be prepared!

Blanca Peak - 14,351 feet

  • Standard Route: Northwest Ridge
  • Trailhead: Lake Como Road
  • Elevation Gain: 6,500 feet
  • Round-Trip Distance: 17 Miles
  • Difficulty Level: Class 2 Scramble
  • Range: Sangre de Christo Range


Read the complete Blanca Peak route guide.

Ellingwood Point - 14,048 feet

  • Standard Route: South Face
  • Trailhead: Lake Como Road
  • Elevation Gain: 6,200 feet
  • Round-Trip Distance: 17 Miles
  • Difficulty Level: Class 2 Scramble
  • Range: Sangre de Cristo Range


Read the complete Ellingwood Point route guide.

Southern Colorado 14ers: Little Bear Peak

Little Bear Peak - 14,043 feet

  • Standard Route: West Ridge
  • Trailhead: Lake Como Road
  • Elevation Gain: 6,200 feet
  • Round-Trip Distance: 14 Miles
  • Difficulty Level: Class 4 Climb
  • Range: Sangre de Cristo Range


Read the complete Little Bear Peak route guide.

Southern Colorado 14ers: Mount Lindsey

Mount Lindsey -

NOTICE: Mount Lindsey is currently closed to the public due to landowner liability concerns. Please visit the Fix CRUS Coalition website to learn more about the situation and take action to restore access to this iconic Colorado 14er.

  • Standard Route: Northwest Gully
  • Trailhead: Huerfano/Lily Lake
  • Elevation Gain: 3,500 feet
  • Round-Trip Distance: 8.25 Miles
  • Difficulty Level: Class 3 Climb
  • Range: Sangre de Cristo Range


Read the complete Mount Lindsey route guide.

The Culebra Group

Culebra Peak is the sole 14er of this small sub-range of the Sangres Range. It has the claim to being the only privately owned 14er in the country, for better or worse. On the one hand, you’ll need to pay the Ranch owners $150 or so to ascend it. On the other hand, you’ll get solitude and a pristine, off-trail experience.

Southern Colorado 14ers: Culebra Peak

Culebra Peak - 14,053 feet

  • Standard Route: Northwest Ridge
  • Trailhead: Cielo Vista Ranch
  • Elevation Gain: 2,700 feet
  • Round-Trip Distance: 5 Miles
  • Difficulty Level: Class 2 Scramble
  • Range: Sangre de Cristo Range


Read the complete Culebra Peak route guide.

The Southern Colorado 14ers: Now You Know!

Southern Colorado is a mountaineering paradise, with thousands of square miles of rugged mountains to explore. The San Juans and Sangre de Cristo mountains are some of the most remote and rocky in the state, with dramatic cliffs and crags that bedevil the mind. Always follow mountain safety and leave no trace best practices to limit your impact, respect the land, and increase your chances of having a safe and successful ascent. Safe travels on the trails!

Southern Colorado 14ers FAQs

A: While “easiest” can be subjective, as it depends on an individual’s physical ability, experience, and comfort with altitude, many consider Handies Peak to be the easiest 14er in southern Colorado. It offers a relatively short and straightforward climb, making it a popular choice for beginners. However, please remember, no 14er is to be taken lightly, as each requires preparation and respect for the natural environment.

A: The southernmost 14er in Colorado is Culebra Peak. Situated in the Sangre de Cristo Range, this unique peak requires a fee and a reservation to climb, as it resides on private property.

A: The San Juan Mountains, located in southwestern Colorado, are home to 14 peaks that exceed 14,000 feet, often referred to as “14ers”. They include formidable peaks like Mount Eolus and challenging routes like the Chicago Basin 14ers. Please be aware that conditions can vary and thorough research and preparation are crucial for a safe climbing experience.

A: Many consider Handies Peak to be the easiest 14er in the San Juan Mountains. It offers a clear trail, a moderate incline, and stunning views at the summit. However, as with all 14ers, we advise preparation, caution, and respect for the terrain and weather conditions.

A: The Sangre de Cristo Range, a sub-range of the Rocky Mountains, is home to 10 peaks over 14,000 feet, known as 14ers. This range includes a variety of hiking experiences, from the more accessible Humboldt Peak to the challenging Crestone Needle.

A: Humboldt Peak is often cited as the easiest 14er in the Sangre de Cristo range. It features a well-marked trail and a more moderate slope compared to other peaks in the range. Nonetheless, hikers should prepare adequately for changes in weather and altitude, and should always respect the inherent risks and challenges of high-altitude hiking.

Alex Derr, Founder of The Next Summit

Alex Derr is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located 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. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.

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In 2018, I watched in disbelief as dozens of people hiked into a storm on Longs Peak, unaware of the extreme danger. Soon after, I started The Next Summit to educate and empower the public to safely and responsibly explore America's mountains.

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