Backpack to Wetterhorn Basin

Rate this Adventure Colorado West Cimarron Trailhead

Added by Kim Bessler

  • Come for the wildflowers stay for the solitude
  • Beautiful mountain streams with breathtaking sunrises and sunsets
  • Distance: 13 miles RT from 2WD pull off, 9 miles RT from 4WD high clearance West Cimmaron Trailhead
  • Elevation gain: 2,200 feet with 800 feet added on the return = 3,000 feet total
  • Duration: 3 days. 2 nights

This trip is for the lover of solitude and the appreciator of the unscathed backcountry. Wetterhorn Basin is in the heart of the beautiful San Juan Mountain range in Southwestern Colorado.

With a 4WD high clearance vehicle start at the West Cimarron Trailhead at 10,750 feet (38.1117N -107.5533W), without, start 1.8 miles down the road at the 2WD pull off (there is a sign).

Follow the West Fork Trail 3.5 miles south to the summit of 12,500 foot West Fork Pass (38.0798N -107.5464W). The trail is well established but numerous washouts throughout the forest can make staying on it tricky. Keep an eye out for cairns. Gaining West Fork Pass with a heavy pack is the most grueling part of the hike. The trail leads up a steep loose head wall where special attention should be paid. The views on the other side are glorious as Wetterhorn Basin and the surrounding mountains open up.

The trail will be swallowed by the amazing vegetation as progression through the basin is made. There are large sticks pointing up every now and then. They are easy to spot and an assurance the right path is being chosen.

There are no established camp spots in Wetterhorn Basin but with a little exploration the perfect home can be found. It is unlikely there will be other people around. What an incredible experience to have such an amazing place to oneself.

There are plenty of hiking, mountain climbing, and rock climbing options in the area but backcountry skills are a necessity as there are no established trails past the basin. Colorado's iconic Wetterhorn Peak (14,015') dominates the views and steals the show.

Make sure to check out Curecanti National Recreational area and the town of Gunnison while in the area. Morrow Point Reservoir provides some fun in the water and Gunnison is full of restaurants, shops, and eclectic charm. I highly recommend Twisted Fork!

Pack List

  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Backpacking essentials
  • Cord to tie food up in trees
  • Water filtration
  • Good trail shoe
  • Map of area
  • Trekking poles
  • Sense of adventure
Read More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More



Backpacking, Camping, Chillin, Hiking

Skill Level:



Spring, Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:



13 Miles

Elev. Gain:

3000 Feet



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Added by Kim Bessler

I am an easy going lover of the outdoors.

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