Untamed wilderness: Making it through Never Summer
At the far northern tip of Grand County, in a space of land wedged between the Kawuneeche Valley and the vast plain of North Park, lies an expanse of untamed wilderness whose very name evokes the scenes of snowcapped peaks visitors find almost year-round.
The 21,000-acre wilderness area takes its name from the deep pockets of snow that linger well into summer, in some cases year round depending on multiple factors. The wilderness area largely sits in the shadow of the long spine of peaks running from Baker Mountain through the Cloud Mountains up to the 12,940 feet tall Mount Richthofen.
It is a popular spot for day hikers and backcountry campers and because of its status as a wilderness area all motorized travel, including bicycle use, is prohibited. Several portions of the northern and central Never Summer Wilderness are more easily accessed via Jackson County but the southern portions of the Never Summer Wilderness including Bowen Trail and the popular camping sites around Bowen Lake are most easily reached from Grand County.
The Never Summer Wilderness contains immense beauty and quiet trails far from the well-worn path where you will encounter comparatively few human trekkers. Wildlife is abundant in the area including deer, elk and moose and it is not unusual to encounter one or all of those species on a summer hike. As such anyone hiking in the area should remember to avoid wildlife to the best of their ability, especially moose, and remember to keep any dogs on leashes, as required by federal regulations.
The Never Summer Wilderness is remote by Colorado standards. There is little to no cell phone service throughout the wilderness and assistance from search and rescue crews or first responders will be hours in coming, even after calls for help have been received. Anyone looking to tackle the solitude of the Never Summers should come prepared with plenty of food and water and additional cold weather clothing. Even in the heart of summer the wilderness often maintains brisk temperatures.
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