“Fourteeners” in the San Juan Mountains
The remote and rugged Wilson Group and Wilson Peak, 13 miles southwest of Telluride, rise like sentinels of the San Miguel Mountains. El Diente, located in the San Juan National Forest, is only 7 miles west of Ouray and five miles north of Telluride. Mount Wilson (14,023), the highest peak in Dolores County, was not named for President Woodrow Wilson but rather for A.D. Wilson, chief topographer of the U.S. Government’s Hayden Survey (1873-75), a renowned geographer and mountaineer who made the first ascent of five Colorado 14ers (Uncompahgre, Sneffels, Sunshine, Mt. Wilson, and Handies).
Visit any of the towns along the San Juan Skyway and you’re surrounded by high mountain valleys and 13er peaks. Silverton sits in BLM land with three national forests that feature alpine valleys and towering peaks. Driving south to Silverton from Ouray on 550, the highway crosses Red Mountain Pass (11,018). North from Durango the road crosses Coal Bank (10,640 ft.) and Molas (10,970 ft.) Visitors to Telluride are about 10 miles northwest of Lizard Head Wilderness with its 3 14ers and several 13ers. Located in the Mount Sneffels Wilderness, Mount Sneffels rises 7,200 feet above the towns of Ridgway and Ouray, creating one of the most photographed scenic ridgelines in the San Juans.