Ride horses to our lakeside mountain base camp at 10,000 feet in the Colorado Rockies. Watch the sun crawl down Devil’s Kettle until it lights up the meadow in the valley below. Journey through aspen and lodge pole pine to the Continental Divide and take in the stunning view. Explore new trails through wildflower meadows. Venture to the high country on switchback trails. If you’re into horses, you’ll love getting to know Ipsus, Blackie, and Squeak. Keep your eyes peeled for elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep, golden eagles, marmot, pika, and the elusive cougar. After an exciting day’s ride, you can fish in a mountain lake teeming with trout. The Gunnison country of western Colorado is vast, pure, and wild. This is an adventure you will remember for years to come.
ItineraryExpand All Fields
Day 1: Welcome to the Colorado Rockies! Get to know your trip mates and settle into hotel accommodations.
Meet your group in Gunnison, CO. At dinner get to know trip mates during trip orientation and prepare for the next days' adventures. Tonight's accommodations will be at a local hotel.
Day 2: Meet the horses and ride to the beautiful base camp situated on a lake
Travel to the Mineral Creek trailhead south of Gunnison, CO to meet the wrangler, horses, and ride to the base camp situated on a beautiful lake in the Rockies. Learn about horses and explore the area in the evening. Don't forget to look for shooting stars!
Day 3: Saddle up the horses for a full0-day adventure through Aspen and Lodge Pole Pine.
Get up early to experience the sun rising and turning Devil's Kettle into a beautiful orange glow. Review horse-packing skills and saddle up the horses before taking off for the day. Ride in the mountains on winding, switchback trails through Aspen and Lodge Pole Pine.
Day 4: Enjoy a beautiful ride up above the tree line, take in views of the Rocky Mountains.
For the adventurous, try fishing in the spring-fed lake in the meadow before breakfast. Enjoy sitting by the lake as the sun rises and watch beavers busily working to construct and maintain their dam. After breakfast venture to the high country, above the tree line, to enjoy the splendor of the Rocky Mountains. There may even be the opportunity to sit on the Continental Divide! Keep your eyes peeled and camera ready as we search for Big Horn sheep and elk.
Day 5: Ride a new trail, hike though mountain flowers, or sit by the lake watching beavers.
Enjoy a relaxed morning as you choose to ride a trail not yet explored, hike through a meadow of colorful wildflowers, or sit by the lake watching beavers.
Day 6: Enjoy one last ride through the high country before saying farewell to your trip mates.
Get an early start to ride back to the trailhead. Soak in the last bit of mountain atmosphere and reflect on your adventure in the high country. The trip officially ends in the afternoon in Gunnison, CO. Those using Wilderness Inauiry's van transportation can expect to return to Denver in the evening.
Dates & Fees
Wilderness Inquiry leads trips to the Colorado Rockies but currently has no dates scheduled for this itinerary. If you have a group of people interested, we can set up a customized adventure just for you! Please contact us or request a trip quote below if you are interested in a group trip to this destination.Request Trip Quote »
What to Expect
TERRAIN/ROUTE CHOICES: The Colorado Rockies are beautiful and rugged. Saddle up at the trailhead and ride a couple hours to our base camp in a beautiful setting at 10,000 feet elevation. From there, you will enjoy full and half day rides to various places, including the Continental Divide at 12,000 feet.
TYPE OF TRAVEL/DISTANCE: Travel by horseback, use saddlebags and pack animals to carry equipment across trails. An average day’s travel from base camp consists of 3-5 hours of riding, depending on the weather and terrain. Travel distances vary from 8-10 miles per day. No previous experience is needed to complete this trip, but you must have the ability to mount and ride a horse in a western saddle for 4 to 5 hours per day.
WEATHER: Temperatures in the summer months range from 35 F to 90 F. Mornings and evenings can be chilly as a result of the altitude.
YOUR GROUP: The group size ranges from 6 to 8 participants, 2 wranglers, and 1 Wilderness Inquiry staff. Each group consists of people of various ages, backgrounds and abilities, including people with disabilities.
ACCOMMODATIONS: Sleep in wall tents at night. Typically there are 4-5 people per tent (divided by gender). Other arrangements may be made if necessary. Bathroom facilities consist of a foldable commode chair or outhouse.
MEALS: Enjoy preparing meals together using fresh, healthy ingredients for bountiful dishes. Rise to the smell of freshly brewed coffee to enjoy with your breakfast and pack trail lunches with hearty snacks before heading off to explore. In the evening, we’ll prepare our dinner together over stoves and campfires. If you have special dietary restrictions, be sure to list them on your registration.
EQUIPMENT AND CLOTHING: Wilderness Inquiry will provide all group equipment. You will need to provide your personal gear as outlined in the packing list. If you are new to outdoor activities, you do not need to spend a lot of money. Wilderness Inquiry can usually arrange for you to borrow most items.
FISHING: This trip supports fishing for cutthroat trout in nearby ponds and streams. You must buy a Colorado fishing license, which you can get the first morning of the trip, or online.
COVID POLICY: We continue to monitor and update our COVID-19 policies. Wilderness Inquiry strongly encourages everyone to be fully up to date with their COVID-19 vaccination and take other necessary steps for the health and wellness of all. We ask you to self-screen for any signs of illness prior to your trip’s departure. Please contact Wilderness Inquiry if you are exhibiting signs of illness. We will also continue to follow all guidance and requirements of locations that we travel, keeping in mind some international destinations do require vaccinations and/or negative covid tests. We will update this policy as new information and guidance becomes available.
SAFETY WHILE ON TRAIL: Though not required, some individuals may choose to wear a mask, and we expect all participants to respect this choice. Please ensure proper hygiene including, but not limited to, hand-washing and/or sanitizing before eating and after using the restroom. Individuals who become ill or test positive for COVID-19 during a Wilderness Inquiry experience will be isolated to the best of the group’s ability and are responsible for their own transportation and expenses to depart the trip.Read more »
About the AreaThe alpine areas of the Gunnison National Forest in southwestern Colorado, on the west slope of the central Rocky Mountains, feature two peaks over 14,000 feet and another 20 peaks over 13,000 feet in elevation. The La Garita, Collegiate Peaks, Maroon Bells-Snowmass, Raggeds, Fossil Ridge, Powderhorn and West Elk areas — all designated by Congress as official Wildernesses — provide popular backcountry destinations.
Located within the Gunnison National Forest, the 129,000-acre La Garita Wilderness remains one of Colorado’s more lightly visited wilderness areas, even though it was an original unit of the National Wilderness Preservation System in 1964. “La Garita” means lookout in Spanish. This high Rocky Mountain country provides the sensation of being in a watchtower, high above the surrounding landscape. Our horsepack trip travels through this alpine country, above the tree line. The terrain consists mainly of gently sloping meadows and picturesque alpine bowls. Wildlife abounds in this high country, where visitors commonly see black bears, snowshoe hares, golden eagles, and coyotes. Bobcats and mountain lions live in the area, too, yet seldom show themselves.
From the summit of La Garita’s single fourteener (14,014-foot San Luis Peak), visitors can gaze across the upper Rio Grande Valley and down the long stretch of the San Luis Valley. About 35 miles of the Continental Divide lie well above a sprawling forestland that provides ideal habitat for huge numbers of elk and mule deer, though the animals may winter on the northern slopes when hard winds scour off the snow cover. On the southern slopes in Wason Park and Silver Park, visitors find a surprising ancient forest of towering spruce and fir. This is a land of rushing streams, broad and gentle alpine meadows, fascinating beaver ponds, long talus slopes, and tremendous mountain beauty.
Layers of volcanic basalt comprise the mountains in this area. The manner in which this basalt formed and cooled resulted in long vertical columns of rock, hexagonal in cross section. This has resulted in dramatic vistas filled with towers of rock.
The ideal summers in this area feature typically cool Rocky Mountain temperatures. Sometimes, the daytime temperatures climb, requiring a dip in a mountain stream or lake. Cool temperatures arrive as the sun sets on the La Garita high country.
Gunnison’s human history dates back 6,000 years to the Prehistoric Archaic period when nomadic groups traversed the high mountain valleys of the inner mountain region in search of migrating wildlife. The Mountain Ute Indians, and later mountain men, settled the fertile river valleys, surviving on the abundance of game. Captain John W. Gunnison and an extensive party of explorers in search of a transcontinental railroad route explored the area in 1853. In the late 1870s, prospectors discovered gold and silver. Typical of small western communities located in mountain valleys, Gunnison was shaped by ranching, the advent of the railroad, and mining. More recently, recreation-based tourism has fueled Gunnison’s economy. Approximately two million tourists passed through Gunnison in 1995; winter and summer destinations include Curecanti National Recreation Area, Black Canyon National Monument, and Crested Butte Mountain Ski Resort. Additionally, outdoor recreation enthusiasts including hunters, fishermen, hikers, and mountain bicyclists frequent the public lands surrounding Gunnison on a year round basis.Read more »