Companion bills introduced this fall in the House and Senate would add greater safeguards to more than 61,000 acres in southwestern Colorado. Here are five cool things that would be protected if the legislation passes:
• Mt. Sneffels. Yup, this striking 14,150-foot peak isn’t covered by the existing Mt. Sneffels Wilderness—only about one-third of the mountain is currently protected. The planned 13,231-acre expansion would fix that.
• Whitehouse Mountain and the other high peaks west of Ouray. This is the million-dollar (billion-dollar?) view you get across the Double RL Ranch as you head west out of Ridgway. The newly expanded Sneffels Wilderness would encompass most of these beauties.
• McKenna Peak. A new, 8,614-acre wilderness area will protect Colorado’s badlands, with wild horses, expansive piñon-juniper woodlands, abundant wildlife, fossil beds, and—get this—no developed trails.
• U.S. Grant Mountain. This rugged 13er, along with Pilot Knob and the other high peaks south of Ophir and west of Silverton—plus Ice Lake and the other stunning alpine tarns in this area—will be covered under the new, 21,697-acre Sheep Mountain Special Management Area.
• The Hardrock 100. The super-tough San Juans ultra is grandfathered under the proposed wilderness expansions. Similarly, heli-skiing, mountain biking, and other existing recreational uses of the Sheep Mountain area will be allowed.