Colorado is full of high mountain peaks to climb and explore. There are 58 across the state that qualify as "fourteeners" or "14ers," with peaks exceeding 14,000 feet in elevation. 14ers bring a fun challenge to the table for outdoor enthusiasts and even beginner hikers. 14ers can vary in length and accessibility, making each experience truly unique. Some are accessible by an easy drive, while others will require a train ride or vehicles made for rough terrain. Check out the variety of Colorado 14ers near Durango below and plan in one of these excursions for your trip.
Difficulty: Class Rankings
14ers are ranked on the Yosemite Decimal System, which uses "classes" to rank hikes from 1 (easiest) to 5 (most difficult).
- Class 1: Easier hikes, sometimes on a good trail.
- Class 2: Slightly more challenging hikes with some off-trail trekking.
- Class 3: Hikes requiring you to utilize your hands to hold on to portions of the terrain and more steep climbs.
- Class 4: Difficult hikes involving climbing, handholds and footholds, rope and other equipment.
- Class 5: Technical hikes that will require rope, belaying, rock climbing, and more.
Needle Mountain 14ers
Within the Needle Mountains in Southwest Colorado, there are three 14ers near Durango: Sunlight, Windom and Eolus. These peaks are usually grouped together and climbed in the same day or weekend due to the fact that they are fairly remote. The 14ers within this range can be accessed in slightly different ways, but most common way is on the Durango Train utilizing the wilderness access stop at Needleton.
Sunlight Peak: 14,059 ft Elevation. Sunlight Peak is around 28 miles North of Durango. The most common route to access the peak is the South Face route, ranked at a class 4 difficulty level. In total, the trek is 17 miles and involves a 6,000 foot elevation gain.
Windom Peak: 14,092 ft Elevation. Windom Peak is more remote than Sunlight Peak and not near any roads. The standard route for this hike is West Ridge, with a distance of 17 miles ranked at a class 2 difficulty.
Mt. Eolus: 14,083 ft Elevation & North Eolus: 14,039 ft Elevation. Eolus offers two peaks that qualify as 14ers. Both are also accessible via Durango Train wilderness access at the Needleton stop. Accessing Mount Eolus is most commonly done via the Northeast Ridge route, with a 6,100 foot elevation gain over a 17 mile, class 3 hike. North Eolus is most commonly accessed via South Ridge, with a 6,000 foot elevation gain over a 16.75 mile, class 3 hike. Choose one to hike and you can access the other from near the summit, adding only around a quarter mile to your trip.
The Wilson Group
The Wilson Group consists of three 14ers near Durango located within close proximity of one another in the San Juan Mountains: Mt. Wilson, El Diente Peak and Wilson Peak. These 14ers are about 13 miles southwest of Telluride. Many hikers choose to tackle both Mt. Wilson and El Diente Peak in the same day. Wilson Peak is typically done on a separate day.
Mt. Wilson: 14,246 ft Elevation. Mt. Wilson is most commonly accessed on the North Slopes route. This route is approximately 16 miles long with a total elevation gain of 5,100 feet. It's a class 4 hike, making it more difficult and sometimes requiring the use of ropes.
El Diente Peak: 14,159 ft Elevation. Due to their close proximity, El Diente Peak is often paired with Mt. Wilson and summited on the same day. It is also accessed via the North Slopes route. This hike is 15 miles long and ranked at a class 3 difficulty.
Wilson Peak: 14,017 ft Elevation. Wilson Peak is accessed via Southwest Ridge. Starting from the Rock of Ages Trailhead, it's a 10 mile hike with 3,800 feet of elevation gain. It is ranked at a class 3 difficulty.
Handies Peak Via Cinnamon Pass
Handies Peak is one of the most popular Colorado 14ers near Durango because of its Class 1 rating and shorter distance. To access this peak, you'll either need a 4WD vehicle with good clearance or you must park below the trailhead and hike an additional .9 miles. If you start at trailhead, it is a 5.5 mile hike, gaining 2,500 feet in elevation. It's ranked as a class 1 difficulty, making it one of the easiest 14ers in the area.
Mount Sneffels: Queen of the San Juan Mountains
Sneffels Peak has the 2nd high elevation in the San Juan Mountain range. There are two common routes - The Standard Route and The Southwest Ridge. If you start at the upper trailhead, it's a 3 mile hike gaining 1,750 feet. If you start at the restroom parking area, it'll be a 6.5 mile hike gaining 2,950 feet in elevation. Mount Sneffels is a class 3, moderately difficult hike.
While Colorado 14ers near Durango offer incredible views of the mountain ranges, you'll want to be careful and prepare your body so you do not experience altitude sickness. Check out our tips for vacationing at a high altitude to find out how to get your body ready.