”In my opinion, the two most rugged mountain ranges in Colorado are the Gore Range northwest of Dillon Reservoir and the Needles Range in the remote San Juan Mountains.”
– John Fielder (Famous Colorado landscape photographer)
Although the Gore Range provides the backdrop to any skier on Vail Ski Resort or any motorist travelling along I-70 over Vail Pass, the Gores still remain in relative obscurity. Running approximately 60 miles (100 km) northwest-to-southeast, through western Grand and Summit counties, and eastern Routt and Eagle counties, it’s one of Colorado’s most rugged mountain ranges. Densely populated with 102 named or unofficially-named peaks within the confines of the Eagles Nest Wilderness, the Gore Range consists of dramatic 12,000-13,000ft serrated ridges, with summits being ridge junctions or highpoints rather than large isolated mountains rising from the timber or tundra like so many other ranges. The Gores are a fault-block mountain range similar to the Tetons of Wyoming in that these ranges are bounded by faults that broke and shifted, thrusting up the mountains while down-dropping the valleys.
Overall, the Gore Range is relatively inaccessible due to the lack of mining roads that criss-cross so many other Colorado mountain ranges and they have a reputation for a lot of trailhead access red tape, due in large part to private property, particularly on the eastern side. Most of the range remains trail-less, especially in the upper areas, and the network of access trails that do exist are generally long and consist of some relatively huge vertical gains.
It’s because of that ruggedness and access issues that I had never taken too much time to explore the Gore Range; I’ve been staring at it for ten years, but hadn’t spent too much time playing in them except for the easier hikes and destinations. I told myself that this summer, instead of driving off to the San Juans or the Tetons, that I was making it my mission to explore the Gores. My ‘summer of Vail…’
And the Piney Lake bonuses
Drive to access…