Whistlestop Wilderness

Want to fast track into the backcountry? Catch a ride on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, which has two stops along the edge of the Weminuche Wilderness. Take in the views as the historic coal-fired train chugs along a narrow ledge overlooking the Animas River. When the whistle blows, hop off at Needleton and head for the hills. Here the rugged Needle Mountains thrust skyward, topping out on Mount Eolus, Sunlight Peak, and Windom Peak—each just a hair over 14,000 feet.

From Needleton, it’s a half-mile walk to the trailhead, then a steady six-mile grunt up 3,000 feet to Chicago Basin. Set up camp and wake early so you bust out all three fourteeners in one shot (solid hiking and climbing skills recommended). Or simply chillax in the basin or hike to Twin Lakes. You’ll see lots of mountain goats, which can be pesky in their quest for your pee (they’re after the salt). May–October, one train a day stops at Needleton, one hour 20 minutes from Durango. Reservations recommended. $91, plus $10 per backpack.

Photo:  Yvonne/durangotrain.com
Photo: Yvonne/durangotrain.com

Related Stories

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...

Blues from the Top Music Festival Celebrates 18 Years of Blues on August 14, 2021

On Saturday, August 14, 2021, Grand County’s Winter Park will host the 18th Annual Blues from the Top (BFTT) ‘Day of Blues’ from 11AM-7PM...

Get Outdoors Like Never Before with Adventure Pass!

Want to participate in a variety of awesome outdoor adventures year-round? Well, it’s easy with RMOC’s Adventure Pass, an affordable pass offering access to...

Buena Vista Outfitter Takes Outdoor Skills to the Next Level

So you’ve lived in Colorado for a few years now. You have even climbed to the top of several fourteeners and gone backcountry ski...

The All-New Looper MIPS Helmet

Sweet Protection is based in Norway and was founded by a tight-knit group of skiers, riders, cyclists and paddlers, looking to make the best...