Few places symbolize, and realize, the rugged beauty of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains like the Holy Cross Wilderness. It’s huge, for starters—more than 123,000 acres, 190 square miles—and as wild as the bear, deer, elk, lions, and lynx that live there. One of the United States’ most iconic peaks, 14,005-foot Mount of the Holy Cross, anchors the view, towering above lakes and cirques carved out by glaciers. Visitors on foot or horseback have access to 164 miles of trails, a network transiting as pure a Western landscape as exists anywhere on earth. Twenty-six mountains stand taller than 13,000 feet—and a lot of them still see very few people. If you like nature’s majesty, this is your place.
It would take a lifetime to explore the Holy Cross Wilderness in its entirety, and even those who have come here for decades say they’ve only scratched the surface. We spent the past few summers getting to know this place, producing this guide to the crown jewel of Eagle County’s public lands. Take a map, a compass, and GPS so you won’t get lost, and in the journey, find your spirit restored.