Wheeler Geologic Area in Southern Colorado is one of the many hidden gems in our beautiful state that you may not have known existed.
One of the most staggering geologic sites in Colorado is the Wheeler Geologic Area. When you’re surrounded by mighty mountain ranges, this area seems almost out of place in Colorado.
It’s truly a beautiful landscape created through coarse volcanic materials from the explosion of the La Garita Caldera 30 million years ago. It was one of the largest known volcanic eruptions in history. There’s now erosion of the surface layers, meaning we are left with these monumental spires and pinnacles encompassed with steep slopes. This means that the area very fragile. It can crumble with any external force, like rain or harsh winds. Due to the rough terrain, it is nearly impossible to hike through the spires.
There is, however, a hiking trail in the nearby area that visitors are welcome to trek across. The trail travels into forest and meadow areas before dipping down into East Bellows Creek, which lies on the edge of the La Garita Wilderness. It’s a lengthy trail at 16.7 miles, from start to finish. Horseback riding is another mode of transportation that many visitors use while enjoying the scenery the area has to offer.
Four-wheeling is also a popular attraction of the Wheeler Geologic Area. Many guests enjoy the relative ease of the drive as it winds around for a 14-mile long trip. It can be a dangerous trek with wet roads and erosion creating grooves, in addition to having narrow twists and bends, so be cautious when traveling. There are signs marking the entire road to help you make the journey. There is lodging available, if needed, that's located about half a mile away from the Geologic Area, at the Hanson’s Mill site. The campground offers an incredible vantage point for viewing distant mountains.
Planning a trip? The best time of the year to visit Wheeler Geologic Area is during the warmer months of the year so you can avoid the dangerous weather. We should note that you should come prepared for cold weather regardless of the time of year. This is due to the high altitude and the possibility of a storm rolling in.