Indian Peaks Wilderness Permits

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Shirt357

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Jan 24, 2017
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I've been doing some research and considering some sort of backpacking trip to Indian Peaks. I know you need permits and it looks like they only way to get one is via a snail mail request or showing up in person (correct me if I am incorrect please). So couple of questions I had is:

1. How hard is it to get a permit? Any areas it would be tougher to get one for (I'll guess Crater lake is for one)? And is best choice to do snail mail or anyone think there is luck in just showing up?
2. Any recommended areas to try for a permit in or any recommended routes?

Thanks!
Nick
 

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RyanP

Formerly bob32
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Mar 1, 2015
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I've always just called them and requested a permit over the phone. They then mail the permit to you.

Crater lake is now a tough permit to get; I'll bet it's all booked for the summer. That area is the crown jewel of the ipw though. If you can go after labor day, you might be able to get a permit, and that can be the best time of year there as well.

What type of backpacking do you have in mind? Peak-bagging from base camp? Backpacking loops? If you give us a better idea of your criteria (miles per day, etc), we can offer suggestions.

Much of the ipw is very crowded, but it's still my favorite place to go backpacking within 2 hours of Denver.
 

Shirt357

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@RyanP ... thanks for the response.

Honestly, I enjoy both loops and peak-bagging. Having never been to IPW, I would be open to either. Looking to do 1-3 nights probably. As far as mileage goes, I can make 10-15 miles a day easy if I want to, but its not required. I think I am just looking for a good trip to get a feel for some of what IPW has to offer. Also, while Crater lake definitely appears to be stunning, I am really fine checking out other areas so if you had some recommendations, I would greatly appreciate it.
 

mike_offerman

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Feb 8, 2012
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If you want to go into Crater Lake, you don't need a permit after Sept 15th. The West side is far less crowded than the East side.

If you setup a base camp on the saddle to the North of Mt Irving Hale, you can make a nice day hikes over to Cooper/Marten/Martenette, Hiamovi/Hiamovi Tower, and Watanga/Adams/Roaring/Twin.

Wheeler Basin is also spectacular and wouldn't be crowded, you can hike in from Monarch Lake or over Arapaho Pass. You could climb Hopi/Achonee or some of the unmentionable peaks to the East.
 

RyanP

Formerly bob32
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Mar 1, 2015
Messages
99
Listen to Mike; I highly doubt that anyone on here knows the Indian peaks better than him. Modified versions of his two suggestions are both near the top of my to-do list.

The wheeler basin option is sort of off-trail. If you do that one, please do NOT post a trip report!

The Pawnee-buchanan loop is a wonderful traditional backpacking loop. It's similar to the four pass loop (a touch easier, and not quite as consistently scenic). It's somewhat crowded (though not as bad as the four pass loop), but will give you a good feel for the ipw. It will take you to fox park (west side of Buchanan pass), lone eagle Cirque (make sure to make that detour!), and lake Isabelle---in my opinion these are some of the nicest places around. The stretch of trail from Crater lake to lake Isabelle is one of my favorite stretches of trail I've been on.
 

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