Anthracite Range: Overview of Its Wonders


The Anthracite Range, located in Gunnison County, Colorado, is a hidden gem within the West Elk Mountains of the Rocky Mountains. This stunning range offers a unique blend of geological wonders, mountaineering challenges, and pristine wilderness, making it an irresistible destination for outdoor adventurers and nature lovers alike.


  • Anthracite Range is a laccolith formation featuring quartz monzonite porphyry and granodiorite porphyry, with glacial cirques and the Mesaverde Formation at its base.
  • The range offers challenging mountaineering and peak bagging opportunities, with notable summits like Anthracite Range High Point, Ohio Peak, and Unnamed Peaks 12,300 and 11,555.
  • The West Elk Wilderness area within the Gunnison National Forest ensures the conservation and preservation of the range's natural beauty.

Geological Marvels

The Anthracite Range is a testament to the Earth’s incredible geological processes. The range formed as a laccolith, an intrusive igneous rock formation that pushed up through the surrounding sedimentary layers. The range is composed of quartz monzonite porphyry and granodiorite porphyry, creating a unique and visually striking landscape. Glacial cirques and the Mesaverde Formation at the base of the range add to its geological significance and beauty.

Mountaineering and Peakbagging

For mountaineers and peakbaggers, the Anthracite Range offers a thrilling challenge. The range boasts several notable summits, including the Anthracite Range High Point, Ohio Peak, and Unnamed Peaks 12,300 and 11,555. Climbers can access these peaks via the climber’s trail from Ohio Pass, navigating through talus slopes and cirques to reach the rewarding summit views. The sense of accomplishment upon reaching these peaks is unparalleled.

Wilderness and Conservation

The Anthracite Range is settled within the West Elk Wilderness, a protected area that ensures the preservation of the range’s natural beauty and ecological integrity. The wilderness designation, along with the conservation efforts within the Gunnison National Forest, allows visitors to experience the range in its pristine state. The untouched landscapes and thriving ecosystems serve as a reminder of the importance of wilderness conservation.

Hiking Trails and Outdoor Recreation

In addition to mountaineering, the Anthracite Range offers a variety of hiking trails for outdoor enthusiasts of all skill levels. These trails wind through the range’s diverse landscapes, showcasing its geological wonders and offering breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a casual nature lover, the Anthracite Range has a trail that will suit your interests and abilities.

Summit Views and Prominence

One of the most rewarding aspects of exploring the Anthracite Range is the stunning panoramic views from its summits. From the top of Ohio Peak or the high points of the range, you’ll be treated to sweeping vistas of the surrounding West Elk Mountains and the lush valleys below. The concept of prominence, which measures the height of a mountain relative to its surroundings, adds to the allure of these peaks, making them stand out as true giants among the Colorado landscape.

Navigating the Anthracite Range

To make the most of your visit to the Anthracite Range, it’s essential to understand the access points and terrain. The primary access is via Ohio Pass, which leads to the climber’s trail and other hiking routes. It’s crucial to be prepared for the variable weather conditions and to have a solid understanding of the local topography. By taking the necessary precautions and respecting the wilderness, you can safely enjoy all that the Anthracite Range has to offer.


What is the best time of year to visit the Anthracite Range?

– The best time to visit is typically from late June to early September when the weather is most favorable, and the trails are free of snow.

Are there any camping opportunities within the Anthracite Range?

– Yes, there are several designated camping areas within the West Elk Wilderness, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the beauty of the range.

What is the difficulty level of the hiking trails in the Anthracite Range?

– The hiking trails vary in difficulty, ranging from moderate to strenuous. It’s essential to choose a trail that matches your skill level and to come prepared with appropriate gear and supplies.

The Anthracite Range in Colorado is a true gem for those seeking geological wonders, mountaineering challenges, and the serenity of untouched wilderness. With its unique laccolith formation, stunning summit views, and diverse hiking trails, this range offers an unforgettable experience for adventurers and nature enthusiasts alike. By exploring the Anthracite Range, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the incredible geological processes that shape our planet and the importance of preserving these natural treasures for generations to come.


About the author

James Ranson

I’m an editor, traveler, and fan of the great outdoors. I’ve been to all 48 continental US states, and my drives through Colorado’s rugged peaks and snowy forests (not to mention whiskey tastings in Denver!) still stand out in my memories. I’m excited to use my ten years of editing experience to develop engaging and informative guides and articles that enhance the outdoor experiences of both Colorado residents and visitors. Whether a piece is about exploring the best ski resorts, uncovering scenic trails for hiking, or finding the most inspiring drives through the Colorado Rockies, my aim is to provide comprehensive and accessible content that encourages adventure and exploration.