Wheeler Geologic Area
This is one of the most remote and difficult-to-access locations on the entire birding trail. The geology of the area is so unique and the scenery so striking that it was declared Colorado’s first National Monument in 1908, but that status was revoked in 1950 due to the difficulty of visiting this place. To get here, you need either four-wheel-drive and high clearance or a mountain bike and a strong pair of legs. On your way there, you will pass through amazing spruce-fir habitat, with crossbills, Gray Jays, and Three-toed Woodpeckers. One lucky group found a Boreal Owl roosting in a tree here. This area is about as wild as it gets, and you could see any kind of wildlife, from elk and deer to lynx and moose.
Habitat: Spruce-Fir Forest, Mountain Meadow, Stream, Streamside Willow
Directions: From Creede go 7.3 miles southeast on CO 149 to Pool Table Road (FR 600, also known as Spring Gulch). Turn north and travel northeast approximately 10 miles. Regular two-wheel drive cars can handle this part of the road. At the remains of the old Hanson's Sawmill there is a trailhead and parking area. At this point you can hike (Trail 790) or continue driving on FS 600, which at this point requires low-range four-wheel drive and good tires. The road winds about 12 miles to the boundary fence of the Wheeler Geologic Area. Plan on 3 or 4 hours driving each way in good weather- the road is very rugged and the going is slow. If bad weather threatens head back out while you can -- there are vehicle-sized potholes that would present major problems if filled with water.
Delorme: 78 A3-B3
Roads of Colorado: 133 D1
Dates of Access: Summer only
Ownership: US Forest Service
Restrictions: Rough road; not all of which is accessible to passenger cars
Parking: Mostly roadside
Lodging: Primitive camping
Handicapped Access: Some viewing possible from 4WD vehicle.