Sneffels Range: Colorado's 25th Highest Mountain
Sneffels Range: Colorado's 25th Highest Mountain

While not identified by the Board of Geographic Names, the Mount Sneffels massif and its satellite peaks as viewed from highways 62 and 145 are often referred to locally and abroad as the “Sneffels Range”. For objective purposes, the scope of the range has been defined here using key saddles as the criteria to determine range boundaries. Thus, the range is here defined as the continuous area higher than and west of Red Mountain Pass (Mount Sneffels’ saddle) and north of Ophir Pass (Vermilion Peak’s saddle).

Mount Sneffels at 14,150′ is 27th highest in the state, is the highest peak in Ouray County. Mount Sneffels is also the parent peak of San Juan County’s highest, Vermilion Peak 13,894′, to the south. Three of Colorado’s highest 100 ranked peaks are included in this range, two of them being technical (easy 5th class). The range is host to 37 ranked 13ers (peaks with at least 300′ rise), with a select few “easy” hikes. The opportunities for scrambling and hiking in the area are exceptional and views on clear days are always top-notch. Due to its composition, most of the rock in the area is very rotten and many approaches involve extremely loose scree traverses (approaches to Mears Peak and Teakettle Mountain among the worst).

The rock is often very colorful and the high mineral content also influences the color of the lakes in the area, such as the famous Blue Lakes. The northern flank of the range on the west side of Mount Sneffels contains several peaks named with the prefix “S ” followed by an ascending number from southeast to northwest, ending with “S 10”. The “S” represents an abbreviation for “Sneffels”. Similarly, peaks flanking the east side Telluride have a prefix “T “, starting with “T 0” and ending with “T 11” going north to south, where the “T” represents an abbreviation for “Telluride”.

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