Chicago Basin 14'er Backpacking Adventure

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Durango, Colorado
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Mountain Climbing

This trip takes intrepid adventures to the Chicago Basin, located deep in the Weminuche Wilderness of the San Juan National Forest. The basin sits amidst 8 peaks over 13,000 feet and 4 peaks over 14,000 feet. After a 2-hour ride on the narrow gauge Durango to Silverton train, we hike 7 miles along Needle creek to get to the basin. This is our "base camp" from which we climb as many of the surrounding peaks as we have the energy to summit! The San Juan mountains are quite rugged and the 14'ers in this area are challenging! If a remote climbing and backpacking adventure with train rides sounds like fun, then this trip is for you!


Custom dates available

Airbnb or double occupancy hotel in Durango area

Double occupancy tent while in the backcountry.



Day 1: Travel to Durango. Colorado in the fall is an amazing time of year, as the aspens and other fall foliage are stunningly beautiful.  Once we arrive in Durango, we will check into our hotel, prepare our gear, have dinner, and get a good night's sleep in preparation for the train and approach hike the next day.  

Day 2: Train and Hike to Chicago Basin.  We will check out of the hotel, have breakfast and make our way to the train station in downtown Durango.  We will travel in an open car aboard the historic Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.  This wonderfully scenic train ride will take us 30 miles and 2.5 hours to the trailhead for our 6.5-mile hike to our base camp in Chicago Basin.  The hike gains 2,800 feet and we will set up camp (elevation 11,000 feet) at the base of four fourteen-thousand-foot peaks. After a hearty dinner, we will have a long sleep and rest up before our climbing days.  

Days 3 & 4:Climbing Days.  We will have 2 full days to explore the area. The 14ers available for us to climb are Windom Peak (14,082’), Mt. Eolus(14,083’), Eolus North (14,039’) and Sunlight Peak (14,059’). There are also eight 13ers that offer amazing climbs, the most accessible of which is Jupiter Mountain (13,830') Crystal-clear mountain lakes, flowery meadows, abandoned mines, and amazing sunsets and sunrises will round out our exploration of this remote part of the San Juan mountains.  

Day 5: Hike out and train to Durango.  After a hearty breakfast and a short morning hike, we will pack up camp and hike the 6.5 miles back to the trailhead where we will board the train for the ride back to Durango.  After checking into our hotel, we will have a celebratory dinner and sleep in nice comfortable beds for a restful night.

Day 6: Travel home. After a well-deserved sleep-in, we will enjoy a warm breakfast, pack up and coordinate our departure from Durango.

Durango airport pick-up and drop-off

2-nights lodging in Durango on either end of the trip

Tents and communal camping gear--pots, stoves, fuel, water filtration, etc

Meals while backpacking

Permit fees

Professional guide services for a 6-day trip

Airfare to Durango

Meals in Durango

Tip for guide (10-20% of trip cost)