Colorado Field Institute 2017 Summer Field Trips

Wheeler Geologic Area & Fall BBQ

Saturday, October 14, 2017 

The Wheeler Geologic Area is a highly eroded outcropping of layers of volcanic ash. This area was formed by eruptions from the La Garita Caldera, which created the San Juan Mountains, approximately 25 million years ago. This fascinating site is the result of weathering of the soft ash, which has produced a unique and scenic landscape, significant enough to be identified as Colorado’s first National Monument in 1908. Through the years, however, the monument was not developed because of the isolation and remoteness of the site. In 1950, the site lost its status as a National Monument. The site is named after Captain George M. Wheeler, who explored and surveyed this area in 1874, as part of a U.S. Army expedition.

The Colorado Field Institute (CFI) will be leading a field trip to explore Wheeler Geologic Area on Saturday, October 14. The field trip will not include a lecturer, but instead will focus on sight-seeing of this unique corner of the San Luis Valley. The Wheeler Geologic Area is part of the La Garita Wilderness, therefore, the group size must be limited to 15 participants. The site lies just below the crest of the range at an elevation of 11,960 feet, and can be reached by a 7-mile hike on the East Bellows Trail, or by a challenging 14 mile four-wheel drive road.

The trip will meet at the South Fork Visitor Center at 9 a.m. If you do not have a four-wheel drive, there should be opportunity to ride with other field trip participants. A BBQ lunch will be provided by CFI. The trip will require more than a mile of hiking on a mountain trail at relatively high altitude, and the weather may be a factor – be prepared.

Travel into the Wheeler area will be contingent on weather and road conditions.

This trip is limited to CFI members. If you have not purchased a 2017 CFI membership, please go to Then follow the trip registration link below. Hope you can join us!

To register for for the Wheeler Geologic Area Creek Field Trip go to

The Colorado Field Institute is a nonprofit corporation organized in 2005 to promote greater stewardship of the natural and cultural resources within the San Luis Valley. For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.