Navajo Peak Overview
The following photo courtesy of CharlesD
The Indian Peak Wilderness is located just northwest of Boulder Colorado; it's really just an continuation of the existing beautiful mountains of Rocky Mountain National Park. Because of the Indian Peaks proximity to Denver and Boulder, and easy access, this area is probably the most frequently visited wilderness in Colorado. From easy walk-ups to technical 5.5 climbing this mountaineering playground offers something for everybody.
Navajo Peak (13,409 ft.) rests within the Brainard Lake Recreation area with other prominent peaks such as Apache Peak, Shashoni , Paiute, Toll, and Mount Audubon. This picturesque cone-shaped peak is the third highest mountain within the Indian Peak Wilderness boundary. It is a real mountain with a real class 3 rating, and is not for the novice hiker. The summit cone involves some interesting airy moves around its 30 to 40 ft. summit cliff on relatively solid rock.
There are two main trail systems in this area, the Mitchell Lake Trail and the Long Lake Trail, both are well maintained and deliver you to high and wild places. The Long Lake Trailhead (10,500 ft.) is the starting point for a Navajo, Apache, or a Shashoni climb.
The Apache/Navajo Peak Massif from the westApache Peak is the high point on the left and Navajo Peak is the cone-shaped Peak on the right.
Airplane crash on Navajo PeakThe aircraft went down on January 21, 1948. The aircraft was a Civil Aeronautics Administration C-47. The aircraft had left Stapleton Airport was en route to Grand Junction from Denver. The likely cause of the crash was a severe downdraft in bad weather.
On board were :
Following the crash, an imediate search of the area was posponed by bad weather. The winter of 1948 was harsh, preventing the Ski Patrol and the Rocky Mountain Rescue Unit from locating the plane on their initial three attempts due in large part to deep snow fall. At the time the CAA was offering a $1000 for any information leading to the crash site.
On May 24th, 1948, four months after the C-47 had been confirmed missing, the crash site was eventually located by an air search of the area. The Boulder Daily Camera reported that the aircraft hit a cliff, exploded, rebounded and slid down the mountain in a ball of fire leaving wreckage up and down the mountain. The bodies of the three on board were eventually removed from the airplane debris.
Most of the wreckage is spewn up high in "airplane gully" on Niwot Ridge at 12,900-ft. Some of the debri can also be found at the bottom of the gully as well. Viewing the wreckage requires a somewhat difficult scramble up a gully to get to it.
Because the crash site is a historical aviation archeology site, the wreckage must not be removed. Most of what's left are large pieces of insulation, aluminum chasis and engine parts.
Long Lake TH-Brainard LakeTo reach the Brainard Lake Road from the north follow Colorado 72 or the Peak to Peak Highway, south for 10.2 miles from the junction with highway 7. For the southern approach, go north 12 miles from Colorado 72 in Nederland to the town of Ward, the Brainard Lake Road is just north of here. Turn west on Brainard Lake Road and go 5 miles on paved road to Brainard Lake. Follow the Long Lake Trailhead signs another .5 mile to a large parking area. There is a $9.00 (2009) fee to enter this recreation area.
Here is a summery of the Indian Peak Wilderness Rules and Regulations.
CampingFor a list of every public campground on the Peak to Peak highway, click here
Current ConditionsClick image to enlarge
The Brainard Lake Recreation Area is closed from mid October to mid June every season. It is approximatly a 5 mile drive from the gate closure to the trailheads during this stretch of closure. Usually by early April the snow has melted off the paved road leading to the trailheads. You can easily ride a bike to the TH, many people do.
- The Ghosts of Airplane Gully
The Perils of High Altitude Flying
At 4:25 PM on January 21, 1948 a two-engine C-47 airplane owned by the Civil Aeronautics Authority set off from Denver’s Stapleton airport on a routine flight to Grand Junction, Colorado, to test aviation radio communication equipment. Carrying a three-man crew, the aircraft faded into the western gray sky headed for what was thought to be unsettled but passable weather....
- Apache Peak & Navajo Peak
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