Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 38.01880°N / 107.5634°W
Additional Information County: Ouray
Activities Activities: Hiking, Mountaineering, Scrambling
Seasons Season: Summer, Fall
Additional Information Elevation: 12968 ft / 3953 m
Sign the Climber's Log


Dragon's BackDragon's Back

Dragons Back Dragons Back
Dragon's Back is a beautiful semi-technical peak located in the Uncompahgre Wilderness of San Juan Mountain range. The peak is not often climbed and appears nearly inaccessible, but with careful navigation you can find a class 4 to its summit. Scrambling is exposed, but not technically too challenging. 

I would recommend to combine it with nearby 13ers: Wildhorse Peak and Blackwall Mountain.

The name is an not official - you will find it under Peak 12,968 feet
Colorado Rank: 656 (just a few feet shy of being a 13er).
Parent Lineage: Line Parent: Wildhorse Peak Proximate Parent: Blackwall Mountain
Class: 4
Wilderness: Uncompahgre
Closest Peaks: Wildhorse Peak 13,266 feet
                      Blackwall Mountain 13,073 feet

How To Get There

Alpine Loop Road Alpine Loop Road
The easiest way to reach Dragon's Back is from Engineer Pass Rd. Engineer Pass Rd is 4 wheel drive road connecting historical towns of Silverton, Ouray and Lake City. The road is open only from June to early fall (about October, or when the first big storm snow hits). The Engineer Pass is a high pass at 12,800 feet and the trail to treach Dragon's back starts at the Lake City's side of the pass. The road is rough and popular with ATVs and jeeps. Expect a lot of traffic during the peak summer months of July and August. 

The trail combined with Cinnamon Pass constitutes the famous Alpine Loop. 

Information about Engineer Pass Road: 

There is a lot of information about driving Engineer Pass road on the web. My own observation: the roughest section of the road is if one drives from Ouray. The road from Silverton to Animas Forks is pretty good and then the section from Animas Forks to the summit of Engineer Pass has some really rough spots: you will NOT be able to make it without a high clearance vehicle with 4 WD. The easiest driving is from Lake City. The whole drive is super scenic with incredible views. 


Dragons Back scramble Dragons Back scramble
Dragons Back Dragons Back
The hike is not too long and passed below Darley Mountain (easier to climb this one from the opposite (west) side and heads towards 13er Wildhorse Peak. There are often sheep along this hike. 
The hike is not too long, about 8.7 miles round trip. 
I believe there are always different options to reach the summit. I knew from my previous explorations that it is better to start past the lake and ascend an obvious weakness in the lower cliff. There are a couple different options how to scramble higher up and gradually reach the main ridge. I found scrambling here pleasant and not too hard, but it is exposed. The rock is loose, so double/tripple check each hold. There was a sling to rappel off near the summit, which I don't think is needed. 
The summit is incredible, great views. There was a small cairn and plastic bottle summit register. The bottle was cracked the log was hard to read. 

 Red Tape

Hiking, driving the Scenic Alpine Loop and scrambling are free. 
The peak is located within Uncompahgre Wilderness, so wilderness rules apply. 
Wilderness Rules:
-- Group size is limited to no more than 15 people. -- Camping is prohibited within 100 feet of any lake, stream, or trail. -- Campfires are prohibited at the following locations: 1. within 100 feet of any lake, stream, or trail 2. above treeline -- Caching equipment, personal property, or supplies for longer than 7 days is prohibited. -- Dogs must be under direct verbal control or leashed at all times. -- Do not cut switchbacks. -- Collecting or capturing butterflies is prohibited between June 1 and August 30 each year.


There is a plenty of camping opportunities along the Alpine Loop. I have slept in my car on the summit of Engineer Pass a few times. If you descent on either site you can find many places for car camping, some by the stream, some by little lakes. Developed campground are close to towns: Silverton, Ouray and Lake City. 

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