Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 37.98004°N / 105.60662°W
Additional Information County: Saguache
Activities Activities: Hiking, Mountaineering, Scrambling, Skiing
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Elevation: 14080 ft / 4292 m
Sign the Climber's Log


Kit Carson (14,165) is the main mountain which includes Challenger Point (14,080)

These mountains offer routes of various levels of difficulty. The most popular ascent is via Willow Creek Trail - Willow Lake (go around to the north - easier) - up the north gulley of Challenger - Summit of Challenger - Saddle between - follow the ramp around the peak and ascend from the south side.

This route begins on the Crestone side at 8,500 feet +/- and ascends steeply on well-groomed trails. (about 5,700 feet of vertical change from trailhead to Challenger Point summit). I am not sure of the exact round trip mileage, but it can be done in a day, no camping, in about 14 hours + / -

The climb from the east base of Challenger is steep, but more or less a walk-up.

From Challenger to Kit Carson there is a ramp big enough to drive an 18-wheeler in the summer (without snow). Follow this ramp to a point that seems too far ? down and down, and then, before it ends, turn left (east) and head up to the summit. Some handholds may be necessary.

Getting There

HWY 17 to Moffat, CR T to Crestone, take a right at The Main Intersection downtown and follow uphill to the trailhead parking lot. Very soon after setting onto the trail (and just before the sign-in station) the trails diverge. Go straight on for South Crestone Lake, to the north, or, cross over the creek (to the south) to get onto the Willow Lake trail. The creek you start along comes from South Crestone Lake.

As you enter the trees on the Willow trail, note the small memorial to Emil, a small stick cross on the left. Emil, apparently, made a wrong turn coming down from Kit Carson / Challenger and fell from the cliffs visible in the photo above. You can see the cliffs just to the left (south) of the gulley on the back of Challenger.

Red Tape

The mountain was privately owned until the recent transfer to the government. The Great Sand Dunes National Monument is now National Park and with that change in ownership there may be change in regulations.

********************** From the Saguache County Board of County Commissioners: On Friday, April 20, 2007 it was agreed that the County, Forest Service, Park Service, NAT, spiritual centers and Manitou Institute will collaborate to post signage to discourage hikers from trespassing through private property to access Forest Service land East of the Baca.

Thus as of 4/20/2007, posted Forest Service trailheads make for the only legal access.

Even representatives of the CO Mountain Club are going to help get the trespass access points removed from climber websites they have connections with. **********************


When To Climb

May to October. You can expect snow in many places on the ground or in the air through June or July. For the most part July and August are the dry, snowless months.


Excellent camping is allowed just beneath Willow Lake. There are many well-established areas in flat grassy areas and near to water. Camping is prohibited within 300 feet of the lake.

Mountain Conditions

As of Memorial Day 2008: Winter Conditions still exist on route to summit.




External Links

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

Viewing: 1-4 of 4

ClydeLovett - Feb 28, 2004 12:55 am - Hasn't voted

Untitled Comment

One of those previously unnamed peaks has been named Columbia.


jstanley - Jun 6, 2003 10:01 am - Hasn't voted

Untitled Comment

In June 2002 my son Peter (then 15) and I climbed Challenger Pt. and Kit Carson from Willow Creek. I just want to add that we, following the directions in Garratt & Martins Colorado's High Thirteeners*, followed the rib of rock on the left (east) side of the gash or gully up Challenger Pk. from the valley above Willow Lake. The rock is solid and good to climb on and not perhaps as steep as it looks.

Another comment. The ledge or ramp you follow from the Kit Carson notch around Kit Carson to climb that peak, is big, but is not so big as to be always obvious on the way back when you are looking up from below. We actually missed it and ended up contouring arond the mountain lower down before climbing back up to the crest of Challenger near the top of the gash. So this is just a suggestion to look back occasionally if you are following the ramp to be sure you will recognize it on the way back, if you climb Kit Carson from the Willow Creek side.

* This book also briefly describes climbing Kit Carson by going over (or nearly over) the 13799 ft and 13980 ft unnamed summits from the eastern, South Colony Lakes side.


ClydeLovett - Feb 28, 2004 12:55 am - Hasn't voted

Untitled Comment

One of those previously unnamed peaks has been named Columbia.

Alan Ellis

Alan Ellis - Jul 26, 2004 4:54 pm - Voted 10/10

Untitled Comment

North Crestone Creek Campground is a Forest Service campground located 1 mile north of the little town of Crestone and only 3 miles from the trailhead. There are 13 undeveloped sites for $9.00/night. To get there, drive into the town of Crestone on the main road. At the 21st Amendment Liquor Store intersection, go straight on a paved road for 1 mile to the campground.

Viewing: 1-4 of 4



Parents refers to a larger category under which an object falls. For example, theAconcagua mountain page has the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits' asparents and is a parent itself to many routes, photos, and Trip Reports.

Colorado 14ersMountains & Rocks
Contiguous US 14ersMountains & Rocks
Contiguous US Highest 150Mountains & Rocks