Ryder Peaks

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Colorado, United States, North America
Hiking, Mountaineering, Scrambling
Summer, Fall
9805 ft / 2989 m
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Ryder Peaks
Created On: Jul 21, 2014
Last Edited On: Jul 21, 2014


The Ryder Peaks are a set of two conspicuous peaks located in the western section of the Rabbit Ears Range. The peaks (especially South Ryder) look interesting when viewed from around Chimney Rock. The peaks also afford some nice views of Chimney Rock and the surrounding peaks. There are also some nice views of the Rabbit Ears, and of the Mount Zirkel Wilderness, and especially of Mount Ethel.

The peaks are not high by Colorado standards. There is some scrambling on these peaks, but the major obstacle in mid-July was mosquitoes! There are no technical routes on either of the Ryder Peaks.

The Rabbit Ears Range is one of the lesser known ranges in north central Colorado and is not as well-known as the other nearby ranges such as the Park Range, Medicine Bow Range, Never Summer Range, Rocky Mountain National Park, the Indian Peaks and the Gore Range. Part of the reason why the Rabbit Ears Range is lesser known than many of the other ranges in the area is because overall it isn’t as high or quite as spectacular as those other ranges, however it is unusual for the area in that at least two of its mountains (Rabbit Ears Peak and Chimney Rock) require technical skills and gear via their easiest routes.

The Rabbit Ears Range divides the extensive valleys of North and Middle Park and extends from Rabbit Ears Peak on the west to Radial Mountain on the east. The range forms an east west bridge between the north to south tending Park Range on the west and the north to south Never Summer Range on the east.

The range is overall unusual in North America since it runs west to east rather than north to south, but interestingly some of other ranges in this region, the Williams Fork Mountains(west of Steamboat Springs) and the Elkhead Mountains also run west to east. The Rabbit Ears Range is almost entirely made of volcanic rocks. Many volcanic dikes and plugs are visible throughout the range (the best ones being around Radial Mountain) and several examples of columnar jointing can also be seen (such as on Whitley Peak and the Devils Post Pile on White Slide Mountain).

North Ryder PeakNorth Ryder Peak as seen from South Ryder.

Getting There

Because I came from another direction, I didn't get accurate odometer readings, but the quickest way to the trailhead for most is to drive SH 14 to a point about 9 miles east of Muddy Pass and the SH 14 and US 40 junction.

Turn south on FR 103 and follow it south for about 5.4 miles to a gated road on the west. This is FR 103.4A. Park here.

Approach RouteThe lower slopes of the approach route. This section is gentle, but there is no trail.

Routes Overview

Although the upper slopes of either of the Ryder Peaks are steep, there isn't that much to slow you down and they can be climbed from every direction.

South Ryder Peak

The easiest route up South Ryder Peak is from the Southeast Ridge which is reached from the saddle on FR 103.4A.

From the trailhead, follow FR 103.4A for about 1.2 miles to the saddle. From there, head northwest along the minor ridge to the summit. Along the way are aspen and pine tree covered slopes and you can bypass the rock false summit on either side. The top route is steep with some scrambling.

It's about 3.4 miles round trip to North Ryder and with 800 feet or so total elevation gain.

ScrambleThe scrambling route to South Ryder.

North Ryder Peak

North Ryder Peak can be easiest climbed from the minor east ridge and spurs. A possible route is marked on the map. The upper part of the route is steep and with some scrambling.

Peak Traverse

The traverse between the two peaks appears to be be rather trivial.

Ryder Peaks MapRed = Off Trail Routes.

Red Tape

None, other than FR 103.4 A is closed to vehicles.

When to Climb

The road to the peak opens sometime in June and closes sometime in October. This route had some of the worst mosquito infestations I have ever seen (July 12 2014), so it's probably best to avoid these peaks between mid-June and the end of July. August through early October should be the ideal time to climb these peaks.

In winter you could cross country ski in, but it would be a long trip.

In the fall, this is a very popular hunting area, and you may want to avoid hunting season. At the very least, wear blaze orange during the hunting season.

SummitSummit of South Ryder in mid-July. Kessler is smacking the mosquitoes off his head!


There are plenty of campsites along the approach roads. Make sure to camp on Forest Service Land.

Mountain Conditions


Below is the National Weather Service Climate Summary of Gore Pass Ranch located southwest of the Ryder Peaks. The data is from 1957-1963. This is the closest long term weather station, but be aware that higher elevations will be much wetter and colder, at least during the day time. Gore Pass Ranch is at 7610 feet elevation, so expect the daytime temperatures on the Ryder PEaks to be 5-10 degrees colder than in at the Gore Pass Ranch (the ranch will probably be as cool or cooler at night than the area around the Ryder Peaks).

FEB356 57-410.90

Ryder Peaks

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