Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 37.62740°N / 107.64°W
Additional Information County: La Plata
Seasons Season: Summer
Additional Information Elevation: 13835 ft / 4217 m
Sign the Climber's Log

San Juan Range, Weminuche Wilderness & Needle Mountains Overview

The San Juan Range is arguably the finest mountain range in the state of Colorado.  The San Juans are the largest mountain range in the state and they dominate southwestern Colorado. In Colorado, the San Juans are second in snowfall only to the Park Range. The San Juan Range is home to 357 peaks above thirteen thousand feet.

The Weminuche Wilderness is located twenty miles northeast of Durango, Colorado in the San Juan Range and was first established in 1975 (1). At 492,418 acres, the Weminuche encompasses portions of both the San Juan and Rio Grande National Forests.  The Weminuche Wilderness is Colorado's largest wilderness area and is home to the beautiful Needle Mountains (1).

The Needle Mountains contain seven of the hundred highest peaks in the state (listed by decreasing elevation): Mount Eolus, Windom PeakSunlight Peak, Pigeon Peak, Turret Peak, Jupiter Mountain and Jagged Mountain.  The Needle Mountains extend south from the Grenadier Mountains at the Peak Seven-Peak Eight col and are bound by the Animas River to the west and the Vallecito Creek to the east.  See below for a list of the Needle Mountains above 13,000 feet and with at least 300 feet of interpolated prominence.  Summitpost links are provided when available.  When unavailable, Lists of John links are provided.

The Turret Needles.  Photo: Jack B
Peak NameRank
Prominence Quadrangle
Mount Eolus114083'2183'Columbine Pass
Windom Peak2
1022'Columbine Pass
Sunlight Peak314059'399'Storm King Peak
Pigeon Peak4
1152'Snowdon Peak
Turret Peak513835'735'Snowdon Peak
Jupiter Mountain6
370'Columbine Pass
Jagged Mountain713824'964'Storm King Peak
Animas Mountain8
1086'Snowdon Peak
Peak Six913705'685'Storm King Peak
Grizzly Peak1013700'440'Columbine Pass
Peak Fifteen1113700'320'Snowdon Peak
Monitor Peak1213695'315'Storm King Peak
Peak Seven13
422'Storm King Peak
Greylock Mountain1413575'555'Columbine Pass
Leviathan Peak1513528'400'Storm King Peak
Peak Eleven16
588'Storm King Peak
Vallecito Mountain17
568'Storm King Peak
Peak Four1813410'510'Storm King Peak
Aztec Mountain19
610'Columbine Pass
Peak Five2013283'303'Storm King Peak
Knife Point21
325'Storm King Peak
The Heisspitz2213262'362'Storm King Peak
Mount Valois23
325'Columbine Pass
Amherst Mountain24
1225'Columbine Pass
Peak Twelve25
320'Storm King Peak
Sheep Mountain26
370'Columbine Pass
Organ Mountain27
452'Columbine Pass

Turret Peak Overview & History

Turret Peak is the highest of three Turret Peaks in Colorado, the 89th highest peak in the state and less than a half mile southeast of Pigeon Peak. Turret Peak was named because of its interesting rock faces and turrets and is the highest of the Turret Needles: Turret Peak, Peak Fifteen, Peak Sixteen and Little Finger. Despite its rugged appearance, Turret's easiest route, the Northwest Slopes Route is only rated Class 2+.The summit provides a great view of Pigeon Peak's east face and the Grenadier Mountains to the north. Turret's north face can be seen from the US 550 and CO 110 intersection outside of Silverton, Colorado. Turret's west face can be seen from US 550 south of Durango Mountain Resort. Turret's first recorded ascent was done by Albert R. Ellingwood & Barton Hoag on August 17, 1920 (2). The route they chose is the Northwest Slopes Route and is now the standard route.

USGS Maps: Snowdon Peak & Mountain View Crest
Turret PeakTurret Peak from the west.

Trailhead Information

Needleton Trailhead

The Needleton Trailhead is located 13 miles south of Silverton at 8,212' along the Animas River and can only be approached by foot or train. See the Getting There section for train details.

Purgatory Trailhead

The Purgatory Trailhead is located along U.S. 550 south of Silverton & north of Durango at 8,800'. If driving from the south, start at 32nd Street and U.S. 500 in Durango and continue north along U.S. 550 for 24.7 miles to the trailhead. If you are driving from the north, continue south along U.S. 550 7.7 miles from Coal Creek Pass. The trailhead is on the east side of the road across from the ski area.

Getting There

Access to Turret Peak is via Needleton, Colorado. Needleton is most commonly reached by the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Roundtrip tickets cost $85 as of 2013. Avoiding the train requires an additional 1612 feet of elevation gain and 19 miles of hiking from the Purgatory Trailhead (3). Turret Peak's standard route is the Northwest Slopes Route and can be approached one of two ways, via North Pigeon Creek or Ruby Creek. Since the approach via North Pigeon Creek is easier, that is described in the Northwest Slopes Route Page. For information on the Ruby Creek approach, visit the Ruby Creek Trail page.

North Pigeon Creek Approach

7.6 miles, 5623' of elevation gain, Class 2+

Ruby Creek Approach

10.2 miles, 5823' of elevation gain, Class 2+
TurretTurret Peak and the Turret Needles.  Photo: iceisnice

Red Tape

Turret Peak is in the Weminuche Willderness; mechanized travel is forbidden.


There are good sites at the 11,740 & 8,260 foot meadows in North Pigeon Creek and on the Animas River Trail, respectively.

When to Climb

Turret Peak can be climbed year round, but is usually climbed from early May to late October when the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad typically stops at Needleton, Colorado.  The greatest objective danger in the fall-spring will be avalanche danger and during the summer will be lightning.  If climbing during the summer, plan to be off of the summit and or/exposed ridges by noon.


Map of the Standard Northwest Slopes Route from Needleton.  Click to enlarge.

External Links

Guided Ascents of Turret Peak



Children refers to the set of objects that logically fall under a given object. For example, the Aconcagua mountain page is a child of the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits.' The Aconcagua mountain itself has many routes, photos, and trip reports as children.



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.

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