8,130 acres (12.7 square miles)
This unit sits on the west side of the Continental Divide, specifically between Loveland Pass and Eisenhower Tunnel and is the southern approach to the only land bridge across Interstate 70. It covers an arm of the Divide that separates the North Fork of the Snake River from Straight Creek. This arm is a rolling alpine tundra-covered ridge with slopes that drop steeply on the north and south sides.
The subalpine portions of this proposed Wilderness are forested in Engelmann spruce/subalpine fir and dense stands of lodgepole pine. There are riparian plant communities along the creeks at the borders of this unit as well.
What’s special about it
Secure core habitat: The proposed Porcupine Gulch Wilderness Area has limited access, no maintained trails, little recreational visitation, and is relatively undisturbed.
Heritage preservation: The area has a high opportunity for solitude in a scenic alpine environment. This unit contains part of the Colorado Natural Heritage Program’s proposed Porcupine Research Natural Area which contains many species of rare plants.
Ecology: Tenderfoot Mountain, west of the proposed Wilderness Area is critical winter range for big game, which move into the roadless area for summer. This unit is particularly critical as a lynx and boreal toad movement corridor because the Eisenhower Tunnel of I-70 is on its north side.
Wildlife migration: This area connects to the only land bridge across I-70 where wildlife may move freely across this very imposing wildlife movement barrier without fear of collision. Such connections must be kept ecologically whole so not to sever access to this singular crossing.
Motor recreation: Winter motorized recreation could significantly disrupt the winter habitat and connectivity values.
In response to request from municipal water supply operators, the boundary for this area has been significantly revised to accommodate continued management of the watershed.
The Porcupine Gulch area was previously known as the Tenderfoot Mountain area; the Hidden Gems Campaign changed the name in 2009.
How to get there
The proposed Porcupine Gulch Wilderness Area is located 3 miles east of Dillon. Approach this area via State Highway (SH) 6 between Dillon and Loveland Pass.
- To reach this proposed Wilderness Area, take SH 6 east from Dillon. Across the road from Keystone Ski Area, the Frey Gulch Road (FS 66) provides access to the area southwest of the unit, and leads to the top of Tenderfoot Mountain. However, there are no maintained trails within the interior of this proposed Wilderness. For the best overview of the area, hike west along the Continental Divide from Loveland Pass. There is no public access to the area from I-70.
- The USGS 7 1⁄2' quads for the proposed Porcupine Gulch Wilderness Area are Montezuma, Grays Peak, Keystone, Loveland Pass, Frisco, and Dillon.