Wheeler Geological Area of the Rio Grande National Forest, Colorado

The Wheeler Geological Area is a hidden natural wonder in Colorado's Rio Grande National Forest.

It's filled with fantastical formations carved by wind and water out of thick ash deposited millions of years ago by a volcanic eruption. Named after Captain George Wheeler, an early explorer and surveyor, these badlands are something to behold.

The formations are in the La Garita Wilderness Area, located north of Creede, a tiny community on State Highway 149, 105 miles south of Gunnison in southwest Colorado. You'll need a four-wheel-drive vehicle, a horse or good hiking shoes to reach it.

From Creede, proceed southeast on Highway 149 for about 7 miles. Then take Pool Table Road 600 (it's gravel) northeast for roughly 10 miles to the remains of Hanson's Mill. From there, it's 14 miles to the geological area via a rough four-wheel-drive road.

Due to heavy snow, the area is only accessible from early June through late October. For details, call the Divide Ranger District at 1-719-658-2556.

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