Upcoming Trip: Crater Lake and West Needles

Backpacking and Climbing in the Weminuche Wilderness, Colorado

Photo: Crater Lake.
Crater Lake

I am planning a trek to Crater Lake in the Weminuche Wilderness in southwestern Colorado.

Please see the sidebar for detailed planning information including maps, GPS info, guide excerpts, etc.

You can see reports from some of my previous trips here .

Crater lake is a beautiful, glacially formed lake high in the West Needle Mountains, south of Silverton, CO. It is adjacent to the spectacular Animas River Gorge that is over 4000 feet deep. It lies near the peaks of the West Needle Mountains including Snowdon Peak, North Twilight Peak, Twilight Peak, South Twilight Peak, and West Needle Mountain.

Photo: Crater Lake.
View from the Top of North Twilight Peak

The Crater Lake Trail starts at Andrews Lake that is easily accessed just off Highway 550 that runs from Durango to Silverton. The trail is 5 miles long and ascends 1,700 feet.


Day 1

  • Drive from Amarillo to Purgatory Resort (8 h, 525 miles).
  • Stay at Purgatory Resort (elevation 8,950 feet).

Day 2

  • Check in with Buckhorn Llamas, organize gear, and pack panniers.
  • Free time in and around Durango.
  • Spend another night at Purgatory Resort to further acclimatize.

Day 3

  • Short drive to Andrews Lake (29 min, 15 miles).
  • Meet Buckhorn Llamas.
  • Hike to Crater Lake (4-5 h, 5 miles, ascent/descent 1,736/-866 feet).
  • Camp at Crater Lake.

Days 3, 4, and 5

  • Spend three nights at Crater Lake.
  • Fishing is reported to be good at the Lake
  • There are ample day hiking opportunities including possibly summiting some of the surrounding peaks.

Day 6

  • Hike down to Andrews Lake Trailhead (2-3 hours, ascent/descent 866/-1,736 feet).
  • Meet Buckhorn Llamas.
  • We should be out before noon so that driving to Amarillo on this day is feasible.