Bio: I'm living the life in the central mountains of Colorado, part of the great southern Rocky Mountains that form the great divide between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. I thoroughly love travel and exploration, especially when the natural world is involved.

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  1. I really enjoy your trip blogs. From your experience, what is the best map to use when hiking in the West Elk Wilderness? I am planning on backpacking in the Soap Creek and Baldy’s area. Are the government topo maps up to date on the trail locations? Are NatGeo Trails Illustrated the way to go? I welcome your advice.

    • Hi Chris, thank you for your comment. Regarding maps… I find that both the topo maps (7.5) series and the NatGeo TI have errors. The Nat Geo TI in the West Elk Wilderness are prone to a few discrepancies between what is on the ground and what is shone on the map. However, that being said, I generally carry the TI for convenience. They are waterproof and cover a lot of ground. The topographic maps are great if you plan on hiking off trail and want to get into the nooks of the mountains. I have studied both the United States Geologic Survey’s topographic 7.5 minute maps for this area, plus the National Geographic Trails Illustrated. I also consult the Gunnison National Forest maps, published in conjunction with the Bureau of Land Management – it is called the Gunnison Basin Public Lands map. This allows you to see what the Forest Service considers to be on the ground. But, to be concise, I always carry National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map 134 (Black Mesa, Currecanti Pass) for the area you describe. I hope this helps!

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