Horsemen, hikers, backpackers, birdwatchers, artists & photographers can enjoy volunteering for Wilderness. Some volunteers ride the train and greet visitors arriving in Needle Creek. They provide trail information, wilderness education, and Leave No Trace ethics. Others horseback ride, hike or backpack trails in the Weminuche, Lizard Head or South San Juan Wilderness areas. All volunteers are goodwill ambassadors for Wilderness. Minimum requirement is 3 days per season and a willingness to learn. Volunteers are provided with a uniform, name tag and training. Volunteers must be healthy enough to be at higher elevations. Some hiking and Leave No Trace experience is helpful.
Ghost Riders are mounted volunteers with the same mission. Horsemen must provide their own well trained stock and be accomplished backcountry horsepersons.
Chicago Basin/Needle Creek Volunteers
Backpacking volunteers can volunteer for a week in Chicago Basin, located in the Weminuche Wilderness, north of Durango. Volunteers will ride the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Train (D&SNG) and spend 5 days and 4 nights in the Basin, talking with other visitors about Leave No Trace and other pertinent trail information. SJMA is offering an on-line training to volunteers who would like to come and enjoy the mountains and “give back” something in return. The D&SNG provides free tickets to the volunteers. The program begins in mid-June and ends in late August. You must have backpacking experience and knowledge of Leave No Trace ethics. Some informational training is available.*
Sample Itinerary for Chicago Basin
Day 1 Ride train from Durango to Needle Creek and hike to Chicago Basin
Day 2 Hike throughout the basin and up to Columbine Pass
Day 3 Patrol basin checking campsites, talking to visitors
Day 4 Hike up to Twin Lakes Basin
Day 5 Hike back to Needle Creek and ride train back to Durango
*Volunteers must be healthy enough to hike and back pack at high elevations. Minimum hiking distance to enter Chicago Basin is 6 miles and a 3000 ft. elevation gain.
Contact Kathe Hayes to find out about the training and how to apply.