Chicago Basin is a small part of the 487,912-acre Weminuche Wilderness within the San Juan National Forest. Owing to its easy access via the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, its proximity to three of Colorado’s 14-ers, and its scenic beauty, Chicago Basin is a very popular backpacker destination in the Weminuche Wilderness. During its peak period of use (July 4th through Labor Day), Chicago Basin is “crowded” by wilderness standards, and campsites can be hard to find. If you are planning a trip to the Chicago Basin area during this time, you will have to share your wilderness experience with quite a few other people.
Because Chicago Basin is a heavy use area, the USDA Forest Service has instituted certain special regulations and recommended practices to help protect the area. These are in addition to the overall Weminuche Wilderness and Forest Wide Regulations. By following the Wilderness regulations and practicing Leave No Trace Principles, the Chicago Basin area may not need more restrictive regulations in future years. Backpackers as a group are known to be among the most compliant public land users. We commend you and count on you to help inform other users of the importance of minimizing impacts.