Centennial Program Visioning Process

Creating Sustainable Recreation Opportunities Across Colorado's Iconic 14ers

Colorado's majestic 14,000-foot-peaks ("14ers") are iconic, popular sentinels. While they are extremely popular recreation sites, Colorado's 14ers represent more than recreational "peak bagging." The mountains also hold generations of historical and cultural significance—residents and visitors alike dream of seeing or experiencing 14ers.

The landscapes that 14ers create are unparalleled and attract visitors worldwide to Colorado, contributing to small Colorado communities' economic viability and inspiring stories that span generations. Colorado communities like Salida, Buena Vista, Leadville, Alma, Lake City, Estes Park, and Breckenridge are connected in many ways to the 14ers surrounding them. The peaks provide views, nature, inspiration, exercise, solace, water, and wildlife.

Colorado is unique in many ways – and 14ers are one of the most unique resources in the state. Colorado has more high peaks above 14,000 feet than any other state. People choose Colorado to live, work, and visit in large part because of themountains, and 14ers stand above Colorado’s vast mountainous landscape. Regardless of whether someone is in Douglas County with a distant view of Pikes Peak on a clear day, or in Ouray County with Mt. Sneffles abutting communities and ranchlands, mountains are part of Colorado – now and into the future.

This process is made possible by support from Great Outdoors Colorado, which was awarded to the NFF and Chaffee County in 2022.

The Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Centennial Program visioning process will enable Colorado’s outdoor recreation organizations, government entities, tribal nations, and communities to create a vision to care for these treasured resources and to honor and support equitable access. The NFF, Chaffee County – home to 1/5 of Colorado’s 14ers – and 20+ partners will incorporate the many values associated with 14ers into a three-part vision to create sustainable recreation opportunities across Colorado’s 14ers.

The visioning phase will build on several prioritization exercises over the past five years. In 2017, the NFF launched “Find Your Fourteener” in collaboration with the Forest Service and outdoor stewardship organizations across the state to increase the pace and scale of stewardship and restoration atop a limited number of prioritized peaks. Importantly, the vision must approach 14ers as multi-faceted recreation sites with different resource needs related to visitor use.

We view sustainable recreation as the provision of desirable outdoor opportunities for all people in a way that supports ecosystems, contributes to healthy communities, promotes equitable economies, respects cultures and traditions, and develops stewardship values now and for future generations. With this view in mind, we will strive to be as inclusive and equitable as possible. As part of the visioning process, we will learn from people and communities that have been historically underrepresented in the 14ers stewardship and recreation community. Similarly, our goal will be to look to GOCO’s equity principles to guide our approach, particularly the community-centered approach.

Visioning a statewide approach to meet sustainability, resource protection, and outdoor recreation goals will require a unified, coordinated – and ambitious – approach that will help prepare for implementation. Getting there could be tough, and our eyes are wide open.

The NFF is kicking off this process in partnership with Chaffee County and Envision Chaffee Country. Civic Canopy is facilitating the visioning process.

Core Team: Coming soon!

Upcoming Meetings and Milestones: Coming soon!

For more information, please contact

Emily Olsen, Rocky Mountain Region Director, at eolsen@nationalforests.org

Jeny Davis, Southern Rockies Program Associate, at jdavis@nationalforests.org

Jennifer Fenwick, Central Colorado Projects Senior Associate, at jfenwick@nationalforests.org