Sunlight Peak and Windom Peak from Chicago Basin

Posted: September 22nd, 2022



On Monday, September 12th, 2022, I took the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad train from Durango to Needleton, Colorado. From Needleton, there is a 5.8 mile hike into Chicago Basin from which there are hikes to Sunlight Peak (14,065 feet) and Windom Peak (14,093 feet).

To get to Needleton requires a ticket Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad purchased well in advance. The ticket could only be purchased over the phone. There is a paid parking lot you can also pay for in advance next to the train station. The train departs Durango at 8:15AM and all bags must be on the train by 7:45AM. The train arrived in Needleton at 10:40AM.

Hiking from Needleton to the campsite in Chicago Basin I decided to take took about 3.5 hours with many breaks along the way. The elevation gained over the 5.8 mile hike along the way was about 3,000 feet.

On Tuesday, I started hiking at 5AM from the campsite towards Sunlight Peak. The hike up to the summit was 3 miles and had an elevation gain of 3,100 feet. It took 3 hours 45 minutes to get to the summit.

After summiting Sunlight Peak, I went to the neighboring Windom Peak which took an additional 2.5 hours. By this point it was 11:15AM and the weather started to turn. I made it back below treeline about 2.5 hours later as a rainstorm rolled in.

The plan on Wednesday was to wake up early again and attempt Mount Eolus however, the rain didn't stop from the previous day. I spent almost all of Wednesday in my tent, with few breaks in the rain.

On Thursday, I hiked back down to Needleton to get on the train which departed at 3:00PM for Durango. By this point the weather had improved and there were only a few brief rain showers.

Overall, getting to Chicago Basin was an interesting experience, requiring a train and long hike. The 14ers in this area are the most remote in the state of Colorado. The area is beautiful and there were enough campsites at this point in the season.

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