Cirque Mountain - 13 Things to Know Before Visiting


1 Day Treks

Mountain Peaks

About Cirque Mountain

Cirque Mountain is a spectacular sight in Ouray County, Colorado. It's highest peak, promise Peak, soars to 12,795 feet and offers amazing views of the San Juan Mountains. The mountain is home to a variety of wildlife, including bighorn sheep and elk. There are also a number of hiking trails that wind through the area, making it the perfect place to explore the great outdoors. Whether you're looking for a challenging hike or a scenic vista, Cirque Mountain is sure to impress.

Things to Do at Cirque Mountain

For those looking for a challenge, there are several hiking trails that wind their way through the area. The more adventurous can even venture off-trail and explore the rugged terrain. For those who prefer to stay closer to civilization, Ouray County also offers several museums and historic sites. And of course, no visit to Ouray County would be complete without taking a dip in one of the many hot springs that dot the landscape. No matter what your interests are, Cirque Mountain has something to offer everyone.

Activities Around

History of Cirque Mountain

The peak of the mountain is 12,951 feet (3,950 m) above sea level. Cirque Mountain was named by the United States Geological Survey in 1904. The name "Cirque" comes from the French word for "circle". Cirque Mountain is located in the San Juan Mountains. The mountain is part of the Uncompahgre Wilderness Area. Cirque Mountain is located about 10 miles (16 km) north of the town of Ouray, Colorado. There are several hiking trails in the area. The most popular route to the summit of Cirque Mountain is via the Bear Creek Trail. The Bear Creek Trailhead is located just outside of Ouray. The trail climbs up Bear Creek Canyon and then crosses over into Chicago Basin. From there, it climbs up to the summit of Cirque Mountain. The total round trip length for this hike is about 21 miles (34 km).

Best Time to Visit Cirque Mountain

There's no bad time to visit Cirque Mountain in Ouray County, Colorado. Springtime brings warmer temperatures and melting snow, making it ideal for hiking and camping. Summer is perfect for fishing, mountain biking, and wildlife watching. Fall brings cooler temperatures and stunning foliage, while winter transforms the landscape into a winter wonderland perfect for skiing and snowshoeing. 

Tips for Visiting Cirque Mountain

  1. Arrive early. Cirque Mountain is a popular destination, so arrive early to get a parking spot and avoid the crowds. 
  2. Bring plenty of water. Hiking at high altitudes can be strenuous, so make sure to stay hydrated. 
  3. Explore off the beaten path. While the scenic vistas are certainly worth seeing, don't forget to explore some of the lesser-known trails as well.
  4. Keep an eye on the weather forecast. thunderstorms are common in the summer months, so be sure to check the forecast before heading out on any hikes. 
  5. Visit during the winter to experience some of the best skiing in the country.
  6. For a truly unique experience, go on a jeep tour through one of the many off-road trails in the area.

Interesting Facts and Trivias About Cirque Mountain

  1. The mountain was named after the French word for circus or ring.
  2. The mountain is part of theUncompahgre Wilderness Area.
  3. The area around Cirque Mountain is home to an abundance of wildlife, including elk, deer, bighorn sheep, and bears.
  4. Cirque Mountain is one of the many peaks that make up the San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway, a 233-mile (375-kilometer) loop through southwest Colorado.
  5. The mountain is home to a number of glacial features, including moraines, cirques, and tarns.
  6. The mountain is also home to a rare plant species known as the Ouray larkspur (Delphinium ourayense).
  7.  In 2017, Cirque Mountain was designated as a National Natural Landmark by the Department of the Interior.

How Much Time Did Visitors Spend at Cirque Mountain

The hike to the summit of Cirque Mountain is a challenging one, but it can be completed in a few hours if you are fit and experienced. However, if you want to explore the area more thoroughly, allow for a full day. 

How to Reach Cirque Mountain

The easiest way is to take Highway 550 north from Ouray. This scenic highway will take you right to the base of the mountain. From there, you can either hike or drive your way to the top. 

Entrance Fee of Cirque Mountain

The entrance fee is $5 per person, and this helps to cover the costs of maintaining the trails and providing amenities for hikers.


Opening Hours of Cirque Mountain

The Cirque Mountain area is open year-round and the time may vary depending on the seasons. 

Attractions Near Cirque Mountain

Teakettle Mountain

Teakettle Mountain

0.94km from Cirque Mountain

Teakettle Mountain is one of the most popular hiking destinations in Ouray County. The trailhead is located just outside the town of Ouray, and the hike to the summit is a moderate 4 miles. Along the way, hikers are treated to stunning views of the surrounding mountains, as well as some of the area's unique wildlife. Teakettle Mountain is also home to a large number of wildflowers, and in early summer, the trail is lined with blooming cactus.

Yankee Boy Basin

Yankee Boy Basin

1km from Cirque Mountain

Yankee Boy Basin is a true hidden gem. Surrounded by towering peaks, the basin is home to a number of alpine lakes, waterfalls, and trickling streams. In addition to its natural beauty, Yankee Boy Basin is also known for its vibrant wildflower displays. From late July through August, the basin comes alive with color as a variety of blooms come into bloom. Hiking and camping are popular activities in the basin, and there are a number of trails to explore.

Mount Sneffels

Mount Sneffels

1.8km from Cirque Mountain

Mount Sneffels is a popular mountain peak in Ouray County, Colorado. The peak is named after the SNF power plant in nearby Ridgway, Colorado. Mount Sneffels is known for its dramatic views, particularly of the San Juans. The summit can be reached via a challenging hike or an easier scramble. There are also several technical routes up the peak for experienced climbers. Mount Sneffels is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, and it's easy to see why.

Potosi Peak

Potosi Peak

2.5km from Cirque Mountain

Potosi Peak is a popular destination for hikers and climbers in Ouray County, Colorado. The peak is located in the San Juan Mountains, just north of the town of Ouray. The trail to the summit of Potosi Peak begins at the Ouray Trailhead and winds its way up through a variety of terrain, including forests, meadows, and rocky areas. The hike to the summit is a strenuous one, but it is rewarded with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.

Gilpin Peak

Gilpin Peak

2.68km from Cirque Mountain

Gilpin Peak is one of the many Colorado mountain peaks that provides stunning views of the surroundings. The peak is located in Ouray County and has an elevation of 14,028 feet. The best time to summit Gilpin Peak is from late June to early September when the snow has melted and the weather is stable. To reach the summit, hikers can take the East Ridge trail which starts at the South Mineral Campground. The hike is approximately eight miles round trip and provides a moderate level of difficulty

Governor Basin

Governor Basin

3.43km from Cirque Mountain

Governor Basin is a scenic valley located in Ouray County. Surrounded by towering peaks, the basin is home to a variety of wildlife, including elk, deer, bighorn sheep, and eagles. Fishing and camping are popular activities in the area, and the Governor Basin Trailhead provides access to a network of hiking trails. In winter, the basin is a popular destination for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Governor Basin is also home to several hot springs, which are open to the public year-round.

Discover More Attractions in Ouray County, Home of Cirque Mountain

Ouray County

Ouray County

31 attractions

Ouray County is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts, offering something for everyone regardless of their preferred activity. In the winter, skiers and snowboarders flock to the county's slopes, while in the summer months hikers and climbers take to the mountains. There are also ample opportunities for jeeping, fishing, horseback riding, and more.

Location of Cirque Mountain