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Want to visit Quandary Peak? Pilot program with paid reservations, free shuttle starts July 30

Crowded parking lot at base of Quandary Peak
Posted at 12:43 PM, Jul 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-23 16:56:12-04

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. — Starting on July 30, all visitors to a popular 14,000-plus-foot peak in Summit County and its trailhead will need to either reserve parking online or use a free shuttle.

The county will start the Quandary Peak Shuttle & Parking pilot program this summer to address safety issues related to limited parking and access at the trailhead for the 14,265-foot mountain. The program was started through a partnership between Summit County, the U.S. Forest Service, Towns of Blue River and Breckenridge, and Colorado Springs Utilities.

These new rules also apply to the McCullough Gulch trailhead, which shares the same parking area as Quandary visitors.

In past years, Quandary Peak's visitation numbers have grown, leading to a parking lot that's often full early. Drivers who arrive to a full parking lot have resorted to illegally parking on county roads and in neighbors' lawns, county officials said. This parking challenge has endangered hikers on the roads and creates challenges for emergency vehicles trying to access the trailhead.

READ MORE: Stories behind the summits: The history, origin behind the name of every Colorado 14er

In 2020, visitation to Quandary Peak surpassed Mount Bierstadt as the most-climbed Colorado 14er. An estimated 45,000 to 50,000 people visited the mountain last year. The combo of a Class 1 standard route and drive time under two hours from Denver means the mountain is almost always crowded during the summer, especially on the weekends.

The nearby McCullough Gulch Trail runs parallel to the route up Quandary, just to the north. Visitors headed to this trail will need to reserve parking at the Quandary Peak Trailhead or take a shuttle to the parking lot, and then ride an on-site shuttle from there to the McCullough Gulch trailhead. Ten spaces in the Quandary Peak parking lot are designated for short-term use for the McCullough Gulch Trail.

So, how does the Quandary Peak Shuttle & Parking pilot program work?

The program officially begins Friday, July 30.

To make a parking reservation, visit The site will go live July 26.

Visitors can reserve a spot up to two weeks in advance for the following times and fees for the Quandary Peak trailhead:

  • Half day: 4-11:30 a.m. ($20)
  • Half day: Noon-7:30 p.m. ($20)
  • Full day: 4 a.m.-7:30 p.m. ($50)

For McCullough Gulch, three-hour shifts will start at 4 a.m. for $5. Ten spaces are allotted for these shifts.

Without a reservation, visitors can use the free shuttle from the Breckenridge Airport Road Lot anytime between 5 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., seven days a week. The shuttle will run every 30 minutes and is first come, first served.

The last pickup from the trailhead is at 7 p.m.

In addition, a second shuttle — the McCullough Gulch shuttle — will run from the Quandary Peak Trailhead to McCullough Gulch Trailhead and back.

Visitors with dogs are encouraged to reserve a parking spot, but dogs are allowed on the shuttle.

Any car found in the parking lot not associated with a reservation will be ticketed and towed, county officials said.

There is no cell service at the base of Quandary Peak, McCullough Gulch, or the trailheads.

This pilot program will remain in place until Oct. 31.

For more information, call the Quandary Peak & McCullough Gulch Parking and Shuttle Hotline at 970-668-4169.