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Summer Patrol Program




  • Summer Patrol volunteers must be at least 18 years old and have a passion for preserving and protecting the Indian Peaks and James Peak Wilderness Areas.

  • Volunteers should be experienced hikers, familiar with Indian Peaks & James Peak Wilderness areas and comfortable hiking at elevations above 9,000 ft. Must have adequate fitness, as well as proper hiking gear including the 10 essentialsOther qualities we are looking for include good communication skills, experience interacting with the public, and appreciation of the outdoors!

  • Attendance at the full day mandatory training event held in early June is required for new volunteers. Returning volunteers also have annual training requirements that must be completed. 

  • Volunteers commit to a minimum of four patrol hikes in uniform during the summer season (June through the end of September), preferably on weekends and on popular (high volume) trails. 

  • Volunteers may go on solo patrols or with hiking partner(s) such as fellow volunteers or friends/family (no pets allowed on patrols). ​If you are a first-year volunteer, you must complete at least two hikes with a mentor before going out on your own (these hikes count towards your minimum for the season). 

  • First-year IPWA volunteers also have new volunteer dues of $75 which helps offset the costs of training and uniforms (official Forest Service shirt, name badge, and rain jacket). Returning volunteers pay $25 in annual dues. Scholarships are available to cover payment of dues.

The volunteer sign-up window opens in the spring (typically in April) for the summer season. Please email us if you're interested in becoming a volunteer at Also, consider volunteering for a trail project or joining us for other community events (see our Events page). 

What do Forest Service Patrol Volunteers do?


Uniformed IPWA volunteers, badged as ‘Forest Service Volunteers’ but often viewed by the public as “volunteer wilderness rangers”, are the ambassadors of the wilderness and help to educate visitors to the Indian Peaks and James Peak wilderness areas. As citizen volunteers we are the "eyes and ears" of the Forest Service and help provide visitor counts and report on trail conditions and hazards. We inform and educate wilderness visitors and lead by example - we do NOT do law enforcement. We help the Boulder Ranger District of the U.S. Forest Service manage and preserve the wilderness through education, advocacy and trail restoration projects. 

Summer Patrol volunteers may also volunteer for Trail Head Host Days and extend their season (with additional training requirements) for the Winter Patrol Program.

IPWA volunteers provide the following:

  • Educate visitors about wilderness rules (dogs off leash, campfire restrictions, etc.), by applying the principles of "Leave No Trace" and "Authority of the Resource" to encourage environmentally responsible behavior instead of emphasizing the regulations. 

  • Provide visitors with a visible uniformed presence in the wilderness and answer questions (how far to the lake, etc.)

  • Record data while on patrol (including counts of visitors, specialized users, such as anglers and backpackers, dogs, cars, trail conditions, etc.) and submit a trail report online after each hike in a timely manner.

  • Perform light trail maintenance (if possible) such as cleaning up illegal fire rings and trash, and reporting other trail maintenance needs and downed trees blocking trails.

  • Make new friends, get some exercise and spend time outdoors, all while doing our part to protect these beautiful places!

For more in-depth information, check out A Day in the Life of a Wilderness Volunteer

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