Indian Peaks Wilderness Alliance (IPWA) Wilderness Volunteers who complete the annual registration and training requirements can join the summer patrol team. To learn more about how to become a volunteer, visit the Wilderness Volunteer Program page.
If you already enjoy hiking in the Indian Peaks and James Peak Wilderness areas and would like to hike with a purpose, become a wilderness volunteer and you'll be eligible to patrol in uniform on the trails during the summer season, providing assistance to visitors, monitoring trail usage and conditions for the Forest Service, and helping with light trail maintenance and clean-up.
Summer patrol volunteers (viewed by the public as “volunteer wilderness rangers”) are 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 trail condition reports. 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 extend their season (with additional training requirements) for the Winter Patrol Program.
What do the summer patrol volunteers do?
Summer patrollers go on solo patrols or with hiking partners 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 (or attend at least two group field days) before going out on your own (these hikes count towards your minimum 4 service activities for the year).
Educate visitors about wilderness rules (dog leash rules, campfire restrictions, packing out trash, 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 (optional) 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: Volunteering for a Wilderness Patrol.