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Volunteer Opportunities

The idea of wilderness needs no defense, only more defenders. Edward Abbey

The Indian and James Peaks Wilderness areas offer a treasured resource for all to enjoy. The special nature of this area has allowed it to become one of the most utilized wilderness areas in the United States. 

The Indian Peaks Wilderness Alliance (IPWA) is a 100% volunteer 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to preserving and protecting the Indian Peaks and James Peaks Wilderness Areas.

Since it was founded in 1985, the IPWA has partnered with the U.S. Forest Service Boulder Ranger District to work collaboratively to preserve and protect these important wilderness areas.

For over 30 years, IPWA volunteers have provided countless hours patrolling and maintaining trails, educating users of the backcountry and wilderness areas, and supporting education programs to foster environmental stewardship - thus creating and preserving a legacy of these cherished areas for future generations.

IPWA volunteers come from all walks of life and range in age from 18 - 80+ years young. What brings us together is our shared love for the wilderness and dedication to helping preserve and protect these precious places. Most volunteers are located in the Boulder-Denver metro areas, with some volunteers from mountain communities around Nederland. 

We offer two main types of volunteer opportunities:

1. IPWA Seasonal Wilderness Volunteers commit to completing annual training, are outfitted with a uniform, and commit to completing a minimum of “four service activities” per calendar year (such as patrols, trailhead host days, trail projects, and helping with training and outreach events, etc.). Visit our Wilderness Volunteer Program page to learn more.

2. If you do not have time to volunteer for a full season/year, you may join us for one or more volunteer trail work projects this summer (these events are open to the public and do not require an application process, see our Events page for upcoming dates). Visit our Trail Restoration Projects page to learn more.

If you're interested in volunteering, please email us at to be added to our email list. Please indicate if you are interested in trail projects and/or in applying to become a Wilderness Volunteer, starting this next summer season.

Additional Volunteer Opportunities:
We can always use volunteers who share our values and serve in other ways (e.g., fundraising, committee work, office support, etc). Please contact us if you're interested!

Are you located on the Western Slope of the Continental Divide?

Be sure to check out the Grand County Wilderness Alliance. The IPWA is not officially affiliated with this sister volunteer group but we do share the same objectives. The Grand County Wilderness Alliance assists the Sulphur Ranger District of the U.S. Forest Service in managing and protecting wilderness and backcountry areas in Grand County, including the Indian Peaks Wilderness accessed from the Western Slope. Volunteers host cabins at the Junco Lake Trailhead and Monarch Lake Trailheads on weekends and holidays in the summer months. 

What our volunteers say....

"Why do I volunteer with the IPWA?   It gets me out into the mountains that I love! The number of visitors to our forests and parks are growing, ever faster. But the wild lands are not...The U.S. Forest Service, caretaker of our lands, is not growing commensurately, thus the need for volunteer rangers, to be the “eyes and ears” of the Forest service, to help & advise fellow hikers. I appreciate being able to help preserve our wild lands for future generations!"

— Zdenka Smith, IPWA Volunteer Since 2012

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