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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. 


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. 

While most of our volunteers actively patrol trails during the summer, we also have volunteers who help with trail restoration projects or provide other administrative support. Summer patrol volunteers may also help out with trail head host days, extended patrolling through the winter patrol program, and interpretive hikes.  

All new & returning volunteers must register online each year in the spring for the upcoming season. The online registration forms include the service agreement, waiver, volunteer questionnaires, and updated contact and emergency contact information. New volunteer applicants will fill out an online application form and will go through a short interview (via phone or zoom). 


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

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

Summer Patrol Program -Wilderness "Ranger" Volunteers: 

If you already enjoy hiking in the Indian Peaks and James Peak Wilderness areas and would like to hike with a purpose, become a volunteer ranger and you'll patrol the trails in uniform providing assistance to visitors, monitoring trail usage and conditions for the Forest Service, and helping with light trail maintenance and clean-up. 

Trail Restoration Projects: 

Our volunteer trail restoration crews help maintain the trails for the safety and enjoyment of all. Trail projects include trail restoration projects, tree clearing cross-cut saw crews (with additional training provided), and removal of invasive weeds. Some trail projects may include volunteers from outside organizations, such as the Rocky Mountain Conservation Corps, Teens Inc. etc.

Additional Volunteer Opportunities:
We can always use volunteers who share our values and serve in other ways (e.g., fundraising, committee work, education programs, outreach, 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. 

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