Yankee Boy Basin Trailhead


Range: San Juan Mountains
Coordinates: 37.995, -107.78472
14ers: Mt. Sneffels
Elevation: 12,460'
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Road Difficulty

Easy 4WD, good clearance recommended. 3   (0=Paved, 6=Very Difficult 4WD)
Easy 4WD to the restrooms. 4WD to the upper TH.

Driving Directions

Take US 550 to Ouray. 1/4 mile south of town, turn west onto Country Road (CR) 361 (2WD, Dirt) toward Yankee Boy Basin and start measuring mileage from this point. Your mileage may vary slightly, but the following list describes the turns and milestones:
  • 4.6 miles: Stay right on CR 26.
  • 5.2 miles: The road is cut into the cliffs like a "C" so there is rock hanging over the road.
  • 5.9 miles: Stay right on CR 26 at the junction for Imogene Pass.
  • 6.7 miles: Stay right at the junction for Governor Basin. The remaining drive is 4WD and 2WD cars should park at or near this junction.
  • 7.5 miles: Reach the lower "trailhead" where there's a restroom.
Driving beyond this point requires high-clearance 4WD
  • 100 yards after the restroom parking area, pass a large rock and stay right at a junction.
  • 8.0 miles: Stay right.
  • 8.2 miles: There's a sign that recommends only 4WD, high-clearance, short-wheelbase. 4WD vehicles can continue another mile to the signed, upper trailhead at 12,460'.

Winter Access

Usually closed low on the road.

More Info

Parking: Room for ~15 vehicles at the lower (restroom) parking. Some pull-offs and parking higher and room for 5 vehicles at the upper, 4WD trailhead.
Camping: Dispersed camping along the road.
Restrooms? Yes
Fees? No
Trailhead added by BillMiddlebrook
Status Updates 
Posted By: durkan
Info: Open! Plowed all the way to that lower 4wd TH with the shack. Construction and work is still occuring below that, so drive slow and cautiously.
Posted By: HikerGuy
Info: In case anyone was looking to get a jump on the holiday weekend. Per Ouray County Road and Bridge FB page:

In preparation for a busy Memorial Day weekend and summer season, we will need to close CR361/26 (Camp Bird Road/Yankee Boy Basin) for necessary culvert repairs. The closure will begin at the Senator Gulch gate area at 8am and will reopen as soon as repairs are completed. We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as we work to maintain this important and heavily traveled road.
Posted By: Wentzl
Info: Winter gate open, not yet clear to trailhead, but the 4.3 mile hike has been cut back to 1.1
Posted By: Wentzl
Info: Winter gate is closed.
Posted By: 100PeaksAdv
Info: Its crazy how much things can change in a little over a week! The trailhead is completely snowed out starting a little past the turn-off for governor basin. I also wouldnt be surprised if this gets pushed back even further following the snow on 10/26 and 10/27. Possibly even the gate closure.

I broke trail through about 12,800. Some post-holing as much as 2 feet deep already. Couldnt capture any footage due to earlier than expected white-out conditions. So I called it a day and turned around.
Posted By: Wentzl
Info: The road has never been in better condition all the way to the outhouse. The washout shown in the photo on the 8/26/22 report has been repaired. They have run the grader over this thing and made it so I could just about get my Accord to the outhouse. Seriously, I have been driving this road several times a year for 25 years. NEVER BETTER!!
Posted By: dt_forrest
Info: Drove up in a Honda civic and parked about a mile before the outhouse, with a good amount of space for other cars at that area (around 10,500 feet elevation). Pot holes to watch for before that, but nothing major. A little after that point the road gets much rougher, and there is a major washout, although there seems to be a path around the washout on the left side (going up). If I had driven my Outback I think I could have made it up to the outhouse, but it would take a little care and bravery.
Posted By: GSODJA
Info: My climbing partner and I were also climbing Mt. Sneffels last Friday. Adding some additional pictures to previous post where Subaru got stuck to give additional view of road. We couldn’t get past the Subaru and had to park below. The rain has created a number of washouts. Strongly suggest only 4 wheel drive vehicles and with lift - we spoke to a caravan of jeeps at the upper 4WD trailhead on our way down. They told us while waiting for the Subaru to get towed it cost $1700 JUST for the tow (before damage to the car)!
Posted By: mehale00
Info: With recent rain there are some significant washout ditches about a half mile after the restrooms. Made it through in a Jeep Grand Cherokee at night with just 1 inch tire lift but it was sketchy. Couldn’t get back out the next morning because a Suburu with lower clearance got wedged, had to wait a few hours for a crew to get it out.
Posted By: dlaw
Info: There are some potholes worth avoiding on the way up to 2WD parking. From there to the outhouse parking, AWD and at least 8" ground clearance are needed. We made it up in a Crosstrek. A few of the obstacles required a second attempt and many require a careful choice of line. Other vehicles at the outhouse included an Outback, a CRV, and a CX-7. We hiked up higher and observed that stock Rubicons were making it to the upper trailhead, but they had to work for it.
Posted By: jtinney
Info: Road is not in good shape, even before the outhouse. The rain is contributing to this. The upper portion beyond the 4x4 sign has about 4 or 5 difficult moves. I have a stock Rubicon and scraped on the rock wall which is one of the last obstacles before you get to the upper trailhead. I and others went up on the left side but coming down you need to go to other side (left coming down) which creates a pretty big roll angle. It’s doable for sure but you really need high clearance and a shorter wheelbase. The last mile is the hardest which you would expect. Even before that there are certainly obstacles that I would say make it a difficult class 3 road. Go slow and make sure anything loose is tied down. For the upper portion of the trail you will encounter the first major obstacle soon after you pass the 4x4 sign. If you have issues going over that you can easily back down and park in the lower parking area. Keep in mind the obstacles above that get progressively worse so just stay within your comfort zone.
Posted By: Wentzl
Info: Got my Tacoma to the upper trailhead at 12,500 last night and I have to say the upper part of this road has been deteriorating these past few years. A little worse every year. Currently the rating of "3" for this stretch is out of date. I managed to bang my head on the roof of the truck twice, which does not happen on a "3". I would give it all of a 5 for difficulty. Certainly not comparable to Jaws on the Como Road, but not a walk in the park either.
Posted By: mmbakken
Info: Recent mudslide damage was cleaned up well and the posted road closure shouldn’t be a problem after today, 8/2/21. Check the Ouray Road & Bridge site for current conditions: https://ouraycountyco.gov/151/Road-Bridge

Made it to the parking area at 11,600 in a stock VW Tiguan with 4WD and ~7" clearance. Was a rough drive up: there are a couple of small temporary creeks to cross, given the recent heavy rain. Difficult and very narrow in spots. I’d probably stick to the 2WD trailhead if I had to go up again, but a few other crossover type cars made it up too.
Posted By: ReginaThomas
Info: Road is closed at thistledown campground due to mudslides. No ETA on reopening. This also affects Imogene pass and governor basin.
Posted By: Evey1134
Info: Road was solid until the 4wd sign. I made it about a mile past this sign, Could have gone more but was crunched for time and didnt feel it was necessary to risk scraping. The last ~.5 mile of road was steep but certainly doable in a modified 4wd.
Posted By: srtaylor1317
Info: We took a Ford Expedition with All Terrain tires all the way to the parking area at 8.2 miles. We took it slow, with careful navigation, but even so, scraped a couple rocks entering/exiting some of the creek crossings. So, any true 4WD vehicle with 9"+ clearance can make it to this point, but expect to add some wear and tear. To take on the last mile, you really need to have something with a shorter wheel base. However, we did see a number of the Jeeps that you can rent in town make it all the way to the Upper Trailhead without issue.
Posted By: E_A_Marcus_949
Info: Made it up to about 11,600’ parking area (space for 5-10 cars if people are considerate) before serious 4x4/4WD road starts in a stock 2020 Tacoma Off-Road, double cab with long bed, and stock tires (my friend was driving his car). The road from 2WD to outhouse parking at 11,350 was actually a pretty solid 4WD road. I push my car (a 2018 Forester) to a lot of places (like S. Colony Lakes), but I wouldn’t want to take it up this road.

The outhouse has TP and is one of the most scenic you’ll see. There is a large parking area here. No camping signs everywhere.

From the outhouse area to 11600 there are two ways - the loop off to the left (if headed into the basin) and straight - straight is rougher but both were doable. Past 11,600 where the 4WD sign is, there are some immediate obstacles, including the aforementioned obstacle at 11,800. The snowdrift around 12k has had some drivers go through it, so it’s now passable. Lots of mud and other large obstacles though up to the upper TH. Did not see any cars make it all the way up. One lifted 4Runner with what looked like off-road tires made it slightly higher than the 4WD road sign/after the small parking area, though.
Posted By: Buckie06
Info: There’s an obstacle at about 11,800’ that is stopping most vehicles including my Xterra Pro4x. A large parking spot for 5+ cars is below this. Only modified high clearance jeeps and side by sides made it further. No vehicle has made it past 12,200’ where a large snow drift is blocking the road.
Posted By: Wentzl
Info: Road still blocked by snow before the upper 4wd trailhead but you can now drive as far as the Wright’s Lake trail junction.
Posted By: cloudkicker
Info: The gate is open and the road to the lower YBB TH is plowed. When I called last week they said to expect it done by middle of this week. But they got it done early.
Posted By: cloudkicker
Info: I called Ouray County Road & Bridge today to get info about Camp Bird Road to the lower YBB TH.

Plowing began on Wednesday and should be done by the middle of next week.

They said NO vehicle traffic until the road is clear.

They HIGHLY ADVISED AGAINST pedestrian traffic until the road is clear.

Apparently a hiker almost got run over by a bulldozer during last years plow.

They also said the plow process sometimes triggers avalanches.

Long story short, wait just a little longer for lower trailhead access to Yankee Boy.
Posted By: Kiefer
Info: Road is obviously still gated at Senator Gulch.
From the gate to the Revenue Mine, road is plowed, super hard packed snow & icy. Past the mine, it’s all unplowed and powder. Bring skis.
Posted By: Kiefer
Info: As previously mentioned, the gate is closed at Senator Gulch for the season. Road as of Monday, is completely dry to the outhouse with occasional ice flows crossing the road.
Past the Revenue-Virginus mine, sporadic snow and ice on the road.
Posted By: bechbc
Info: The gate at Senator Gulch is closed for the winter.
Posted By: debo
Info: Road was clear and straightforward to the lower trailhead. Decided to park there. It ended up being a good decision. The 4x4 road was passable for about a mile. We saw a modified Jeep Wrangler that decided to park about a mile up the 4x4 road because he couldn’t go any further. After that point, there were snow drifts that had packed down to icy conditions and really covered the road to a good extent. The road snow/ice was firm in the morning but had turned to some mud and running water by the afternoon on our way back down. Not worth the effort going past the lower TH in my opinion this late in the season.
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