Trailhead:  Nellie Creek
San Juan Mountains
 Posted By:  Craig Jones
 Date of Info:  06/23/2018
 Date Posted:  06/24/2018
Status Update
Road clear, though there is roadwork a short distance in (USFS doing improvements?). Toilet at trailhead was unlocked and being used (but no TP). On a clear Saturday at 8:30am, primary trailhead lot was full (8 cars?) but plenty of places to pull off nearby. Several nice campsites along the road near the end. Stock Toyota Highlander made it in from CR20 in 0:35 and out without problems--several different regular SUVs at trailhead. Some of the notes make this sound worse than it is--you do need decent clearance and 4WD/AWD and a decent sense of driving to avoid hitting things in the road, but no worse than Engineer Pass. There is a decent example of the worst of the road about 200-300 yards in; pass that and you should be OK. Most persistent problem are the waterbars, which can demand minor maneuvers if your wheelbase+clearance are just right. Switchbacks are tight and steep enough that 2WD will not work; first one coming out of the creek does have a big enough rock that you don't want to just be focused on the creek and then come out poorly placed to maneuver around the rock. Also the road junction is at a left turn (basically a switchback)--would be easy to accidentally go on that little stub. As with any such road, careful attention to geometry of the roadbed (holes, rocks, waterbars) is important.

Comments or Questions
06/25/2018 13:47
Thanks for this report. It's good to hear there are nice campsites near the end as I'll have to walk up. My little car wouldn't make it!

Craig Jones
06/25/2018 14:12
It looked like there were sites on both sides of the road once it flattens out into the more open valley. My recollection is the first ones are in an open meadow where the road flattens out, then there are some in the trees as you approach the trailhead. One on the east side is between the outhouse and trailhead. We didn't camp so can't speak to bugs and weren't so early as to know how many folks camped there the night before. As an alternative, there is a spot popular for camping just west of the junction of the Nellie Creek road and CR20 (Alpine Loop) with a toilet.

Mer Brown
Road Conditions
06/26/2018 12:21
Me again! I plan to take my AWD V6 Outback, I gather from your description it will make it to the TH/campsites?
I have experience driving on some technical roads. Thanks!

Craig Jones
Re: Road Conditions
06/26/2018 12:44
I think the Outback has a similar ground clearance and wheelbase to the Highlander I drove, so I'd think so. A couple steep spots might pose a challenge depending on gearing/torque, not as familiar with how an Outback handles those situations but would hope a V6 would be OK. Good luck!

08/05/2018 11:29
Thanks again! Very helpful!

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