Yankee Boy Basin Trailhead


Range: San Juan Mountains
Coordinates: 37.995, -107.78472
14ers: Mt. Sneffels
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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.
Status Updates 
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.
Posted By: RyGuy
Info: The road above the outhouse has gotten a bit worse than in previous years. The side by side crowd has done a good job gouging out deep holes in front of several rock obstacles. I wouldnt take anything less than a stock Wrangler or 4 Runner above the outhouse.
Posted By: Ssgustafson
Info: Last mile to upper 4WD TH at 12460 feet is at least a 4, and maybe a 5, on the 6 point road difficulty scale. Made is up in my Tacoma. A Jeep Rubicon and Grand Cherokee also made it to the top.
Posted By: soxfan249
Info: Made it to the outhouse in a Subaru Crosstrek with Falken Wildpeaks. The road is steep but well-graded until just shy of the Governor Basin junction, where it gets a little rougher. There were three challenging sections after that turn that made me stop the car and plan my line: one a quarter mile past the turn, one about halfway from there to the outhouse, and one immediately ahead of the outhouse. However, the only time I scraped was when I came over a trough too fast on the descent. Personally, I would not have driven anything with less clearance or stock tires past the 2WD point, but someone did manage to get a Honda CRV on stocks up that high. There was no toilet paper at the outhouse. There are plenty of pull-offs along the entire road to avoid oncoming traffic. Clearance at the cliff overhang is also a non-issue: there was a truck with a pop-up camper at the trailhead as well. I saw two 4-door Wranglers and two 4Runners at the upper 4WD TH.
Posted By: cougar
Info: There’s a steep rocky part shortly past the 2wd parking that cam cause problems for mid clearance vehicles without all terrain tires. Need momentum to get past it but I scraped with a Subaru. Most vehicles of that type parked at the governor split. 4 runners and similar can get to outhouses or above. Road doesn’t get much worse below outhouses but hard to turn around
Posted By: MC.Ikema
Info: The road is snow free to the top, but most parked at or around the outhouse at 11,300. The Texans and their RZRers/Wranglers are out in full force!
Posted By: sierramtngoat
Info: Clear beyond outhouse to ~11,720’ turnaround... there were snow banks and total snow after that. I had no problem in my Jeep Rubicon 4dr to thst point.
Posted By: CarpeDM
Info: Subaru-able to the outhouse with a ballsy/stupid/talented driver (I needed a few attempts to get the right line at one spot, but never hit bottom). Outhouse was still locked as of 5/30/21.
Posted By: supranihilest
Info: Clear to the outhouse and a little bit beyond. The road is wet and muddy in spots. Lots of Jeeps up there.
Posted By: Wentzl
Info: Clear and mostly dry to the outhouse. For some reason, outhouse still locked. Road in good shape this year, no washouts or downed trees to deal with.
Posted By: MartyTheOneManParty
Info: The road is open and melted out about 2.1 miles short of the summer trailhead, just before the outhouses.
Posted By: KyaCav
Info: Just got off the phone with Ouray County roads and bridges. They said there is road work being done and should be open to the public in a week.
Posted By: Bean
Info: Road closed 3.4 miles from the highway, approximately 5.9 miles from the upper trailhead and just over 9,000’.
Posted By: Wentzl
Info: Road is snowy, but well sanded up to the winter access gate which is now locked.
Posted By: Squirrellysquirrel
Info: For what’s it’s worth.... Road is open, but according to Ouray’s road crew, it’s not possible/safe to reach anywhere close to the TH for Sneffels even with high clearance/4WD. Person on the phone said that there’s too much snow and that the road will not be maintained.
Posted By: maxavanzi
Info: No snow on road until 1/4mi from upper TH.
Posted By: nedryarson
Info: Made it up to the outhouse lot with no issues in my friend’s 2018 Ford Explorer. Vehicles at upper trailhead: stock 4runner (AT tires), stock Chevy Silverado (AT tires), stock Land Rover Discovery, stock Jeep Wrangler. Some pretty significant obstacles on the way up but most true SUVs with good tires should make it. Easy hike up from the outhouse trailhead though.
Posted By: wolfgangstiller
Info: Road is in good shape to the 2wd TH. The 4wd part is typical and is pretty rough above about 11,700 feet which is where we parked on Toyota Tundra. The vehicles I saw parked at the end of the road were all short wheel base 4x4 with really good tires. No issues with snow or ice at this time.
Posted By: desxmchna
Info: Made it to upper TH in stock Xterra Pro-4 just w/ AT tires. Up to the outhouse (or at least to the big pull off right before it) should be doable in a normal crossover/suv with decent clearance. After that it gets far more challenging. I took it slow in lo, but didn’t have much trouble. Banged the plastic mudflaps a few times and some light scraping on my nerf steps, but most obstacles looked more intimidating than they turned out to actually be. Down was tougher than up, and I did get out to spot myself once. Longer/wider trucks might have more trouble.
Posted By: sky_high
Info: Road is clear and in good shape. There is some light washboard and pitting, but it shouldn’t be an issue for most vehicles to the lower trailhead, just watch where you are going and drive a reasonable speed. Saw plenty of stock crossovers make it up. The county is grading some of the lower road right now as well, so if you get up there late be prepared to stop for a bit to let the one-way traffic through. The upper 4wd trail should not be attempted by stock vehicles. You might get a truck a little ways up, but if you’re not lifted and don’t have a short wheelbase you will be high-centering regularly and backing up over uneven road for the hairpins. None of the water crossing looked like it would be an impediment. I saw only true 4wds at the top: lifted wranglers, ATVs, and the like.
Posted By: rcpelikan
Info: I got my Ford Focus up to the Governor Basin trailhead without incident. I was glad I didn’t make the effort to continue further, because many 4WD vehicles were struggling to get up to just the outhouse. A truck got stuck in some ruts just past the outhouse lot, and I’m not sure how much further they made it. I only saw Jeeps and the Can-Am type vehicles at the upper Blue Lakes trailhead.

Still, I found the outhouse quite clean and usable. The road was beautiful to take the time hiking up, but I underestimated the added effort it took to walk up it.
Posted By: drchele
Info: Drove to the upper 4WD TH in a stock Jeep Wrangler -- the final mile (the upper 4WD section) has several tight turns, boulders, and washout ruts that made that section closer to a "4/6 TH difficulty" than a 3/6. Having just driven to the upper 4WD THs on Wetterhorn (Matterhorn TH, a 4/6), Uncompaghre (Nellie Creek, a 4/6), and Handies (American Basin, a 3/6), I thought the Yankee Boy Basin upper 4WD TH was worse. You will also have to contend with some tourism: there are Jeep rentals in Ouray and along our descent, we waited behind a long line of off-roaders who were slow and stopped to take pictures along their way. There are also numerous off-highway vehicle (OHVs) toting several rows of tourists, like an amusement park ride.
Posted By: lgilst17
Info: Road is clear of snow all the way to the upper 4WD trailhead.
Posted By: ZacharyD
Info: The 4wd road is clear to about 0.5 miles to the trailhead. There are two patches of snow. The first is passable with traction control and momentum. There is a bypass for the first, but it’s clear it is a pirate trail that has effectively killed the alpine there and was once blocked. The second patch is impassable. We saw many Jeeps try and made it about 30% of the way through. Still ~1.5 ft of snow, so maybe it will be passable in a week or two. There is room for about 6 trucks just before this snow patch.

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