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: 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.
Posted By: Rcole
Info: 5/31/20 - Camp Bird Road is clear to the bathrooms, and about 1/2 mi. further. Snow drifts are still too heavy above that point for any vehicles. Figure a 1.3 mi. walk to the TH from the highest point you can drive to.
The trail is passable with some firm snowfields to cross. No flotation needed, but spikes are helpful in the notch.
Posted By: Wentzl
Info: Winter gate is open and road is plowed to the outhouse. Recently graded and in excellent shape. No real obstacles for getting to the outhouse by any 4wd with decent clearance.
Posted By: Kiefer
Info: The road is plowed and packed down to the gate closure 3.4 miles from hwy. 550. Plenty of room to park. Icy in the morning/late evening.
Slushy parts on the road. Road is still plowed/packed past the gate then a great trench laid down another 1.3 miles further.
Posted By: angry
Info: Parked at gate closure ~9100ft.
Posted By: Wentzl
Info: Winter gate is still OPEN. Able to drive to the OUTHOUSE. Could have gone further. There are icy patches. See photos.

I only posted photos of ice. 90% of the drive was on dry road. The most snow was just in the first mile after the ice park. After the fork where Yankee Boy and Governors Basin split, it was all clear. A pleasant surprise. I parked at the outhouse, but someone had driven their 4 wheeler to within about 1/2 mile of the top. USE EXTREME CARE coming down. Easier to get up without getting out of control. 4WD only. 2 wd will get stuck way down near the ice park.
Posted By: wintersage
Info: Was able to make it to the outhouse parking area in a stock 4Runner. Beyond that, the road gets a little sketchy with ice, some rocky sections, and creek crossings. On my way back from Sneffels I saw a couple of Jeeps parked right at the turn below the upper TH way past the warning sign. No one was parked at the actual upper TH
Posted By: mrcub14
Info: My CRV AWD made it to a pull off .1 mile below the outhouse easily. I decided not to risk the section just below the outhouse parking area. There was an Audi S4 convertible that made it to the outhouse.
Posted By: Defiant_Sun
Info: This reg Jeep driver (and passengers?), nearly lost life trying to reach the upper parking past the lower TH. I parked my Jeep Liberty at the lower TH parking area and walked to the upper TH. I knew any pic taken could not convey the steepness and seriousness: the front passenger wheel has a rock under it to keep the wind from rocking it and sending it over the cliff edge? How close? 99 out of 100 IMO!
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