Yankee Boy Basin Road

Dare to drive the Yankee Boy Basin Road

Yankee Boy Basin Road is a short 4x4 trail located southwest of Ouray County, in Colorado, United States. The road is accessible from June until October. It's one of the highest mountain roads of Colorado.

The trail is 4.7 miles long. It climbs up to Yankee Boy Basin, an alpine basin in Ouray County, nestled at an elevation of 3.818m (12,526ft) above the se level. The road is really scary if you are afraid of heights. It’s one of the most popular 4x4 roads in the area. The drive is one of the most popular destinations in the Ouray area due to its stunning natural beauty, rich history and colorful wildflowers. The wildflowers and waterfalls along this road attract photographers from all over the world and the abandoned mines are great for history buffs. There are mines, abandoned cabins, waterfalls, wildflowers, and of course, the incredible Mount Sneffels. Travelling to Yankee Boy Basin should not be attempted by low clearance passenger cars.

Is Yankee Boy Basin Road open?

The road is accessible from June until October. A gate for the upper portion of the trail is closed until the snow melts, usually in late June or early July. The lower portion of the trail is easy. At the middle, the trail gets rocky, narrow and steep, but is suitable for aggressive, high-clearance, stock SUVs. Medium-to-high-clearance vehicles are required to reach the Basin and 4-wheel drive is recommended beyond the basin to Mt. Sneffels trailhead.

Is Yankee Boy Basin Road dangerous?

The road is winding, in some places only wide enough for one vehicle, and in many places bordered by a drop of hundreds of meters (many hundreds of feet) unprotected by guardrails. This road, which becomes more and more "interesting" with each passing mile--turning from a graded dirt road into a slightly bumpy shelf road, finally ending up as a moderate 4WD road with some steep, rough, rutted sections that shouldn't be attempted by any low-clearance 2WD vehicles at all.High-clearance 4WDs are preferred, but any high-clearance vehicle is acceptable. Expect a rough road surface; mud and sand are possible but will be easily passable. You may encounter rocks up to 6 inches in diameter, a loose road surface, and shelf roads, though these will be wide enough for passing or will have adequate pull-offs. A part that passes under a big rock overhang has the biggest drop-offs to the side. The road is narrow at the higher sections and passing other vehicles is nearly impossible, so be prepared that you can get stuck in a traffic on summer weekends. Thunderstorms often develop in the afternoon in the Colorado high country. Visiting early in the day and being back by your vehicle is advisable. Be aware of high altitude sickness, which can be life threatening, and drink plenty of water. There are no services available. Be sure to take water and lunch on your visit. The last mile stretch of road is gravel and rough, high clearance vehicles are advised. Take your time and stay on your side of the road.
Pic: Will Hampson