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Mountain Biking: Colorado > White River National Forest > Holy Cross Ranger District

Quick Facts

Ranch Creek Four-Wheel Drive Road

Beginning Elevation: 9,200 Feet (2867.8 Meters)
Difficulty: Most Difficult
Elevation Gain: 2,000 Feet (623.4 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 11,000 Feet (3428.9 Meters)
High Point: 11,200 Feet (3491.3 Meters) at mile 2.5, entering ridgetop meadows
Length, One-way: 4 Miles (6.67 Kilometers)
Other Maps: Vail Pass Winter Recreation Area
Road Number: FDR 755
Ti Topo Maps: #109 Breckenridge, Tennessee Pass
USGS Maps: Pando

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

Ranch Creek Area at Camp Hale
Copyright: Zander Higbie - Interactive Outdoors, Inc.
Ranch Creek Area at Camp Hale
This road leaves historic Camp Hale, a training ground primarily used by the military during World War II. Camp Hale is partially responsible for the creation of Vail and Beaver Creek Ski resorts, as some of the soldiers who trained at Camp Hale returned to start these world class ski areas. Be sure to read the information sign posted at a turnoff on Highway 24, near the south end of Camp Hale.

Ranch Creek Jeep road is a great choice for those looking for challenging four-wheeling, but who don't want to spend all day in their vehicle. This road gains elevation quickly, and visitors frequently see wildlife including marmots, deer and elk. After 1/4 mile, the road weaves in and out of a mature aspen forest, alternating with open meadow featuring great views to the west and south. At 2 miles, be sure to pull over to visit the ruins of a sheep herding camp. Bring your bug spray, though. It is estimated that these cabins were built around 1870 because of the square headed nails that were used.

At just under 4 miles, you'll reach the summit with amazing views of the Sawatch range, and fourteen thousand foot peaks to the south. If you stop in this meadow, please be aware of the fragile tundra, and enjoy the abundance of wildflowers from the road, so that others may do the same in the future.

You may wish to walk a little further down this road... there is a 10th Mountain Division Hut here. Jackal Hut is one of the nicest in this link of huts used by cross-country skiers and hikers, and boasts a spacious main floor and a sauna. Call the 10th Mountain Division Hut System for more information.

At this point, carefully turn your vehicle around, and enjoy the trip back the way you came.

The beginning of this trail frequently has a lot of biting insects. Be sure to bring bug spray. The trail is quite steep in many sections. Be sure to take your time in "4-low" and do not spin your wheels. Spinning won't get you anywhere, and will only dig you in deeper!
Please do not leave the main road at any time, since this fragile area could be closed to visitors if it is not taken care of.

Directions from Vail: Take I-70 to the Minturn exit (#171). Follow Highway 24 south, through the town of Minturn, and continue a total distance of 14 miles from the interstate until you reach a valley opening. Look for the first major turnoff on the left (east) side onto a dirt road entering Camp Hale. Follow the road to the immediate right and at .5 miles from Highway 24 take a left at the "Y" and then a right at the immediate next "Y". Follow this road south approximately .5 miles until it curves left (east) and look for the Ranch Creek Jeep Road sign on your right (north).

Seasonal Information:
Normally Accessible: Summer through Fall (NOTE: Seasons vary depending on snow depths) .

Fee Information
Type Price Remarks
Vail Pass Recreation Fee Demo Site Call for Current Fee All users are expected to purc

Current Conditions & Trip Reports
Snow conditions exist, muddy. Updated: 2001-05-16 11:17:00.0

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Length of Time: An eternity (seemingly)
Difficulty: Hard
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: When people say this is an expert 4x4 road, they aren't kidding. I was extremely stupid and decided to drive up this road in a rented Montero. Had no prior experience at all with off-roading. Almost killed myself. Certainly soiled myself along the way!! This road is STEEP. The average grade is 18%! There were spots when the Montero wouldn't go up even when I was flooring the gas. Had to switch to low gear (duh!--remember I'm a newbie). After that, it was okay--but still scary as heck. I really thought at times I was either gonna roll backwards or sideways off the mountain. Definitely a lot more fun for the experienced off-roader. I enjoyed the ride looking back on it now, but it was a whole different story while I was behind the wheel. Make sure any vehicle you take up has high clearance AND low gearing. Believe me, you wouldn't want to drive backwards down this road because you eventually discover your ride didn't have enough grip or power. I had planned on riding my mtn bike down this road, but after seeing how rocky and steep it was, I decided to pass on another opportunity to kill myself. Don't be stupid like me--get some experience before taking on this monster road.
Conditions: Very rocky and extremely steep at spots. Occasionally, the road's quite a bit off camber so be careful not to tip over sideways.

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Cross-country Skiing
ICON Four-Wheel Driving
ICON Mountain Biking
ICON Motorcycle Riding
ICON Snowshoeing

Related Activities
Camp Hale Memorial Campground - The Camp Hale Memorial Campground is located in historic Camp Hale, south of Minturn, at an elevation of 9200 feet. The campground consists of 21 sites and reservations are accepted.

East Fork Group Site - East Fork is a group campground site, designed to accommodate large groups. It is located in Camp Hale, south of Minturn.

More Information

Visitor Information:

Vail Valley Partnership, 100 East Meadow Drive , Vail, CO, 81657, Phone: 800-525-3875, Fax: 970-476-6008, www.visitvailvalley.com


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