Yankee Boy Basin Trailhead


San Juan Mountains
37.995° N, -107.78472° W
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: kayleenann8
Info: Easily made it to the bathroom pull out in stock Subaru Outback. Road is dry and in pretty good condition. Not sure if I saw this anywhere else: there are no camping signs at the THs.
Posted By: TravelingMatt
Info: No problem getting to the crapper in a Rav4, although I scraped my tailpipe on one of the creek crossings. Crapper was out of service in the afternoon as USFS was "retrofitting" it (they weren’t more specific). There’s some misinformation on other reports; the crapper is around 11350’ at (37.9882, -107.7655) WGS84.
Posted By: Juniorevitch
Info: Road 361 is washed out at about 3.5 miles. It’s probably passable with 4wd, but passenger cars will have a very hard time.
Posted By: AcornMan
Info: The road to the 2WD trailhead is easy peasy. Any vehicle should be able to make it there with no problem at all. Getting beyond that to the lower 4WD trailhead (at 13,500 feet) requires a higher clearance vehicle because the road is rougher, but I easily made it in a Subaru Outback with no complications whatsoever. To go beyond that, however, requires a true high clearance 4x4, such as a Jeep Wrangler, Toyota Tacoma, or Toyota 4Runner. I cannot imagine trying to get a Subaru or similar vehicle beyond the lower 4WD trailhead, and I highly advise against trying.
Posted By: Wentzl
Info: Clear to the 12,300 4wd trailhead. The ruts below the outhouse have been repaired. Road is overall in as good condition as it ever is.
Posted By: BillMiddlebrook
Info: Road is dry to within 0.5 mile of the UPPER trailhead, where it’s blocked by snow fields. Additionally, there’s a deep rut in the road 0.3 mile below the lower (restroom) trailhead and many vehicles are parking just below the rut, on each side of the road, causing some congestion. If you have a short-wheelbase 4WD, you can make it to the main (lower) TH and drive a bit farther if you’re looking for a dispersed camp spot (left side of the road). As far as that rut just below the lower trailhead, I made it through with my full-size pickup in 4WD, no problem.
Posted By: Liquid Shadow
Info: Road to the lower TH is clear. I made it in my Honda CRV fitted with AT tires. Saw a Ford Focus getting stuck in one rough spot though. Road to the upper TH is still covered in snow starting at about a quarter mile above the lower TH.
Posted By: stoopdude
Info: Lower TH definitely not currently accessible by passenger car, but you can get within 0.5-1.0 miles of it in any car. 4WD and clearance required to get to the toilets. Road to upper TH still under feet of snow in many places, but melting quickly.
Posted By: capetrekker
Info: Road has been plowed to Lower 4WD Trailhead.
Posted By: gb
Info: Plowed to the outhouse. Go get some
Posted By: RyGuy
Info: Road still closed at the usual winter closure @ 9,150’. The road is currently plowed to roughly 37.981251N -107.760460.
Posted By: KristineL
Info: We parked at the lower trailhead on Saturday morning, which wasn’t a bad drive in our old Jeep Cherokee (not modified, but high-clearance and on the fly 4WD). There wasn’t a need for 4WD to the lower trailhead (we didn’t use it), just high clearance. The cars we saw there were jeeps, trucks, and 4-runners (didn’t see any lower clearance cars or Subarus). We could have made it to the upper trailhead, but had decided we wanted to start at the lower. The upper trailhead was full of jeep wranglers and seemed to be a popular jeeping spot (possibly with tours from Ouray). Based on what we saw hiking up, it seemed any high-clearance vehicle could have probably made it there. No snow or ice to worry about when we drove out and all washed out sections were fine in our jeep or easy to avoid.
Posted By: BethL
Info: Made it to the upper TH in a 4 door dodge dakota. It seems the "road type" rating of 3 is rated to the lower trailhead. I drove up Nellie Creek the next day after YBB and it is definitely easier than getting to the YBB upper trailhead (but Nellie Creek’s road type is rated 4).

While there are quite a few pulloffs that someone could park, people also park on the road, which made the return trip out of the basin a little more difficult.
Posted By: JQDivide
Info: Saw a Chevy Tahoe and a full size Dodge truck at upper 4wd TH, but both had good clearance. I wouldn‘t have done it in our Suburban, a few sharp turns. But the Dodge was a long, but higher.
No issues with the lower road and TH.
There is a sign about 1/3 the way up (past the lower TH) that says "Short wheelbase 4wd" any 4wd can make it here and there is parking for several vehicles.
Posted By: JROSKA
Info: Made it to the lower TH (restroom) with a Jeep Patriot. Not sure I agree with the "Easy 4WD" ranking though - that last .8 miles is tough. Bottomed out once at the start, and in the last 1/3 mile, there were two rough sections (wash-outs) that took a lot of care to get through. Almost got stuck once. This road probably meets the upper capabilities of a Patriot.
Posted By: TravelingMatt
Info: Road is clear to end, but wet with runoff in spots. Streams are still running high, and the trails to Sneffels and Blue Lakes still have snow, but crossings shouldn’t be a problem with any vehicle with enough clearance to go past the outhouse. I made it to the outhouse in a Rav4 without dragging but a Jeep Patriot with Texas plates stopped short (saw him try).
Posted By: CO_GPS_Guy
Info: Road to lower trail head is open and in fine shape. Road is closed past lower trail head (near the flat spot at 12,300’ mentioned in the route description) but before reaching upper trail head, but appears to be 4WD driveable if the forest service would open it.
Posted By: AlexeyD
Info: Similar to last update. Still snow-covered above ~12k. One large washout at about 11,100’, or ~1/3 mile from the outhouses, stopped many vehicles or made them turn around (we parked right before it). Otherwise, road is in OK shape for most vehicles with 8 inches or more clearance. Lots of water on the road, so if you’re walking it, waterproof boots and poles are helpful.
Posted By: Jonathan Deffenbaugh
Info: Same as trail dirt 1’s description. The road essentially had a stream in the middle past the Governor/Yankee Boy intersection. There are some sections where 4WD highly recommended past the intersection. Higher trailhead still closed off due to impassable snow conditions.
Posted By: mprice422
Info: trailhead still plowed to the outhouse. road in good condition. the trail itself is still covered in snow although there are foot tracks.
Posted By: Wentzl
Info: Plowed through to the outhouse. Generally in good shape.
Posted By: k-berger
Info: You can drive to the governor basin/ Yankee boy junction. Road is semi plowed up into Yankee Boy, but not sure if it reaches all the way to the outhouse.
Posted By: Yikes
Info: Normal winter closure...but the road is plowed all the way to Governor Basin, making the extra mileage somewhat easy (but pretty muddy).
Posted By: addrock528
Info: A subaru could probably make it up to the sign that recommends high clearance/short wheel base about a mile from the trailhead. I drove up in a Toyota Sequoia and made it to that spot just fine. I attempted the rougher part in the dark but chickened out b/c I didn’t feel like messing up my ride in the dark. A beautiful drive with the aspens changing.
Posted By: bdloftin77
Info: 2wd passenger cars can easily make it to the Governor Basin Rd/Yankee Boy Basin Rd junction at 10,800. It‘s a bit steeper, and there‘s more rocks before the bathroom lot, but most SUVs can make it there. At the upper TH, I saw several large pickups, a few jeeps, an Explorer, a couple 4Runners, and.. a Subaru sedan! The couple who drove the sedan said that they did scrape some, and that it‘s not as nice as their other car. But it is possible to bring a sedan to the upper TH apparently. It is fairly steep, and has lots of rock. (I walked from the junction at 10,800, so I didn‘t pay as much attention to road specifics as I otherwise would have)

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