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Yankee Boy Basin: Nearest Towns:  Ouray Difficulty:  Easy/Moderate End Points: Start:  County Road 361 38.0176,-107.6745 Finish:  Yankee Boy Mine 37.9948,-107.7846 Estimated Open Season: May to October Estimated Miles:   8 miles one-way Estimated Drive Time: 2 hours one-way Yankee Boy Basin One of the most popular 4x4 roads in the area, Yankee Boy Basin is close to Ouray, has incredible scenery and full of history from the late 1800's. The wildflowers and waterfalls along this road attract photographers from all over the world and the abandoned mines are great for history buffs. This trail is a good out and back that can be combined with Imogene Pass if you get an early enough start. The road to the Yankee Boy Mine is about 8 miles long (one way) and is rated easy to easy moderate with only a few steep rocky climbs. There is an optional section that is sometimes opened at the parking area near the restrooms that is rated high moderate to low difficult. This takes you closer to the Mt. Sneffels and Blue Lake Trailheads but don't count on it being open all the time and if this portion is closed please obey signs posted. To get there we have an interactive map showing the route and you can even click on the trailhead icon, select "Directions" and follow the instructions. Basically you take the same trail that leads to Imogene Pass along the Camp Bird Road (county road 361) that is just south of Ouray city limits. Follow CR361 for about six miles where you will pass the Camp Bird Mine, take the fork to the right and head up into Yankee Boy. Although the trail is rated as an easy moderate, there is a short section where the road is very narrow and passes under some hanging rock along a fairly big drop off. Bit of a warning for people afraid of heights but is still quite a thrill to drive! The Camp Bird Mine is a very famous gold mine that has been around since the mid 1800's and has produced well over a million troy ounces of gold! The tailings pile (on the left as you are headed in) is a good land mark that is hard to miss. Just up from the junction of Imogene on the Yankee Boy trail is the Ghost Town of Sneffels which was established in the mid 1870's.  You will see the Torpedo Eclipse Mine on the right followed by the Ruby Trust Mine and the Atlas Mill on the left. All of these historical sites are prime representations of the strength and ingenuity the miners of this era had. It's hard to imagine how many difficulties had to be overcome to get the materials up the canyon and into production. Amazing!! The basin is usually full of wild flowers all summer long and Sneffels Creek has waterfalls that are a photographer's paradise. It has been said that during the peak spring flower season "there are more tripods than trees!" At the top there is a parking area with restroom facilities and you can see the Yankee Boy Mine and the trail leading to Blue Lake and the 14ner Mt. Sneffels. It is at this point where you can get out and relax for a while, take some pictures, have a picnic and head back down the way you came. If you have planned your trip well and started out early enough you can go out of Yankee Boy Basin and continue your 4x4 adventure over Imogene Pass into Telluride. This will make for a long day and many people prefer to camp or find lodging but it is not that bad of a trip along the highway to either Durango or Ouray. It is also possible to do a really big loop for a very long day. You can go up to Yankee Boy Basin, back down, head over Imogene Pass into Telluride, take the highway to the city of Ophir and go over Ophir Pass back to HWY 550. (Can also be done in reverse order.) From there you can choose to go north to Ouray or South to Silverton and Durango. You will see more mountain high country in one day than some people will see in a lifetime! This is a BIG loop and if you take the time to enjoy it you will probably be finishing the adventure after sunset and some good libations at a local pub will be in order! Share in the adventure, enjoy the rich history and immerse yourself in the beauty of the San Juan's that is Yankee Boy Basin.  

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Sneffels Creek    Photographer:  James Hobby
l The famous “Camp Bird Mine” circa 1920-1930 l 14er:  Mount. Sneffels