Yankee Boy Basin

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Up county road 361 outside of Ouray, Ouray, CO, USA

Yankee Boy Basin Ouray Reviews

huddleston huddlest…
43 reviews
Switzerland of America Apr 26, 2010
Yankee Boy Basin is an alpine basin just outside of Ouray, Colorado. It is located in the Uncompahgre National Forest in the wonderfully wild San Juan Mountains. The basin is a beautiful alpine environment! No single place in Colorado is more famous for the wildflower blooms than this destination in the beautiful San Juan Mountains.

Nestled at an elevation between 11,500 and 12,500 feet, Yankee Boy Basin contains some of the most picturesque stands of wildflowers in the state. Photographers from all over, flock to the area to photograph the bountiful beauty. Peak wildflower season usually begins in late spring and lasts through the middle of the summer, dependant upon the previous winter of course. Call before to inquire about the snow pack and wildflower season.

Yankee Boy is accessible via a dirt four wheel drive road, branching off the County road 361. This road is well maintained for a while, but soon the trail begins a steep climb and becomes much more rocky with steep drop offs into the canyon. After driving under a huge rock overhang, the basin begins to open up in front of you. The last section to the top of the basin is a moderate 4WD road with some steep, rough, rutted sections that shouldn't be attempted by any low-clearance 2WD vehicles at all.

Along the trail, there are a few forks including turn offs for Imogene Pass and Governors Basin. Both trails are also excellent choices for four-wheeling, photographing the scenery, and viewing wildflowers. Imogene Pass will take up over the mountains and into Telluride, and is a great option after completing Yankee Boy Basin.

The basin itself is surrounded by impressive peaks. Most are 13,500 or higher, towering above the green and wildflower-speckled valley. Mount Sneffels stands highest of all at 14,158 ft. It is one of the famed "fourteeners" of Colorado. Climbers use the Yankee Boy trail as a starting point to hike Mount Sneffels. The basin is also home to several waterfalls. The most famous is of course Twin Falls, which can be seen from the trail. This waterfall is rumored to be the falls used in Coors product advertising. Camp Bird mine and other abandoned ruins are speckled all over the basin. It is a beautiful and picturesque reminder of Colorado's rich mining history!

Standing atop Mount Sneffels or at the pinnacle of the basin it is clear why Ouray is nicknamed Switzerland of America. The air is clear, the colors vibrant, and the only sounds that can be heard are distant waterfalls and the rustle of wind through the valley. Regardless of where you have traveled, I promise Yankee Boy Basin will impress and endear even the most cynical or well traveled.

The trail can be dangerous for inexperienced driver. There is a very dangerous section known as the "cup." Even experienced 4WDers have slipped off this ledge and crashed into the canyon. The trail can be slick when wet and extremely dangerous during the winter, due to avalanche hazards. Afternoon thunderstorms are almost and everyday occurrence during the summer. Watch the clouds! You do not want to be trapped above tree line during an electrical storm. Imogene Pass is a somewhat difficult trail and should not be taken lightly. As always, know your limits and make smart choices. If you're not feeling up to the task, you can get a ride from one of the many jeeping companies in Ouray. For a fee one of their experienced drivers will take you up through the basin and over Imogene. You can still enjoy the drive when you're not concentrating on the road. I prefer to drive myself though. Half the fun is jeeping up there!!!
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photo by: llangberg