Offering gorgeous vistas of the jagged St. Sophia Ridge and beautiful wildflowers in late July, Governor Basin is a great route for travelers who wish to have the beautiful scenery that it's sister trail, Yankee Boy Basin has to offer, without the vehicle traffic that sometimes occurs. This route leads through stunning evergreen forest and ends high above timberline at the well preserved Mountain Top Mine.
From the corner of US 550 and 6th Avenue in Ouray: Travel south on US 550 for 0.6 miles. In the first switchback as US 550 exits the town of Ouray, turn right and follow signs for Camp Bird Road and Box Canyon Falls. Follow Camp Bird Road west for 4.5 miles. At Camp Bird Mine, bear right at the fork and follow signs for Forest Service Road 853. Forest Service Road 853 is the route into Yankee Boy Basin. Follow FS 853 for an additional 2.1 miles. The trailhead is well marked on the (left) south side of the road.
Currently, San Juan County has issued CLOSURES on all their backcountry passes. San Miguel, Hinsdale, and Ouray County issued a travel at your own risk advisory.
Ran this as part of the 2019 Unlimited LJ Adventure. Trail is 100% open from beginning to end. Looks like a dozer came in and cleared the remaining snow drifts so they could access the working mine up there. The views are great as always and we even met a historian at the end documenting some things in the area and filling us in with a lot of great history.
Heavy snow pack and late season snow falls have greatly affected the opening date to many of the trails in the San Juan Mountains. I will try to quickly update these trail guides to reflect when the hard working plow and dozer operators are able to dig these wonderful trails out for all of us to enjoy.
Among the most scenic Ouray trails, Governor Basin is a favorite of mine. The road was fully open on this visit, and I got to drive to the end where the gate is situated some 500 yds. from the mining structure. Wildflowers were still abundant, but clearly beyond prime in late August. We saw a mature Big Horn ram just beyond the intersection of Sydney Basin, sitting beneath a cliff on the stone rubble. It was amazing!
We drove the Governor Basin Road as part of a four-day excursion in Ouray/Silverton/Telluride. This is a short and beautiful road ascending high in the mountains, with spectacular views all around. We found that the snow bank (Waypoint 5) was still large enough to prevent passage of 4-wheel vehicles; hikers, mountain bikes, and motorcycles could pass with relative ease.
Greg Stokes Is a Colorado native, born and raised in Colorado Springs. He has been off-roading since childhood, his parents say his first trip was a Jeep run over Medano Pass when he was only 14 Months old. Greg has been at the wheel of everything from dirtbikes, ATV's, early Jeep CJ5's that he has restored, Wranglers, and presently explores in a 1997 80 Series Toyota Land Cruiser and a 2016 Kawasaki KLR650 motorcycle. Greg is a proud Husband and Father of 3. His passion in the off road world is the vehicle-reliant world of Overlanding. He hopes to one day make it to Canada to Explore the Yukon and Northwest territories.