San Juan Mountains Update

Posted by: Muniac

San Juan Mountains Update - 05/22/19 02:44 PM

Some may know we've had record breaking snow conditions the winter of 2018/2019. Adding to that were an unprecedented number of avalanches, slides, sluffs and run-outs. One of our most popular routes through the high country is the Alpine Loop. Which is enjoyed by 4WD vehicles and bikes. Hurricane and California Passes belong to that loop as does the ghost town of Animas Forks.

Bush Ducks maintains some information about popular Colorado high country routes. They published the following report pertaining to the Alpine Loop:

5/16/19 - It is important to note that this was a historic year of snowfall. San Juan county has discovered the valley to Animas Forks is FILLED with snow, up to 100' deep. And this is the access road for the Alpine Loop Essentially. Nothing is open for Memorial Day Weekend, and all trails are in doubt until Late July or August. Just don't want a lot of disappointed folks driving up there. San Juan County plans to make a valiant attempt to cross Hurricane Pass with dozers to bi-pass the area below Animas Forks but they have no idea what they will face right now. The issue is not just snow fall, but record breaking Avalanche runs that buried and destroyed everything.
2/19/19 - Closed by snow.


Ouray County Road and Bridge Department (and other county municipalities) will have their hands full clearing roads. And it's very difficult to know what effort(s) are involved to get roads open. That is until they get the dozers up there. It's also dangerous work on the bench cut road sections.

The Camp Bird Rd. gate is open. Jeannie and I drove up there a couple of days ago and hiked up the Yankee Boy Basin access road. The dozer stopped about 100' short of the knee bend with at least 10' of snow ahead to clear. The avalanche damage up there along Camp Bird road is frightening! And avalanches are still a possibility in some areas.

We hiked out over the snow and had large slabs drop from underneath our feet. No pitch for wet slabs to slide but unnerving just the same. I'd guess we were on 8'-10' of snow. Next time back we'll bring the skis.

Just a heads up for anyone planning a visit. The snow brings with it much needed water and our reservoirs are now filling which is good. My unofficial gut feeling weather prediction is we'll see a rainy Spring, Summer and early Fall followed by another tough winter. Travel safely!
Posted by: Az4x4

Re: San Juan Mountains Update - 05/22/19 03:23 PM


Originally Posted By: Muniac
.....My unofficial gut feeling weather prediction is we'll see a rainy Spring, Summer and early Fall followed by another tough winter. Travel safely!..

Hope you're right. We'll take all we can get and love it!
Posted by: Muniac

Re: San Juan Mountains Update - 05/22/19 07:36 PM

The avalanche "experts" have hence forth advised the road crews to stay out of the mountains for a while. Nothing is worth a fatality. We've already croaked 8 so far in snow accidents. Yes water is a good thing.
Posted by: Az4x4

Re: San Juan Mountains Update - 05/23/19 03:08 PM


Snowed two days ago, and it's snowing again this morning! What a way to wind up May here in the high country! Flatlanders set to spend Memorial Day camping in the woods away from the heat of the Valley are rethinking their plans I'm certain. Its snowy, cold and wet, not warm and sunny like people were counting on this time of year..
Posted by: peejman

Re: San Juan Mountains Update - 05/23/19 04:01 PM

It's snowing there and it's in the 90's here, go figure. Glad you're getting the water, regardless of the form.
Posted by: Az4x4

Re: San Juan Mountains Update - 05/23/19 06:08 PM


Originally Posted By: peejman
..It's snowing there and it's in the 90's here, go figure. Glad you're getting the water, regardless of the form..

Whatever form it comes in, we need the moisture. Forests are green and healthy, wildflowers in bloom, watering holes full - lovin' it for sure! If we have another few years of wet weather we may officially put this years long drought behind us, so knock on wood and whatever else it takes!..