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Camping: Colorado > White River National Forest > Holy Cross Ranger District

Quick Facts

Holy Cross City Four-Wheel Drive Road

Beginning Elevation: 9,300 Feet (2899.0 Meters)
Difficulty: Difficult
Elevation Gain: 2,100 Feet (654.6 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 11,400 Feet (3553.6 Meters)
Length, One-way: 3.5 Miles (5.83 Kilometers)
Ti Topo Maps: #126 Holy Cross, Ruedi Reservoir
USGS Maps: Mount of the Holy Cross, Pando




Satellite and Topo Map




General Description

Creek crossing on the Holy Cross City Four-wheel Drive Road
Copyright: - US Forest Service
Creek crossing on the Holy Cross City Four-wheel Drive Road
INTRODUCTION
Welcome to one of Colorado's most infamous roads. This historic stage coach route to the ghost town of Holy Cross City has quite a past, and includes some of the most spectacular views and challenging driving anywhere.

At one time, the rugged city of Holy Cross boasted more than 1,000 residents. This is quite a feat if you consider the location. From a starting elevation of 9,300 feet above sea level where the ghost town of Gold Park once existed, the road climbs steeply to over 11,400 feet in a mere 3 1/2 miles.

This road is not for the faint of heart or scared of heights, either, since many of the tougher sections require serious sidehill driving. In the city's heyday in 1800, Holy Cross was proud of it's two gold mills which processed ore from 30 mines in this area.

It is truly amazing to see all of the heavy equipment that was dragged to this location considering how hard it would have been for wagons and horses to get here. This area has also recently regained it's notoriety by being within one mile of the crash site of an A-10 air force bomber in the Spring of 1997.

TRAIL TIPS
Holy Cross is extremely challenging and should be attempted by experienced drivers with modified vehicles only. Hi-Lift Jacks, a fire extinguisher, extra clearance and locking differentials are basic requirements for this road.

If in doubt, hike it first. It's only about 3 1/2 miles. Because of the bouncy rock road, most drivers lower their tire pressure to between 10-15 PSI, but be sure you still have clearance. Although short in mileage, this road takes most vehicles a full day from the trailhead. Allow adequate time, since this road is much more difficult if you find it took longer than you thought.

NOTE: This road is used to reach the city and to return! Be aware of vehicles headed in the opposite direction!

Directions from Vail: Follow I-70 to the Minturn exit (#171). Turn right (south) from the off-ramp onto Hwy. 24. Follow Hwy. 24 south approximately 11.5 miles from I-70 to the turn-off on the right (west) side of the road. This is the start of Homestake road, number 703. Follow this two-wheel drive dirt road approximately 8 miles to the trailhead on the right (west). The trailhead is identifiable by the parking lot in front of a "road of rocks", the only pullover like this on Homestake road. The road follows the rock road without any side spurs to confuse you until about 2 miles from the trailhead, where a spur to the left (south) drops downhill to a two-wheel drive access road, a point to note in case of emergency or a changed mind (if you need to use this access road, it loops around to join back up with Homestake road, just stay to the left at all intersections). Continue making progress up the road and you will be rewarded by the river crossing, the most challenging obstacle on this road. Most small vehicles will find that crossing the river on the left (south) side easier, while some long bedded vehicles enjoy the right side. Note that usually until mid-June at the earliest, the river crossing is not passable due to high water! Immediately after conquering the river crossing, take the left road (there is a "Y" without a sign). From this point, you are about a 1/2 mile from the destination... Holy Cross City. Enjoy the road from this point, and be sure to follow the foot path to the cabins. Backtrack on the same road to complete your trip.

Directions from Beaver Creek: Follow I-70 to the Minturn exit (#171). Turn right (south) from the off-ramp onto Hwy. 24. Follow Hwy. 24 south approximately 11.5 miles from I-70 to the turn-off on the right (west) side of the road. This is the start of Homestake road, number 703. Follow this two-wheel drive dirt road approximately 8 miles to the trailhead on the right (west). The trailhead is identifiable by the parking lot in front of a "road of rocks", the only pullover like this on Homestake road. The road follows the rock road without any side spurs to confuse you until about 2 miles from the trailhead, where a spur to the left (south) drops downhill to a two-wheel drive access road, a point to note in case of emergency or a changed mind (if you need to use this access road, it loops around to join back up with Homestake road, just stay to the left at all intersections). Continue making progress up the road and you will be rewarded by the river crossing, the most challenging obstacle on this road. Most small vehicles will find that crossing the river on the left (south) side easier, while some long bedded vehicles enjoy the right side. Note that usually until mid-June at the earliest, the river crossing is not passable due to high water! Immediately after conquering the river crossing, take the left road (there is a "Y" without a sign). From this point, you are about a 1/2 mile from the destination... Holy Cross City. Enjoy the road from this point, and be sure to follow the foot path to the cabins. Backtrack on the same road to complete your trip.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Accessible: Late June through October (NOTE: Seasons vary depending on water level at the creek crossing and snow depth) .



Current Conditions & Trip Reports
Snow conditions exist late into the summer season. This road is not gated closed but is considered one of the most difficult 4-wheel drive roads in Colorado. A winch maybe required in places to haul your vehicle up. Snow patches may be encountered and muddy conditions. Very steep and rocky. Many huge rocks. Potholes. Mud bogs. Updated: 2001-05-16 11:11:00.0


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Filed By: MJ (Monument, CO)
Number of People Encountered: 11-25 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: A handful of good challenges for the OHV, the most serious being crossing French Creek. There are two good winch anchors in the rocks that make the lift up possible. Coming down this section is a diff smasher if you don't have a good line and/or spotter. The rest of the road is moderate.
Conditions: Wet and muddy. Slick rocks made the smaller challenges more interesting.
Water Availability: Water everywhere.

Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: GREAT road! Three stock vehicles to the second chalange. Got mine to French Creek. Did not try to cross as I was the only one left, but I believe I could have made it give time. Will try again soon.

Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Neutral
Report: Oh my back hurts. My bike hurts. My gear shift is bent. I suddenly realise I'm a lousey rider. Knowing how to pop up my front wheel to drop it on boulders would have helped. I would have gotten there faster by walking. Mediocre riders stay home.

Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Neutral
Report: This road received way too much activity during the summer of '99. The adopting club requests that we give Holy Cross a rest. Please do not schedule any trips for this road for 2000.



Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Four-Wheel Driving
Yes
ICON ATV Riding
Yes
ICON Motorcycle Riding
Yes



Related Activities
Blodgett Campground - Blodgett is a small campground, with six sites, located in the Homestake Valley south of Minturn.

Gold Park Campground - This small campground is located in the scenic Homestake Valley, south of Minturn at an elevation of 9300 feet.

Homestake Road - The Homestake Road is an improved dirt road which runs up the scenic Homestake Creek Valley to Homestake Reservoir. It accesses numerous trails and three campgrounds.

Hornsilver Campground - This small campground sits at the mouth of the Homestake Valley, along Hwy. 24 south of Minturn, at an elevation of 8,800 feet.

Upper Eagle River General Forest Area - The Upper Eagle River General Forest Area includes most of the area from Minturn, south to Tennessee Pass.



More Information
Frequently Asked Questions
Email the Local Ranger

Visitor Information:

Holy Cross Ranger District, 24747 US HWY 24, P.O. Box 190 , Minturn, CO, 81645, Phone: 970-827-5715, Fax: 970-827-9343

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