The Cielo Vista Ranch (translation - "View of Heaven") was previously known as the Taylor Ranch. Total acreage of the property now exceeds 83,000. Be advised that as of August 2017, the ranch property changed hands again and is now under the ownership of William B. Harrison. Any information provided here may change dramatically depending on the new ownership. The eastern boundary of the property is the central ridge of the Sangre de Cristo range from De Anza Peak in the north all the way to State Line Peak on the New Mexico border to the south. All of the land on either side of that central ridge is privately owned from Maxwell Mountain on south. Trespassers have been and will be prosecuted. As of the date of this writing, the only property owner allowing access is/was the Cielo Vista Ranch. One newspaper report indicated that the new owner did not plan to change the access policies previously held by the Cielo Vista ranch owners, but there have been some changes that do impact climbers. The property is a virtual wildlife preserve, rich in its diversity.
The main, current website for the ranch is https://cielovistaranchco.com/. There are three sub-pages that are relevant to climbers.
Some items to know up front:
Since all climbers must report to the main ranch headquarters, that location will serve as the main trailhead, however, Whiskey Pass can also serve as a trailhead, after you have registered at ranch headquarters. We will divide access as follows: Use the main ranch entrance and the 4WD road up to "four-way" as the TH for Purgatoire, UN13,466, Vermejo, Red Mtn., Culebra, UN13,565, UN13,229 and Miranda. Use Whiskey Pass as the TH for Lomo Liso, Francisco, Beaubien, De Anza and Mariquita. (Note that Mariquita is not actually on CV Ranch property.) We also have a report that indicates some climbers were allowed access up Carneros Creek to climb UN13,229 and UN 13,565. We have no specific information however in regards to that access. Also, for peaks other than Culebra and Red Mountain, Cielo Vista has required climbers to have a hand radio which the ranch supplied.
Driving Directions: From the small town of Ft. Garland, located on HWY 160 east of Alamosa and west of Walsenburg, drive south on HWY159 to San Luis - about 15.5 miles.
Turn left on the P.6 Road (4th street) and drive 4.0 miles to Chama.
In Chama, turn left on L.7 Road.
Drive 3.5 miles on L.7, across a bridge and immediately turn right on dirt Road 25.5.
Go 1/2 mile on 25.5 Road, stop, and turn left on M.5 Road.
Drive another 0.9 miles to reach the North Gate of the Cielo Vista Ranch.
The gates are usually closed and ranch representatives will meet you for an escort to the ranch headquarters.
Once through the north HQ gate, continue 2 miles to the ranch headquarters for check-in.
After check-in, reset your odometer and drive on an easy 4WD road to the upper trailhead. Stay right at about .1 mile and continue driving up the steepening road.
You will reach "Four Way" at 3.4 miles with ample parking, 11,250 ft. N 37° 08' 32.23" W 105° 13' 57.08"
You may be allowed to continue on to the highest point of the road at 4.4 miles. This is the upper trailhead and you may park near a stream. 11,670 ft. N 37° 08' 20.38" W 105° 12' 56.72"
The following directions are provided by the Cielo Vista Ranch on their website:
Find San Luis, Colorado. Begin in San Luis, at the Conoco station on main street. You will be driving southbound from Ft. Garland. At the Conoco Station, turn east (left). Drive 3 miles to stop sign. Right turn onto County Road 21. Traveling southbound on CR 21, proceed to County Road L.7. Left turn on L.7, you will be driving eastbound. Continue on CR L.7 to one of several county roads which go south from L.7. (Note that CR L.7 is also the "Whiskey Pass Road.") Each of these short roads will take you to County Road M.5, which parallels L.7, about 200 yards to 500 yards south. Take one is these roads (CR 22.5, 23.5, etc.) south to CR M.5. Left turn on M.5 sends you east. Continue east on M.5 until you reach the large heavy green steel gate, which is the entrance to the North headquarters of Cielo Vista Ranch. Watch for local dogs which are roaming the streets and county roads in the area, at will!
To get to the Whiskey Pass road, once you have reported to ranch headquarters, reverse these directions back to CR L.7 which is the Whiskey Pass Road and head east. The road is drivable by 4WD to about 11,500 feet as reported by Dave Hahn. Once you are back onto this road, the distance to the end of the road will be over 10.5 miles. An overnight camp was allowed. Dave also reported that when he drove to Whiskey Pass in his own vehicle, he was accompanied by ranch personnel driving another vehicle. When you are done climbing peaks off Whiskey Pass, you will need to return to ranch headquarters to report out.
The following link has some interesting history regarding this overall area:
Unless the ranch owners grant permission to camp on their property somewhere (which is unlikely), there is no close camping available, however, they do state on their website that climbers may camp just outside the main gate if needed.
Francisco Peak is part of the vast Cielo Vista Ranch which is all private property. The ranch property line extends down the west side of the central ridge of summits that stretch all the way from De Anza Peak in the north to State Line Peak in the south. You can download a Google Earth map of the property by going to this link and scrolling on the right down to the GE map link: https://www.mirrranchgroup.com/ranches/cielo-vista-ranch/. Permission must be obtained to access any of these peaks. For several decades now, the owners of this ranch property have been the only ones to allow access to these high peaks. CF&I Steel owns some of the land on the east side and has never agreed to any access and will prosecute trespassers. Policies by the ranch owners have varied in the past regarding access to which summits and routes to them. Before attempting any peaks, make sure you have a clear arrangement with the Cielo Vista Ranch owners/managers. See the "trailhead" description for more details.
Francisco Peak from Whiskey Pass: This is probably the most likely access to be granted and also the easiest to this summit. Assuming you can drive in 4WD vehicle to the car park for Whiskey Pass at 11,520 ft., you can attempt two possible routes that will eventually converge to take you over at least one other 13er summit in order to reach Francisco. Option 1 is to hike further up the old roadbed and then head straight east for Whiskey Pass. This will require some route finding to locate the best access with the least amount of scree, rubble, etc. Likely a Class 2+ scramble at points. From the pass, you would then turn south and hike up the additional 600 feet to the summit of Beaubien on rocky but not difficult terrain.
Option 2 would be to hike south from the car park to a saddle at the head of the drainage. If you stay in the middle of the valley, there will be the tongue of a rock glacier that spills down from the cliffs below the saddle to navigate. Dave Hahn reports this rock glacier as consisting of difficult, "tippy" boulders. Class 2+. If you stay west of this rock glacier, you can find tundra to hike on but this will bring you out further west on the ridge that connects over to UN12,810, in which case, you may want to go ahead and tag. Back at the saddle, easily walk east up along the ridge to the summit of Beaubien. This is where the two possible routes will converge.
From the summit of Beaubien, walk on easy tundra with embedded rock and small scree south toward Francisco Peak. At the SE end of the main Beaubien summit area, the USGS quad shows a very small, closed, 13,000 ft. contour line. Right in that vicinity, there's a nice flat bench area on the east side where the ridge line blocks the winds from the west some, there may be a snowbank for water and flat spots for a tent. If the ranch manager allowed it, it would be possible to make a high camp here. From Beaubien, you will drop about 500 feet in elevation to a saddle, then regain about 450 ft. to the summit of Francsico Peak. This segment is the Class 1 rating. In the summit vicinity, there's some rock outcrops to sit behind and help block the wind if any. High winds anywhere along the crest of the Sangre de Cristo are not at all unusual.
If coming from the south (Mt. Lomo Liso), then the route following the ridge over to Francisco is easy Class 1 walking as well on mostly tundra & smaller embedded rock.
The following link to a trip report on LoJ by "Furthermore" provides some more useful details and another possible way to clean out the peaks located on the northern section of the Cielo Vista Ranch. It is our hope that the ranch owner and manager continue to cooperate with climbers in this fashion. http://www.listsofjohn.com/tr?Id=1830&pkid=687