With all the snow that has fallen, access to the high country will be a challenge for a significant part of the summer. If you have useful updates to road, trail or peak access, please post on our Facebook page. "Like" our FB page to receive email notices of new updates posted. Be prepared & be safe out there!
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. 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. The property is a virtual wildlife preserve, rich in its diversity. Under the previous owners climbing was allowed but arrangements had to be made in advance. A signed waiver was required along with a significant cash fee. The website for the ranch mentions that some limited winter climbing was allowed. The summer climbing season usually begins around mid-June and continues until about Sept. 1 when hunting season begins. The previous ranch website was: cielovistaranchco.com. They prefered to be contacted by email at: [email protected]. Climbing arrangements had to be made at least one month in advance. If you try to Google the ranch, there is currently a Google malware warning. If you become lost or injured while on the property, be advised there is no Costilla County Search & Rescue available.
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.
Miranda 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.
As with any mountain, there can be numerous "routes." In this description, we will provide detail regarding one specific route that wouold be the shortest and most likely to obtain permission to do. We'll also provide a hint regarding another approach. The detail route begins with the 4WD vehicle park at 11,700 where the trail for Culebra takes off from. See the "Trailhead" section for driving directions to that parking area. Much of what follows is copied from UN13,565.
From the 11,700 vehicle parking, it is possible to reach UN13,565 by dropping into the upper reaches of Carneros Creek. This is only a "suggested" route. If attempting to use this route, you should clear it with the ranch manager before attempting. We rate this hike as Class 2+. Head north and gain elevation to the ridge and cross at about 12,000 ft. From the crest, search out a way down the steep, north facing mountainside. Do not angle too far to the east as you descend or you'll get into rocky cliffs. Better to head more or less straight down. There are several shallow gullies, some of which lower down are filled with man-eating willows. Avoid at all costs. Hike down through sporadic trees wherever possible. This descent of about 800+ feet will be the most difficult part of this approach. Aim for a small pond on the map at the base of this ridge at just below 11,200 ft. Once you reach the valley floor, the going will be much easier.
Hike east up the valley and at some point cross over to the north side of the creek. You may find more challenging willows in sections. Make your way SE through forest, open meadow and forest again to the beautifully situated Carneros Lake. This is one of the most remote and seldom visited portions of the ranch. Chances of seeing elk and other wildlife are very good. Tread quietly. Above the lake, head east across mostly tundra, then NE, aiming toward the summit of UN13,565. You'll be going up the broad SW flank of the peak. Before beginning your ascent, you may want to search out the route with the most tundra and least amount of rock. This will tend to send you toward the UN13,565 - UN13,229 saddle. The initial 400 feet of gain up the flank will be the steepest. There's a rock and tundra filled gully that could be used, but if you see a better way, go for it. Ascend the tundra and rock slope and meet the west ridge at some point, which you can then follow to the summit on fairly easy, but rocky terrain.
From the summit of UN13,565, you can proceed NE along the snaking ridge crest toward Miranda. Along the way, you'll encounter one false, unranked summit of 13,396 ft. and you'll need to gain another 450 ft. overall in elevation. The ridge is never any more difficult than Class 2. The terrain varies from tundra to embedded rocks to rocky talus. It's never difficult. Generally speaking, the east side of the ridge crest is always the easiest with more severe drops and cliffs on the west side at points. Once you reach the summit, the most logical way back is as you came, along the ridge crest to UN13,565 and then back down to Carneros Lake for the final 800 foot ascent back out to your vehicle park. Leave some extra energy and time for that last climb out.
If coming from Lomo Liso to the north, you'll have an easy 1.25 mile of mostly tundra walking until you get to Pt. 13,247, with one minor section of boulders near Pt. 12,952. This last stretch of ridge to the summit of Miranda poses perhaps the most difficult stretch of the entire central ridge from Maxwell to Purgatoire. At Class 2+, a section of ridge directly north of the Miranda summit is composed of rocks, boulders, and stacked boulders, many of which seem ready to roll with only the slightest assist. Watch your step. The one factor that makes this stretch easier is that the local game have created something of a trail through this mess. Make full use of their trail and should get through without injury.
Final hint: It may be possible to access Lomo Liso and Miranda from the Bernadio Creek area, which joins Carneros Creek down lower near the Whiskey Pass road. Google Earth does show old roads/trails heading up Bernadino as well as Carneros Creek. Climbers may want to check with the ranch manager and see if access from this direction is allowed. As with any of the peaks on the Cielo Vista Ranch, do not attempt any of these routes without permission.
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