The Stage 3 fire and access restrictions to the San Juan National Forest have been rolled back to a Stage 2 condition which means access to the forest is once more open to the public. However, fire conditions still remain high and we are currently in the middle of a strong heat wave. Consult current regulations with the San Juan NF before planning any trips. Fines for violations are significant.
The trailhead may be reached from either Telluride or Ouray. It will be a longer drive on 4WD road from Ouray. Either access requires 4WD with good clearance. The Imogene Pass road is generally far better than the Black Bear Pass road, but should not be underestimated. Local jeeping groups rate it a class 4 or 4.5 out of 5 classes. There's still plenty of rocky sections, tight curves and narrow sections with drop-offs. We would not recommend longer bed pickups or similar vehicles. We have driven this road several times in the past with a Jeep Cherokee Sport and once up from Telluride with a Toyota T-100 pickup.
From Ouray, drive south out of town on US550 to the first switchback (about .4 mile) and watch for the turnoff for the "Camp Bird Road," (Ouray County Road 361). Drive on graded dirt to the well-marked turnoff for Imogene Pass near five miles in from the highway. On the Uncompahgre NF map, the Imogene Pass road is labeled as 26B. On Trails Illustrated #141, it is listed as FR869. Proceed up the pass, stop and admire the view at the summit, then drive on down the Telluride side to the Tomboy Mine ruins. About a half mile past Tomboy is a road that angles off to the right. Park here at the coordinates provided above.
From Telluride, the turnoff for Imogene Pass is near the center of town. Drive into town on HWY145 which becomes W. Colorado Ave. Turn left onto N. Aspen St. and drive 2 blocks. Turn right on W. Galena St. and drive 1 block. Turn left onto N. Oak St. and drive one more block. The graded dirt "Tomboy" road takes off to the right. Follow this spectacular road as it rises high above Telluride, and winds through different drainages and varying forest. It will be a slow 3 - 4 miles to the coordinates provided above for the vehicle park, where a road angles off to the left. Just past the turnoff, the main Tomboy Road crosses a creek and just beyond there are the ruins of the Tomboy Mine. From the Telluride side, this road is labeled "K68." On Trails Illustrated map #141, it shows as FR869.
For this access, there are a limited number of camp spots as you drive up the first few miles of Ouray County Road 361. One spot is called "The Angel Creek Campground," followed by the "Thistledown" campground. (See links below) Be careful regarding private property. In past years, we had been able to car camp in the vicinity of where the Governor Basin road turns off from the Yankee Boy Basin road. This may no longer be allowed. Then, there's a good campsite if you're able to drive up the Governor Basin road at one of the switchbacks at about 11,360 ft. at these coordinates: N 37° 58' 37.52" W 107° 45' 42.57"
Link to Angel Creek CG http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/gmug/recreation/camping-cabins/recarea/?recid=32524
Link to Thistledown CG http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/gmug/recreation/camping-cabins/recarea/?recid=32818
From the Telluride side, there's really little good camping close by. There is a designated campground at the "Town Park" located on the east end of town, but good luck finding an open site. Your best bet may be sleeping in your vehicle near the trailhead and/or around the old townsite of Tomboy.