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.
UN13,565 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 and a few hints regarding some other approaches. 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.
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. After enjoying the flatter summit and the typical, expansive view, return by the same route. The climb back out of Carneros Creek will be quite arduous. Round-trip time will likely be 6 hours or more.
Other suggestions: UN13,565 can be climbed from Culebra Peak. Descending NE along the ridge from Culebra, it will be rocky & slow to PT.13,701. Below there, is a section of slow going over tedious boulders and loose rocks. The difficulties will finally relent at the saddle . From there, it will change to a mostly tundra/embedded rock hike to the flatter summit area. Class 2+
If coming from the central ridge to the north, see the Miranda Peak description. From Miranda to UN13,565, you can expect fairly easy Class 2 with some rocky sections to navigate and some relieving tundra stretches.
UN13,565 can also be climbed from UN13,229 by the connecting ridge that runs from NW to SE. It goes at Class 2 with mostly tundra which gives way to more rock as you approach the summit of UN13,565.
Lastly, we have a report that a few years back, one group of peakbaggers were allowed to access Carneros Creek from the Whiskey Pass road by the ranch manager. This would be a significantly longer approach, if it had to be walked, probably about 14 miles round trip and requiring 4100 feet of elevation gain. However, a close examination on Google Earth shows a road heading up this drainage to at least 10,100 ft. and perhaps as far as 10,900 ft. Again, do not attempt unless you have both permission and clear directions from the ranch manager.
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