Essentially an easy 2nd class peak from any of several approaches covering mostly rocky terrain with some tundra, BUT, because of private property issues, may be difficult if not legally impossible to access. Can be easily reached from Culebra Peak. Check the "Trailhead" section for more information regarding the Cielo Vista Ranch property. 4WD or higher clearance required.
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 a couple 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. To access Whiskey Pass, you would continue east on L.7.
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, 11,220 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.
UN13,229 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 other possibilities, all depending on what the Cielo Vista Ranch will or will not allow. We are sequencing UN 13,229 and UN 13,565 together, so typical mileage and elevation gain rules will apply. The detail route begins with the 4WD vehicle park at 11,670 where the trail for Culebra takes off from. See the "Trailhead" section for driving directions to that parking area.
From the 11,670 vehicle parking, it is possible to reach UN13,565 and UN13,229 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+. We have received a second hand report of some climbers who were allowed access up Carneros Creek from the Whiskey Pass Road. That could be another way of gaining access to this area. On GE you can see a road that heads up this way for some distance.
Back to our suggested route, head north and gain elevation to the ridge that overlooks Carmeros Creek 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, utilizing the sparse trees. 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. There are reports of a trail you may be able to connect with on the north side of the valley. 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 east-west ridge between 13,229 and 13,565 at some point, which you can then follow to the summit of UN13,229 on fairly easy, mostly tundra terrain.
It's also possible to reach UN13,229 from Lomo Liso by way of a crossing of the upper reaches of Bernadino Creek and avoid the rugged ridge section north off Miranda. From Lomo Liso, walk SE, then south along the ridge crest to a saddle just north of Pt. 12,952. Begin descending SSW into the drainage, round a broad ridge at about 12,200 ft. and find a break in a cliff band and steeper slope that allows you to drop into the open valley. Hike, trip and scramble over a boulder field to a small lake at 11,660 ft., then ascend into a small basin immediately west of UN13,229. Continue over boulder type talus to the saddle west of the summit. From the saddle, hike ESE along the ridge crest to the summit navigating the loose, broken rocks & boulders to the rocky little summit. Class 2+. Because of all the boulder-hopping, this route really saves no time or effort compared to following the main ridge south over Miranda, then on to UN13,565, then over to Un13,229, but it does get you into some pristine country where we observed two coyotes feeding upon a der they had stashed.
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 11,670 where the trail for Culebra takes off from. See the "Trailhead" section for driving directions to that parking area. This would be the highest elevation you can drive to. See UN 13,229 for directions to the first part of this sequence.
From the summit of UN 13,229, walk down the SE running ridge that connects to UN 13,565. The initial descent will be on mostly tundra. As you approach the saddle and begin the 665 foot ascent to UN 13,565, the terrain will change over to rubble and small to medium boulders. Continue to the summit. For the descent, head back to the SW descending on mostly tundra slopes wherever you can. At one point you may end up in a tundra/rock-filled gully. Once off the steep terrain, enjoy more pleasant tundra hiking over to Carneros Lake. From the lake, head NW down through the trees, then back out of the trees for another nice meadow at 11,600 ft. Continue following Carneros Creek on the north side, then cross the creek about .8 mile past the lake at about 11,400 feet before the creek entrenches some. Sizable willows may impede progress. Pass through more forest and then arrive at a boulderfield, generated by the rocky cliffs above to the left (south). At a small pond located at about 11,200 feet on the USGS map, start looking for a way back up through the steep slope to regain the ridge overlooking N. Vallejo Creek and the Culebra trailhead. If you've left some cairns from your trip in, hopefully locate them and retrace your route back up and over the ridge above.
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 that point, 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.
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