Road-to-Near-Heaven

Road to Near Heaven

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The road to the top of Mt. Antero in Colorado, which reaches a height of 14,276’, offers an amazing opportunity for any stock 4×4 Jeep vehicle. The road is rough and long (7.5 miles to the top), but the reward of views and scenery are well worth the effort.

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There are only a few of Colorado’s 14,000’ mountains that you can drive to the top of – or near the top – and the Mt. Antero road is one of the best. Although the road stops at 13,700’, it is still a great opportunity to be at the top of a 14er with little physical effort. However, make sure to start early in the morning to avoid nasty afternoon lightning storms.

Mt. Antero is the highest Colorado Mountain to be named after a Native American Indian. Neighboring mountains Tabeguache, Shavano, and Ouray are also American Indian names. Antero was the leader of the Uintah band of Ute Indians. Chief Antero was a proponent of peace between the Utes and the white men during the uprising of the late 1860’s and 1870’s, and he was one of the signers of the Washington Treaty of 1880 which led to the Utes losing most of their land.

To get there from south of Buena Vista turn west from US 285 on Chaffee County Road 162 for 12.5 miles to the Baldwin Gulch Trailhead. The trailhead is at GPS coordinates and is well marked: N38.70990 W106.29086

For the first 2.5 miles, the road climbs up Baldwin Gulch and you are accompanied by great views of Mt. Princeton to the south and the sub-peaks of Antero to the east and north. The road is roughly strewn with cobbles and it is advisable to air down your tires. Otherwise, be prepared for a bumpy ride. After 2.5 miles, the road breaks out of the aspen trees and you are greeted by a sign giving you a couple of choices (N38.68254 W106.27290). Take the left (east) fork and cross Baldwin Creek. In early season, the creek can be high and swift so get out and evaluate the creek carefully before crossing in a stock vehicle.

After crossing Baldwin Creek continue on the road for another 1.5 miles until reaching the notorious Antero switchbacks. The switchbacks are narrow and steep so the rule is slow and low (gear). Before starting the switchbacks, look up and check to see if you have traffic coming down so you can wait for them to pass. After the switchbacks, you’ll arrive at a fork in the road at N38.66257 W106.25595. Take the left fork and continue heading up the mountain. By this time, you are well above tree line and approaching the crux of the road. The last fork in the road is at N38.66217 W106.24975, and occurs at the base of the final push to the summit. Again, take the left fork and head steeply up the mountain. This final part is steep and narrow so take your time and use four-wheel drive in low gear. Before starting this section, again make sure no traffic is heading down the mountain.

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