Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Echo...Echo...Echo Basin.

The Echo Basin Road (CR 44) is a north turn from Highway 160 about 3 miles east of Mancos; it's one of those roads that Roy and I always said we would "find out where it goes" one day.  Follow the paved road until it splits; bear to the right and go around the Echo Basin Ranch and Resort and continue until the road splits again.  Now this is where the fun is really going to start as you have two choices; left to FR 331 or right to FR 566.  Roy and I chose FR 566 for one simple reason, it did not look as rutted and muddy as FR 331.  This was the early spring when we were there, and snow was still on the road here and there; it got worse as we climbed higher on FR 566 and eventually had to turn back.  Now when the weather is warmer though, the snow has melted and the roads are completely clear and dry; the options increase.  Camping on one of the side roads you'll pass; one of the camping spots on FR 566 itself; hike the trails or just keep on driving till you can see Mount Hesperus (13,232 feet high) itself.  One of the camping spots we passed by reminded me of a mini-Stonehenge by the way the stones were arranged around the obviously burned area which must have been a fire pit of sorts.

Weber Reservoir

You will pass Weber Reservoir on the way to the FR 331/FR 566 split; stay on the northern portion of FR 566, as it becomes a loop around Burnt Ridge.  You'll be on the eastern side of Burnt Ridge, but have a western view of Montezume Valley, Mesa Verde and Sleeping Ute Mountain.

Ramparts Hills

The Ramparts Hills are an igneous rock outcrop;  the forest on top of the Ramparts is a mixture of Ponderosa Pines, Junipers and Gambel Oak.  As you climb higher up FR 566, you'll notice many meadows, Scrub Oak and Aspen trees.  The only animals we saw were a couple of squirrels playing "chase me" around a rock outcropping, but the information sign stated there were Lynx in the area and I would have loved to have seen one of those.

The most impressive views are of the mountains; you'll see Gibbs, Burwell, Spiller and Babcock Peaks before finally reaching Mount Herperus.  Mount Hesperus is the highest peak;  it is sacred to the Navajo; can be see as far away as northeastern Arizona; and covered with snow ten months out of the year.  However, with all the snow we began to encounter as we climbed higher, we decided that sliding off the edge of the road into the canyon below was definitely not on our "to do" list for the day, or ever.  We intend on trying again now that the weather is warmer; and finally go down the southern end of FR 566 to complete the loop.


After turning around and heading back the way we came, we found that the horses for Echo Basin Ranch were out grazing. The Ranch offers horse back riding, and these creatures are beautiful.  That is certainly one thing I immediately noticed once I moved out here, not just the horses, but even the cattle, are so well cared for.  Their coats are gorgeous and the physique shows health.  Back in Pennsylvania, the horses and cattle we saw at the various farms looked bone tired, dirty and basically ready to give it up and drop dead.  What a difference!

There you have it, a little side trip through the forest and up into the mountains.  It was spontaneous and it was a good time; the making of a good memory.

Mary Cokenour


  1. I am from Missouri. We travelled to Echo Basin in July '15 and brought our horses with us to ride the trails in this area. Beautiful country! Echo Basin is mainly known only to locals, so we were thankful that a friend from NM suggested this area to us.

    1. glad you were able to experience Echo Basin, it is a beautiful area!