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Mt. Princeton Road Trailhead
Added by BillMiddlebrook

Location:  Sawatch Range
14ers Served:  Mt. Princeton
Road Type:  Easy 4WD, good clearance recommended. 3   (0=Paved, 6=Very Difficult 4WD)
2WD dirt to the lower TH. 4WD access to 12,000'.
Directions:  From Buena Vista: From the center of town, drive west on the County Road (CR) 306 for 0.7 miles. Turn left on CR 321 and continue south for 7.2 miles. Turn right onto CR 322 at a large sign. From South of Buena Vista: Over 5 miles south of the U.S. 285 / 24 junction, turn west on County Road 162 in the town of Nathrop. Drive over 4 miles to a junction. Turn right on CR 321. After 1.2 miles, turn left on CR 322.

On CR 322, drive 0.8 miles to a fork in the road. Bear right into the Mt. Princeton trailhead. This trailhead is at 8,900' and there is a large parking area. If you have a good clearance 4WD, you can continue up the narrow 322 (Mt. Princeton) road. Just after the lower parking area, there is a fork in the road - stay right on the main road. Drive 3 miles to the radio towers at 10,800'. There is parking here for a couple of vehicles or turn left and continue on the 322A road. Between 3.2 and 3.4 miles up the Princeton road, there are some small camping spots near 11,000' - with some parking. The road gets worse after the camping spots and there is very limited parking above this point.
Winter Access:  Closed at the lower TH.
14er Trailheads on Google Maps
Date Status Information Posted By  Photos  Comments Likes Dislikes    
2014-07-30 Drove rented Jeep Cherokee up to the radio towers. NO PROBLEM!!! Solo         
2014-07-10 I have a stock Jeep Liberty. The drive up to the radio towers is not too bad, I had my 4x4 on. However, use caution driving beyond this point. There is one rock between the cut-off of the trail and the upper parking area that is a doozy. It is fairly unavoidable, I hit it on the way down and did some extensive damage to my car. MCinCB         
2014-07-01 Made it to the camping parking area past the radio towers in my 2011 Honda CRV 4WD. Slightly lower clearance than Subaru vehicles but I was able to do it without damaging my car. Liquid Shadow         
2014-06-28 Made it up to the small parking area past the radio towers in my Outback. Traction control kicked in a few times, but it was do-able. nomsp         
2014-06-24 I camped at one of the campsites 3.4mi up the road just past the Towers. I was in a 4wd Toyo Sequoia. A 2wd SUV could probably make it. Going up in a Subaru would make me nervous. Lots of whoopdees and quite narrow. I didn‘t drive up that far, but it looked like a 4wd could make it all the way to the YL Chateau past the TH. addrock528         
2014-06-19 No trouble getting up past the radio towers in a tacoma 4 door. Some large dips that seem like they would be problematic for lower clearance cars. Very few places to turn around/let others pass. Theres a snowdrift after the last switch back that blocks the road (about a mile past the towers), but there aren‘t really any parking spots after this anyway SolarAlex         
2014-06-02 Clear to a mile past radio towers Trotter         
2014-05-18 Clear to the radio towers and slightly beyond. bergsteigen         
2014-05-03 Can drive to 10,400 (about 1/2 mile short of the radio towers). Yikes         
2014-04-21 Still almost the same as Vincopotomus reported below, deep snow drifts are .4 miles from the lower parking/TH. I walked past 3 snow drifts and saw only bulldozer type tracks on the Mt Princeton Rd. Eagle Eye         
2014-03-24 Dry to 2WD TH, then impassible snow about a 1/4 mile up the road. Vincopotamus         
2013-11-03 Still summer-like here, too. Someone may have moved a huge tree stump partially in the road (mentioned below) over a little. It does not interfere but looks like it has been dragged recently. I drove a xterra 4wd past the radio towers and to the end of the road. Eagle Eye         
2013-10-13 Drove 3.4 miles up Mt. Princeton Rd on 10/13 to park a little past radio towers. Snow from 10/10 had melted, but more snow came in the following day on 10/14. Added pictures of the stump on my way down and looking down driver‘s side door while driving past. Looks like the stump has claimed some vehicle damage. No problems making it past the stump in 2009 Touareg and a full size truck drove by the stump later that day, all the way to the end of the road. Without snow, ice, or rain, that road isn‘t too bad at all. fahixson  2       
2013-10-01 There‘s a stump on the road at about 10,000 on the way to the radio towers. I stepped off 8 steps from the stump to the edge where you would need to put your tire. dmdoug  1  1      
2013-09-05 We drove a KIA Sorento all the way to the 11,800ft. parking area in a raining/hail storm from hell. This about 400yrds. past where the trail leaves the road for the climb up to Mt. Princeton. The GPS said 12,000ft. But anyway it‘s the farthest you can drive a vehicle on a road up there. It is a long, slow 6.5 miles of one way, very narrow and, very few places to pass on road. So proceed carefully. Any higher clearence vehicle could make it to the top. The lower half up to the radio towers is the best section of mostly packed dirt. Above that is very rocky and tight. There is only room enough for a few vehicles to park easily, but the view from the upper parking area is UNREAL... bking14ers         
2013-08-29 Drove an Xterra to 11,000‘ with no issues- road was wavy, but otherwise great. Could have driven further, but parking is very limited (one person parked so far out on the edge, a good thunderstorm could have sent the vehicle for a 2,000‘ roll!). EKassan         
2013-08-05 We took my 2005 AWD Subaru Forester up to the radio towers. We actually drove up in the dark, and so I couldn‘t see exactly what I was getting myself into (both a good and a bad thing, I think). We only stopped at the radio towers because my car was emitting a rather strange smell after about 2.5 hours of straight driving from Aspen and we thought it would be best to stop where we knew we could park without a problem. There were a couple of times when I wished I had a little bit more clearance just to be certain I wasn‘t damaging anything, but overall I felt ok about driving the road. Just go slowly, and around some of the bigger potholes it‘s easier if you actually drive up on the side of the road rather than dipping into the potholes. It took us about 25 minutes to go up, and about 30 minutes to come down. Photo 1: on the upper portion, we walked this bit Photos 2 and 3: on the descent while driving sjverhaeghe08  3       
2013-07-03 Mt Princeton Road is completely snow free. It is somewhat rough and a 4wd is recommended. We drove a Honda CRV and had no problems. It took us about 25 minutes to get to the radio towers from the lower parking lot, but it was well worth it. We arrived at the Radio Towers (10,800‘) at 5:45 AM and no one else was there, even at 7:40 when we left to summit there was still parking (we got there so early we took a nap). As we walked 50 - 100 yards up the road from the radio towers we passed multiple other spots that could be used for parking. I am guessing there is room for six to seven cars at the radio towers and another six to seven just up the road from the radio towers. The first 1.5 miles of the hike is on that gravel road. Enjoy. Ramsey Boys         
2013-06-19 I drove my 1976 VW Baja Bug up the Mount Princeton Road, and stopped at the switchback below the radio towers. The road has some bumps that require decent clearance, but my car has about 8-10 inches, and I only scraped the back bumper once or twice. Also, this road is pretty steep, so you\‘ll need some power. No snow all the way up, but at about 10,500 on either side of the switchback below the towers, there is a large pothole, but can be avoided pretty easily. shaberer0511    4      
2013-06-08 Made it past the communication towers in my Subaru Outback, no problem. Road almost clear the whole way, but definitely until the switchbacks. See photos of snow drift blocking road up the 2nd switchback and check out how much the snow melted in just one day (see the wet ground)! Road was not passable this morning, but someone was able to drive across before I got back. MissH  2       
2013-06-01 Road to the trailhead (radio towers) is clear. dcvessey         
2013-05-21 Mt. Princeton Road to the campsites/pullouts above the towers is now open. After the campsites however, the road is still covered heavily with large drifts. BTW, the towers have a small helipad which is how they get heavy things up there. ThePopp  4  1    
2013-01-28 One can drive easily in a 2wd to the lower trailhead (parking lot). Road is a patchwork of mostly mud/dirt and hard-packed snow. Some ice. Roughly a mile and a half up, the road became all snow, again, hardpacked. The ice flow wasn‘t bad. However, as I left, it was snowing pretty hard with white out conditions. The snow, from this second punch, was a lot drier than the first storm only 24 hrs earlier. Whiteout conditions in town even. So, take this conditions report with a BIG grain of salt. Kiefer         
2012-12-02 The patch of ice below the radio towers was still there. It had perhaps melted a bit since the pictures from 11/23, but still not passable by any of the three parties on the mountain today. scootmanjones         
2012-11-24 Large sheet of ice on the road maybe 1/2 mile below the towers - don‘t try to cross, you‘d have serious issues trying to negotiate the way down. Other than that, snow free and just a bit bumpy, standard 4wd. speth         

Just past the switchback at the radio towers, these icy blocks block your path. (Added by: Aubrey on 2009-05-03)Not technical, but you need hi–clearance for erosion bumps. Few places to pass. (Added by: Aubrey on 2009-05-03)Not technical, but you need hi–clearance for erosion bumps. Few places to pass. (Added by: Aubrey on 2009-05-03)Going up the road Saturday 16 Oct 09  mid afternoon (Added by: ColoNativeinPA on 2009-10-20)1st Choice after Hot Springs (Added by: ThePopp on 2013-05-22)2nd Choice (Added by: ThePopp on 2013-05-22)3rd and last choice (Added by: ThePopp on 2013-05-22)

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