View Full Version : Bonanza Off Highway Tour Route

07-11-2015, 11:03 AM
When I first came to Colorado back in 2011 I spent a little time in the Bonanza Off Highway tour route with a group of folks exploring some of the area, Otto Mears Toll Road and Whale Hill. Since coming back to Colorado last year I wanted to visit the area again to do a little more exploring. As I had the day off before the 4th of July I decided to go back and explore the area, that and to avoid the traffic on the 4th. So Thursday after work I headed on out to camp at OíHaver Lake campground, I had reserved the last campsite just a few days before.

View of OíHaver Lake Friday morning from my campsite.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v681/tbox/Bonanza%207-3-15/P1100485%20Stitch%201280x653_zpsumyygprf.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/tbox/media/Bonanza%207-3-15/P1100485%20Stitch%201280x653_zpsumyygprf.jpg.html)

Otto Mears Toll Road
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On the opposite side of the pass the trail eases up but due to recent storm events there are a number of trees that had fallen across the trail. The forest service or some other group had come though and cut the trees into pieces that crossed the trail but there are still plenty of other fallen trees across the trail that you just barely skim under in some sports. ** Warning** Anyone with a RTT, roof rack loaded with gear or a tall lift would have a bad day trying to fit under the trees/branches. I have a little bit of a lift and the factory roof rails on my 4runner would scrap against the low hanging branches. This would be the case on Alder Creek trail latter on.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v681/tbox/Bonanza%207-3-15/P1100549%201280x960_zps8j5dgy1l.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/tbox/media/Bonanza%207-3-15/P1100549%201280x960_zps8j5dgy1l.jpg.html)

By the time I had gotten up and over the pass and down into the Bonanza area the skies had opened up and it began to rain. I had considered just going on ahead and leaving since I didnít know how long the storm was going to last but I stuck it out and about 30-45 minutes after it started it ended and the cleared up.

During which time I made a quick stop at the Cocomongo Mine and Mill. Thereís a No Trespassing sign on the building so you can only view it from the outside.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v681/tbox/Bonanza%207-3-15/P1100571%20Stitch%201280x700_zpstyiuvkjg.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/tbox/media/Bonanza%207-3-15/P1100571%20Stitch%201280x700_zpstyiuvkjg.jpg.html)

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v681/tbox/Bonanza%207-3-15/P1100590%201280x960_zpsjhw7xhtc.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/tbox/media/Bonanza%207-3-15/P1100590%201280x960_zpsjhw7xhtc.jpg.html)

Once the rain stop I headed out on Alder Creek trail and back to highway 285 but before stopping at a couple of old mining sites.

Old Cabin at Exchequer site
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v681/tbox/Bonanza%207-3-15/P1100556%20960x1280_zpsbykahg7h.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/tbox/media/Bonanza%207-3-15/P1100556%20960x1280_zpsbykahg7h.jpg.html)

Rawlins Mine
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v681/tbox/Bonanza%207-3-15/P1100609%20Stitch%201153x1280_zpsheux2qev.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/tbox/media/Bonanza%207-3-15/P1100609%20Stitch%201153x1280_zpsheux2qev.jpg.html)

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v681/tbox/Bonanza%207-3-15/P1100610%20Stitch%201108x1280_zps27auparf.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/tbox/media/Bonanza%207-3-15/P1100610%20Stitch%201108x1280_zps27auparf.jpg.html)

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v681/tbox/Bonanza%207-3-15/P1100648%20Stitch%201280x725_zpsk2d7f2ls.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/tbox/media/Bonanza%207-3-15/P1100648%20Stitch%201280x725_zpsk2d7f2ls.jpg.html)

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Out on Alder Creek
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v681/tbox/Bonanza%207-3-15/P1100671%20Stitch%201280x772_zps4lt87ve1.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/tbox/media/Bonanza%207-3-15/P1100671%20Stitch%201280x772_zps4lt87ve1.jpg.html)

Quick detour on the connecting route between Alder Creek and Whale Hill, the first time I ran the trail you could see the connecting trail because it was overcast.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v681/tbox/Bonanza%207-3-15/P1100679%20Stitch_zpsyua1mpba.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/tbox/media/Bonanza%207-3-15/P1100679%20Stitch_zpsyua1mpba.jpg.html)

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v681/tbox/Bonanza%207-3-15/P1100690%20Stitch%201280x489_zpswe4zi44g.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/tbox/media/Bonanza%207-3-15/P1100690%20Stitch%201280x489_zpswe4zi44g.jpg.html)

Shawmut and Legal Tender Mining areas.
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View from atop Round Mountain (hiked up the trail here, it was wet and lots of loose rocks which wouldíve made the steep incline interesting to drive up)
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v681/tbox/Bonanza%207-3-15/P1100740%20Stitch%201280x248_zpsptipqn1w.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/tbox/media/Bonanza%207-3-15/P1100740%20Stitch%201280x248_zpsptipqn1w.jpg.html)

After exploring the area I pulled over into some trees and grab a bit to eat. As there was no one on the trail I could enjoy the peace and quite without the sounds of a dirt bike, ATV or side by side in the background. Headed back on out about 30 minutes later to complete Alder Creek.

I believe this one is Colorado Belle, again this one has a No Trespassing sign up so you can really only view it from the road.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v681/tbox/Bonanza%207-3-15/P1100762%20Stitch%20994x1280_zpsq2mgvyjo.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/tbox/media/Bonanza%207-3-15/P1100762%20Stitch%20994x1280_zpsq2mgvyjo.jpg.html)

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v681/tbox/Bonanza%207-3-15/P1100769%20960x1280_zpsiysbvn0i.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/tbox/media/Bonanza%207-3-15/P1100769%20960x1280_zpsiysbvn0i.jpg.html)

I think this is Morning Star mine but Iím not sure.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v681/tbox/Bonanza%207-3-15/P1100801%20Stitch%201280x1169_zps7p3t4mvo.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/tbox/media/Bonanza%207-3-15/P1100801%20Stitch%201280x1169_zps7p3t4mvo.jpg.html)

Shortly after Morning Star I arrived back at hwy 285 and headed back home but not before running into 2 Jeeps in which one of us had to pull to the side as the trail is only wide enough for one vehicle in most spots, with the first group of ATV/dirt bikes right at the trail end.

Overall, it was a great day to get out and do some more exploring.

07-11-2015, 11:21 PM
Very cool historical sites. How do you get there...are they numbered forestry roads?

Edit: found it on traildamage.com.

Interesting fact: Otto Mears lived to be 91 years old. That is incredible back then...1840 to 1931. I didn't think many people lived to be 60 back then?!!!

07-12-2015, 12:42 AM
Very cool historical sites. How do you get there...are they numbered forestry roads?

Edit: found it on traildamage.com.

Yep, that is how I originally found the area.

07-13-2015, 10:41 AM
Interesting fact: Otto Mears lived to be 91 years old. That is incredible back then...1840 to 1931. I didn't think many people lived to be 60 back then?!!!

I don't think it's as uncommon as is widely believed. You'll see stats that show that the average life expectancy was 45 -- but that usually includes all the deaths that occurred during childhood, which was very common because of disease. The life expectancy was much higher for the people who reached adult age. Of course, 91 is still a ripe old age even today.

07-15-2015, 03:14 PM
Never been in this area. Is it a day trip? Someone needs to arrange a trip for the club!!

07-15-2015, 03:41 PM
Never been in this area. Is it a day trip? Someone needs to arrange a trip for the club!!


07-15-2015, 04:15 PM
Wow, I haven't been up there since I was a kid! Good memories. Thanks for sharing, it is definitely worth the trip! Totally a day trip if you want, but very fun to do as a camping trip too.

07-15-2015, 05:18 PM
Wow, looks like an amazing area! Will have to check it out soon!

07-16-2015, 09:31 PM
Ya, you can make a day trip out of it but why make it a day trip when you can make a camping trip out of it.

Marshall Pass is also in the area.