Culebra Peak Route Guide | A Unique, Great 14er
Of the 58 named or ranked Colorado 14ers, only Culebra Peak is privately owned. Some appreciate the closed access as it ensures solitude and an off-trail, bushwhacking adventure on the peaks’ standard route (unlike any other peak). Other argue the peak should be public property just like the rest. Regardless of your views, if you want to climb Culebra in the short term, you’ll need to contact the ranch (Cielo Vista Ranch) and pay a $150 fee to climb the peak July through September. Plan your climb once you’ve got your permit here with my Culebra Peak Route Guide.
Culebra Peak Route Guide Fast Facts
Culebra Peak Route Guide - Northwest Ridge
After checking in at the Ranch Office, head up the 4WD road towards the upper trailhead (they’ll supply specific directions and instructions). At the upper trailhead you can park and set out on one of two options. Either take and old road to start or cross the stream before heading up towards Culebra’s northwest ridge.
The more popular route involves crossing the stream just past the trailhead and continuing up the drainage up towards the ridge.
The alternative route continues up the slope here as well further to your left, meeting the ridge before turning towards you.
Nearing the ridge, turn right at a large cairn marking the ridge proper. You still have over a mile left to reach the summit. This is a good place to stop and check the weather conditions before continuing.
From this vantage point you can see most of the route ahead. Be wary of a large false summit looming ahead, there’s plenty scrambling left for you beyond it.
Nearing the false summit, stay on the ridge proper as you near it and climb directly over the top.
Beyond the false summit you can see the entire remaining route ahead of you. Continue falling the ridge (or just to the right of the ridge) as you head towards the final summit crux.
Near 13,900 feet you face your final 150 foot scramble to the summit, the crux of the climb. Pick your line up the stable rock and scramble up to the summit. Once you reach the top, enjoy your accomplishment!
Enjoy a summit beer or drink of water and be sure to get back to tree line before afternoon thunderstorms become problematic. I hope you enjoyed my Culebra Peak Route Guide.
Hiking & climbing 14ers is an inherently high-risk activity – do so at your own risk, and use the following best practices to help keep yourself safe. Good Luck!
- Research your route and bring a compass & topographic map.
- Check the weather forecast and stay home during inclement weather.
- Bring the Ten Essentials and the knowledge/skill to use them.
- Leave your plans with someone back home along with a detailed itinerary.
- Start early, and end early: Be back at tree line by noon to avoid lightning.
- Bring a buddy on your first ascent, preferably someone experienced.
Hiking, scrambling and climbing up Colorado’s high peaks are inherently high-risk, dangerous activities. There is a significant risk of injury or death, even with proper planning and experience. Those using my Culebra Peak route guide accept all risks associated with climbing 14ers and 13ers and do not hold this website or any information they obtain from it liable for any accidents or injuries that occur while engaging in these activities on Colorado’s high peaks. It is each hiker or climber’s responsibility to research their route carefully, bring the ten essentials, and practice other safe practices, though even these precautions do not eliminate risk and danger. Visit these summits at your own risk.
About the Author: Alex Derr
Alex Derr is a mountaineer and blogger based in Denver Colorado. He is working to climb Colorado’s highest 100 peaks, and the 20 tallest peaks in California. He created The Next Summit to share advice, stories, history & reflections from the Colorado Rockies & Sierra Nevada. When not climbing, he is managing the Communications strategy at Visible Network Labs.