Yankee Boy Basin is an alpine basin in Ouray County, Colorado in the United States and is located in the Uncompahgre National Forest. Speak these three words to any seasoned Colorado photographer and they’ll probably wax philosophical with you about their past visits to this popular wildflower haunt. No single place in Colorado defines the wildflower bloom and the budding anticipation of the season than this destination in the beautiful San Juan Mountains.
Nestled at an elevation between 11500 and 12000 feet, Yankee Boy Basin contains some of the most prolific stands of wildflowers in the state. Indeed, most photographers to the area plan their trips specifically so that they will be visiting this area during ‘peak season’. The basin itself is surrounded by several breathtaking peaks—Potosi Peak, Teakettle Mountain, Cirque Mountain, Stony Mountain, and Gilpin Mountain. Most are 13,500 feet or higher, standing high above the green-carpeted valley, the surrounding fields are filled with some of the most amazing flowers—even during an “off year”, this place will most likely amaze you if you’ve never seen it before.
Getting to Yankee Boy is half the fun. To get up into the basin itself you do need a four wheel drive vehicle. The first part of the road to Yankee Boy Basin is easy and very scenic. After several miles the good gravel road becomes a bit more narrow and challenging however. About halfway up to Yankee Boy, you cut across the face of a steep cliff with the river far below on your left. There are spots where one car will have to get into a pull-over to let the other pass. If you have trouble with heights it might be a good idea to let someone else drive this stretch. Once you come to Camp Bird the road gets a little narrower. At one place, you drive under a huge chunk of rock that overhangs the road. The turn off for Governor Basin is a good place to leave your vehicle if you don’t want to drive the last bit of more difficult road that goes up into Yankee Boy Basin.
There’s no denying Colorado is mountain country. To hike around Yankee Boy Basin and observe it, is to witness what makes the state of Colorado truly unique.
Taken with Canon 5D Mark II and Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM