Culebra peak - 14,047 feet
Culebra, (“Serpent” in Spanish) with an elevation of 14,047 feet is the highest summit of the Culebra Range, a subrange of the Sangre de Cristo (Blood of Christ) Mountains in southern Colorado. The snake-like ridge-line for Culebra gives its name true meaning as it winds its way to the summit. The privately owned Cielo Vista Ranch (“View of Heaven”) opens its gates to hikers anticipating an experience that no public land can offer. The scenic journey begins in your vehicle traveling several miles through beautiful aspen groves as you make your way to the trailhead. The sun flickers through the trees highlighting the beauty of the experience.
The path you choose is your own and may take you across small streams and across the ridge where an occasional elk, mule deer, or bighorn sheep can be seen as well as many other types of wildlife. Once your hike begins it is evident that this mountain is like no other. With lush vegetation and no defined trail guiding the way up the mountain, one can really become captivated by the beauty and undisturbed environment that surrounds this range. A rare jewel to find, enjoy the freedom of making your own way up to the summit. Once reaching the summit enjoy the heavenly view of other nearby peaks including Red Mountain which can be accessed quickly from Culebra Peak.
Before descending back down, jump over and experience Culebra Peak from a different perspective by hiking one of Colorado’s 100 highest peaks: Nestled behind Culebra Peak you’ll find the summit at Red Mountain with an elevation of 13,908 feet. With the convenient access to Red Mountain from Culebra, hikers have the ability to hike both in one day. These two peaks will leave you breathless as you fully experience nature in a way that takes you through some of Colorado’s best and most secluded high country.
Current weather and trail conditions
Today June 2, 2023 The 4 way is open for vehicles to park as long as we do not get a lot of rain. Last weekend was the first weekend that the road to the 4 way was open in order for people to park.
The trailhead parking still has snow that could make it dangerous if the snow turns to ice.
Climbing and hiking will become accessible every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from the first weekend of January through the last weekend of July.
The fee to climb Culebra and or Red Mountain is $150.00 per person. This helps cover costs of maintenance and allows us to maintain the natural, untouched beauty of the hike.
Reservations may be made in advance during the winter season: we start accepting reservations in December for both winter and summer climbs. Winter climbs start the first weekend in January.
Your reservation may be canceled by Cielo Vista Ranch staff at any time or prior to the trip, due to unsafe weather conditions. A member of our staff will contact you to discuss safety conditions and cancellations. If in the event that your reservation cannot be rescheduled, a refund will be made. (Please see refund policy.)
There is no climbing or hiking in August through December due to hunting season: sorry for the inconvenience.
PLEASE NOTE: Depending on snow conditions, climbs earlier in the season (before June) may start from the headquarters unless a safe parking area can be reached.
Please bring a picture I.D. to verify reservations on the morning of your scheduled climb. Failure to have any I.D. may result in you not being allowed on the property.
The peak does have cell coverage, so if you have a spot tracker or cell phone, do bring them along on your hike.
Hikers/climbers must sign out of Cielo Vista Ranch no later than 6:00 pm. If all climbers have not signed out by 6:00 pm, we consider this an emergency situation and will begin following search and rescue procedures. Any climber that fails to sign out when leaving the Ranch or leaves the Ranch after 6:00 pm agrees to make a $100.00 contribution to The Costilla County Search & Rescue, per the waiver.
Culebra Peak offers a unique climbing experience. Unlike any other Fourteener in Colorado, hiking impacts are largely absent – Culebra is essentially “untrailed.” In order to preserve its pristine condition, please follow these climbing guidelines and procedures.
Climbing guidelines to reduce impact
Ascend and descend on a different route, and disperse while hiking. To protect sensitive alpine plant communities, avoid hiking single file or along existing trampled routes.
Try to step only on durable surfaces such as rocks to protect sensitive alpine plant communities while hiking. Don’t walk along the edge of melting snowfields or other areas where the soils are wet. Many alpine soils are over 5,000 years old, and alpine plants grow very slowly in the harsh climate and short growing season on Fourteeners.
Refrain from feeding wild animals or picking wildflowers: leave what you find.
When relieving yourself, please bury all human waste below the treeline, not in the tundra.
Pack out all the material that you carry in. For additional information, please refer to this guide to leaving no trace.
USING GOOGLE WILL GET YOU LOST.
Given the early start time of 6AM for hiking, many climbers arrive the night before and car camp just outside of the Cielo Vista Ranch gate. Vehicles are not allowed in the property until they drive up to the headquarters the morning of the climb, because it is too easy otherwise for people to get lost.
Those who have already sent in payment and their waiver are also permitted to tent camp. There is a designated camping area just inside of the property, adjacent to the gate, which can be accessed by simply climbing over the fenced area. While there is no water source at the campground, there is a portapotty for use. If tent camping, you can leave your tent set up while hiking so the moisture can dry off before packing up at the end of the day.
Campfires are only allowed if there is not a fire ban in effect and so long as proper precautions are taken. Such precautions include: having at least a gallon of water and/or a shovel to put the fire out, making sure the area around the fire is cleared of debris, and making sure the fire is completely extinguished– including all embers– before leaving it permanently unattended. While fire bans have been in effect for the last few summers, all of our winter climbers have been able to build campfires.
Cielo Vista Hiking Refund Policy:
If the Ranch cancels due to weather or other emergency situations, we will contact climbers to reschedule. If rescheduling is not possible, we will fully refund your fee.
If a Climber cancels with more than 72 hours we will reschedule if there is availability on a different date, otherwise a refund will be issued. If a climber cancels with less than 72 hours of the climb there will be no refund or rescheduling, unless the climber provides proof of exigent circumstances, such as a serious illness/injury, a family tragedy, or natural disaster.
When a reservation is rescheduled, it can only be rescheduled during the current climb season, if there is something available. Rescheduling can not be rolled into the following year.
We do not allow reservations to be transferred, as we have a long waiting list. So if you are unable to attend, you cannot send someone in your stead.
Winter climb information:
Due to the inherent dangers of a winter climb, we reserve the right to cancel access to Culebra and/or Red Mountain at any time, including the day of climb.
Of course, climbers will be offered to reschedule their climb in these situations, or will be refunded their fee, if that is not possible. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding as we work to ensure all visitors have an enjoyable and safe time on Cielo Vista Ranch.
Climbing and Hiking FAQs
Please read through our frequently asked questions before booking or contacting us.
Climbers are required to be at the North Headquarters gate by 6:00 AM. Once climbers drive through they will drive to the headquarters for instructions. If climbers are not at the headquarters gate by 6:15 AM the gate will be locked, and that person forfeits his/her spot for the climb.
No, everyone is let in at the same time to be checked in at the gate and briefed at HQ.
NO! No dogs or pets allowed on property.
Vehicles must be 4wd or AWD to access trailhead after HQ. Good clearance of about 8” recommended
$150.00 per person
No, camping is only allowed at Ranch entrance
If you arrive the night before and you car camp that is done on the outside of the property, if you set up a tent you can climb over the fence and set up your tent in the designated camping spot just inside of the fenced area.
Yes, tents can be left up until you return from the hike
No, there is no water source. There is a porta potty available.
A fire is okay as long as safety precautions are taken and no restrictions for Costilla County are set. That will include; having at least a gallon of water and/or a shovel to put it out, making sure the area around the fire is cleared of debris, and just making sure the fire is completely put out before leaving it permanently unattended. There’s not currently a designated area for a fire so you can use your best judgment for the location.
No, there’s rooms available in town at the San Luis Inn. Their number is 719-672-3399
No! We have a waitlist for those interested in climbing. Those interested are contacted when we receive a cancellation.
No, you can only reserve one day.
No! climbers are NOT allowed to take Mountain bikes,motorcycles, 4wheeler, or side by side. No off-road machines allowed.