OverviewBald Mountain is a low mountain made of sedimentary rock in Northwest Colorado. The mountain isn’t very high (in fact in my own opinion it is definitely a hill), but since it stands more or less alone it has unobstructed views. Rather than alpine, the mountain is a fairly barren “cold desert” mountain. The only other mountain or ridge nearby is the Godiva Rim to the Southwest. Strangely this mountain had something that appeared to be obsidian scattered in a few places, but where it comes from is a mystery since all other rocks appear sedimentary. The entire summit area is laden with fossils.
The weather is harsh and dry. Sunny skies predominate, but winter temperatures plunge to -40 or lower in the winter and rise to the upper 90’s in the summer. Nearby Maybell holds the distinction of being the place where the lowest temperature in Colorado was recorded at -61F (-52C). Summer temperatures have topped 100F (38C).
Vegetation is relatively sparse consisting of grass and scrubland, but the mountain holds a population of elk, deer, bighorn sheep, black bears, cougars, rattlesnakes, and other wildlife.
Since there are no cliffs or real obstacles to impede progress, the small mountain can be climbed from most directions, though part of the access is blocked by private land to the northeast. The summit register indicates 2-5 groups signing the log per year (mostly during hunting season) which makes this a popular mountain by Moffat County standards and my guess is that it may be the 5th most popular summit in the county (Moffat County is the second largest in Colorado).
Getting ThereThere are two main access routes here and both will be discussed briefly. Make sure to take a good map (the BLM maps are best since they show land ownership).
First, make your way to Maybell along Highway 40. Maybell is a booming and sprawling metropolis that is said to have up to 90 people now. If you’re tank is near empty, this is your last chance to get gas, so fill up.
With map in hand, drive north out of Maybell on Moffat County Road 19. After several miles, turn left on County Road 71. You cross a stretch of private land here, but as long as you do not stop on the private land you are allowed to use the county road.
County Road 71 meets County Road 22 right near the pass between Bald Mountain and Godiva Rim. Head a short distance north to a faint road to the right which takes off east right at the pass. In good weather and when dry this road is good for all vehicles. This is the best driving route to the Bald Mountain area.
From the west side of Maybell, take Highway 318 to just east of the crowded suburb of Sunbeam which has almost a dozen houses scattered throughout. There are two main routes that head to the Bald Mountain area from here. From just west of the Yampa River we took the route near the Gravel Pit. Maps indicate that this is County Road 2127, but it was unmarked? Anyway, with a map in hand follow this road north past Indian Rock and to the Redrock Springs area and there are a few minor junctions along the way. Do not stop in any of the private land along the way (most is public, but there are a few scattered sections of private land-see the BLM map). You will need a 4wd near Redrock Springs for sure. County Road 2127 has a weird junction at County Road 22 where you will make a hard left. Follow County Road 22 to the same pass mentioned above. This driving route might be a bit more scenic, but is much slower driving than the route from Maybell.
County Road 71S is probably a better route than the above, and is just west of the above driving route, but I’m unfamiliar with it.
RoutesAs stated, Bald Mountain can be climbed from every direction except from the northeast. We took the route from the pass to the southwest and along the southwest ridge. We called this ridge the Anthill Ridge because it has the largest anthills we had ever seen.
From the pass, follow the faint track up the ridge to the northeast. When the track leaves the ridge and heads north, leave the track and stay on the ridge heading northeast. There is no trail and there are some up and down sections plus some steep sections, but the country is open and there is no bushwhacking. After one final steep pitch you will find yourself on the rolling summit.
On the summit are three benchmarks from 1937 and a summit register. Enjoy the fine views and return the same way.
Red TapeThere is no red tape, but do not camp on private land.
CampingCamping is possible anywhere on the public land in the area. There is a nice campsite just SE of the trailhead and just off County Road 71 on the north side.
When to ClimbMay through early June is best. The roads are usually too muddy before early May or perhaps sometime in April in drier years.
This is the high desert with some of the widest temperature ranges in the country. As mentioned, in Maybell, temperatures have varied from 102 in the summer, and -61 in the winter. Summers are warm and can be hot. It can be in the 90's, and there are no reliable water sources on the mountain and there are many rattlesnakes. Winters are cold, and the winter extremes are sometimes ridiculously low here, plus no access roads are open. It may surprise some to here that the lowest temperature ever recorded in Colorado (-61), happened not in the high mountains, but at Maybell, at only 5920 feet elevation and right near Bald Mountain. In the winter months, temperatures of -40 are fairly common, without the windchill, but a snowmobile would be useful to reach the trailhead since the 15 miles each way slog along the county road wouldn’t be too fun.
September and October can have pleasant temperatures as well, but Northwest Colorado is a popular hunting destination. If you go then, you may want to wear blaze orange just to be safe. November often isn’t too bad either and can be a great time to climb.
Mountain ConditionsCLICK HERE FOR WEATHER FORECAST FOR BALD MOUNTAIN
Weather and climate data for Maybell at 5920 feet elevation is below. *National Weather Service Data 1958-2004.
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