Santa Fe Peak
Santa Fe Peak rises on the continental divide directly above the town of Montezuma near the town and ski resort of Keystone in Central Colorado. The east face of the Santa Fe Peak is drained by the Geneva Creek. A drop of water on the eastern face, will eventually find its way to the Atlantic Ocean. The western slopes of the Santa Fe Peak drop down to the bottom of the Snake River which drains into the Colorado River and the Pacific Ocean. To the south of Santa Fe Peak, you will find a series of 13ers that create a wall to the west of the Snake River Valley. North to south, these include:
1)Santa Fe Peak 13180 ft
Grays & Torreys
5)Peak 13214 ft
Santa Fe Peak can be accessed via an old mining road that survives to this day as a rough 4WD road. This road (which to me was very reminiscent of the Brown Mountain
Road in the San Juan Mountains) starts in the town of Montezuma and makes a long series of switchbacks in the pine forests and goes up above the treeline and all the way to almost the summit of the Santa Fe Peak (4.3 mile one-way, 2900 ft vertical). Just to the north of the summit, you will find a small plateau that sits at an elevation of more than 13000 ft.
From the summit of the Santa Fe Peak, you will have great views of the peaks of the Gore, Tenmile and Front ranges. The best view will undoubtedly be that of the twin summits of the Grays and Torreys Peaks to the northeast.
Named after the last Aztec emperor, the town of Montezuma sits at an elevation of 10300 ft by the Snake River at the base of the western slopes of the Santa Fe Peak. While from Montezuma much of the slopes of Santa Fe Peak will be in good view, the summit will not be visible. During the silver mining boom of the mid 1800s, the town reached its maximum population of 1000 people. Today, the population of Montezuma however, has dwindled down to only 42.
Getting There & Route
NOTE: Since the mountain can be climbed via a road, the route information will be included here.
Take Exit 205 off of I-70 to Route 6 and drive less than 10 miles southeast to the town and ski resort of Keystone. On the east end of Keystone, you will see a sign for Montezuma Rd (When I first drove into Keystone from the east/Loveland Pass, I did not see any signs for Montezuma Rd. I do not think there is any access to Montezuma Rd from westbound Route 6. The access seems to be only from eastbound Route 6. Please correct me if I am wrong). Drive the road a few miles to the end of pavement at the town of Montezuma which is nothing more than a few homes.
Don’t expect to see any signs for the Santa Fe Peak Road. As you enter Montezuma, you will see a stop sign (This might not be a permanent feature, the stop sign seemed to be resting against a barrel). Turn left onto an alley. This will be the beginning of the Santa Fe Peak Road.
I do not do much 4 Wheel Driving but I suppose with a Jeep you could drive the road all the way to the top. The road makes a long series of switchback in the pine forest going from Montezuma (10300 ft) to above treeline (11700 ft) where the crumbled remains of an old mine come to view. The road then reaches the top of a ridgeline at 12300 ft and goes onto the north slopes of the Santa Fe Peak. At around 12700 ft, the road seems to split. I suppose you could take either branch. I took the left branch. It went up to reach the 13000 ft plateau where the summit of Santa Fe peak came into view. You can then take any path to the top. The USGS map shows that the road ends at 13000 ft below the plateau but it does continue on the plateau to just a few tens of feet below the summit. The map does not show the mentioned split in the road either.
Santa Fe Peak
No fees/permits needed.