Rio Grande County Highpoint Trip Report

Bennett Peak (13,203 ft)

Date: September 6, 2005
Author: Adam Helman

Note: All NAD27 UTM coordinates are in zone 13S.

This effort was part of a larger journey collecting Colorado county highpoints in early September 2005.


The driving approach is this effort's "crux". Having just climbed both Summit Peak and Conejos Peak the previous day, John Hamann and I were positioned for the southern approach to Blowout Pass.

The road distance from FR250 north to Blowout Pass is 4.0 "Adam truck miles", where one such mile is defined as a mile on my truck odometer. It is roughly one-sixtieth more than a standard, statute mile. This reading obtained for both the uphill and downhill (return) portions of the drive - so eliminating wheel slippage from providing a fallacious value.

The first 0.5 mile is flat and level, passing by numerous private residences. There follows about 1 mile of steep road as it sidehills counterclockwise around the east flank of the local terrain. One definitely requires high clearance for this section - with four wheel drive being quite handy.

Once past this road mile you are home-free to proceed clear to the pass as the road becomes less steep; less narrow; and there are very few places to turn around or park anyways. This statement assumes that snow is not an issue.

I parked just north of a gate and literally within a center fielder's throw of the pass itself.


The hike to Bennett Peak's summit is trivial from Blowout Pass. FT700 drops about fifty vertical feet as it rounds the north slopes of nearby Sheep Mountain. This drop occurs immediately prior to the junction of FT700 with summit trail FR805.

Thereby the total elevation gain for this route exceeds the net gain by about one hundred feet.

Once on top the enormous San Luis Valley was a parade of alternating brown and green squares. Later I read that it is the driest high elevation valley in the nation. Regardless of this generalization's veracity, from the checkerboard pattern the valley is clearly a major regional farming area.

I had forgotten in my haste to carry one-half of my snack food. Fortunately the hike is sufficiently brief that hunger was never an issue.

John announced his intention to head home after this hike - so suggesting that special attention be given to the summit photographs.