Round Trip Distance: 4.8 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 5119 - 5654 feet
Cellphone: 1-4 bars
Time: 1 hr. (mountain bike)
Trailhead: Bean Ranch Road
Fee: none
Attractions: Scenic views, multi-use trail

View Bean Ranch in a larger map

The Fee trail (as in Fee-fi-fo-fum) is located in the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area south of Grand Junction, Colorado. The unofficial trail makes a loop out of a couple of 4-wheel drive roads. From overlooks on the high cliffs above the Gunnison River there are views of Dominguez Canyon, Bridgeport, Tunnel Point and the Gunnison River. The area is open to all manner of conveyances from mountain bikes to horses and most anything else with wheels.

To locals Bean Ranch describes the area that can be accessed via the Bean Ranch Road. To get to the area drive about 4.5 miles south of Whitewater on Highway 50 and turn right onto the Bean Ranch Road. Follow the Bean Ranch Road over the hill. The pavement ends after 1.3 miles and the boundary to the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area comes up after another half mile. There is plenty of parking on the right after crossing the cattleguard.

From the parking area a three-way intersection comes up after half mile. Stay to the right and follow what we are calling the Beanstalk trail to the ridgeline above the Gunnison River corridor.

We have been coming out to this area for years. There are canyons and interesting rock formations to explore and play around. A high clearance vehicle is required to drive most of the roads.

As the Beanstalk heads west it is one continuous climb but only a couple of the hills are very steep.

Stay to the right at 1.7 miles unless the desire is to cut the trail short. The road to the left connects to the road that loops back to the trailhead.

After another quarter mile the trail splits again. This is where the opportunities begin opening up for alternate routes. The road to the right heads back towards Kannah Creek along what we call Jack's Trail. Between here and Kannah Creek the road has a lot of branches with some of them leading to private properties and others leading back to the highway. There are several other forks in the road up to this point but for them it doesn't matter which way you go because they all reconnect after a short distance.

Heading south along the ridge on what we are calling the Giant's Trail another option presents itself where a side trail loops around a lower bench. We are calling that loop the Golden Egg.

One of the best reasons for coming here, besides the exercise, are the unique views of the area. From here you can see tunnel point, Bridgeport, the Gunnison River and Dominguez Canyon.

Tunnel Point is where the railroad takes a shortcut through the mountain. The other end comes out near Bridgeport where there is a boat launch for rafters and the trailhead for Dominguez Canyon.

Dominguez Canyon is popular for its petroglyphs and bighorn sheep.

For this post we continue south along the ridge to the first road that departs on the left. Continuing straight ahead leads to Tunnel Point as well as a couple of other roads that lead out to Highway 50. They can also be followed back around to the Bean Ranch Road to make even bigger loops.

Staying to the right at the next fork sets up the downhill stretch back to the trailhead. The left fork reconnects with the uphill route at the fork that we pointed out coming up the Beanstalk at the 1.7 mile point. There are some petroglyphs along that cliff that we wondered whether they could have been made by a Spanish priest or someone with similar affections.

Parts of the downhill run are a little rough giving the trail a real 4-wheel drive feel.

We were on our mountain bikes for this one although we have hiked it in the past. We have probably done more hiking out here than anything else. A lot of the time rather than sticking to the roads we like to explore the washes and canyons. We have also ridden dirt bikes out here, sticking to the roads of course. Whatever it is that you like to do the Bean Ranch area is a good place to play. There is no water so bring plenty. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is grab your favorite toy or 'Take a hike'.