Shelf Road, Phantom Canyon

Total Miles


2966.45 ft


4.5 Hours

Technical Rating



Best Time

Summer, Fall

Trail Overview

This is a popular, heavily used network of trails that starts just south of Cripple Creek and takes you on a ride through history. See old mines and historic towns. A number of 4X4 roads leave from Shelf Road west of Sand Gulch Campground, and near The Banks Campground, a well-known climbing area. Make sure to visit Red Canyon Park for the unique red rocks. Unlicensed vehicles may ride on the side roads, but are not allowed on the main loop.


Easy. Phantom Canyon is a car road but has a few narrow, high spots. Shelf Road is rougher, steeper and narrower but can be done in a high-clearance, two-wheel-drive SUV when road is dry. Check status before you go as roads sometimes close due to washouts.


Phantom Canyon follows an old train route that once connected Cripple Creek and Florence. At its peak in the late 1890s, the traintransported over 230,000 passengers. The curved bridge you cross was originally a wooden railroad trestle, which was destroyed by fire in 1896. It was hastily rebuilt as a steel trestle and later converted to automotive use. The modern bridge pictured above was completely rebuilt in recent years. Kiosks along the route explain much of the history.

Technical Rating


Access Description

From Highway 24 in Divide, head south on Highway 67 to Cripple Creek. Pass through center of town on Bennett Avenue to bottom of the hill. Turn left on Second Street. Go 0.2 mile and turn right on C.R. 88. If you prefer to drive Phantom Canyon first, continue following Hwy. 67 (2nd St.) through Victor, then follow signs south to Phantom Canyon.