Shelf Road and Phantom Canyon

Cripple Creek, Colorado 80813

Shelf Road and Phantom Canyon

Shelf Road and Phantom Canyon Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"The route starts just south of historic Cripple Creek, a major tourist attraction and gambling town. Many historic mining attractions can be seen from paved Highways 67 and 81 which circle through Victor and Goldfield. The loop described here is a longer and more rugged backcountry route and part of the Gold Belt Tour. Shelf Road offers many miles of rugged side roads that depart west of Sand Gulch Campground and Red Canyon Park and north of “The Bank” Campground.

Unlicensed vehicles are allowed on side roads but not on Shelf Road and Phantom Canyon Road. Rock climbers can enjoy “The Bank,” a popular climbing area. Red Canyon Park is a great family area with picnic tables tucked between dramatic red rock formations. Phantom Canyon Road follows an old railroad grade and has a rich mining history. Shelf Road is rough and steep in places. High clearance is helpful, but the road, when dry, can be driven in 2-wheel drive. You’ll feel more secure with 4-wheel drive when the road is wet. Phantom Canyon Road can be driven in any passenger car but is restricted to vehicles shorter than 25 feet. Both roads are susceptible to overnight washouts from major storms and may be closed without notice."

Shelf Road and Phantom Canyon Trip Reports

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This is more of an adventure than a scenic drive! It’s definitely not for the faint of heart. But, if you can handle a steep road with narrow curves that isn’t entirely paved, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking scenery of the Colorado mountains that is just incredible. You don’t have to have a 4WD for this road, though you shouldn’t venture off the road to any of the side trails without one. Don’t even think about setting out on this drive pulling an RV.

Shelf Road and Phantom Canyon Photos

Trail Information

Cripple Creek
Nearby City
Trail Type
4 to 5 hours
Spring through fall; when snow free
Colorado Atlas and Gazetteer; Trails Illustrated Pikes Peak, Canon City #137
Local Maps

Trail Log