Near Battlement Mesa/Parachute, Colorado

Battlement Trail map provided by

    Many of you have whizzed by the small town of Parachute-Battlement Mesa (exit 75) on I-70 west on your way to Moab.  The mere mention of the Battlement Trail, and you know what you mean, especially if you've had the chance to run it.  The Colorado State Association rates the trail a 9 out of 10 dry and a 10+ wet.  Rocks and mud, rocks and mud, then throw in a steep hill climb, and add some more rocky and muddy sections, and there you have it…that's Battlement.  With lockers it's a blast---going stock would be a challenge.  The trail is an up-and-back, and it's the type of trail that keeps your attention all day on your driving, or you and your undercarriage will pay the price.

Heading west on I-70 with the setting sun...

    Over the weekend of September 15th-17th, Hobo Scott "Mad Max" Maxwell (TJ), and friend Edwin, and myself (CJ) with my jeepin' side-kick Molly headed out west on I-70 Friday night and arrived at the New Castle KOA (at exit 105) by 10pm.  New  Hobos Sean and Amanda Tallant (TJ) met up with us at the KOA early Sat about 7am.

    On Saturday September 16th, we were up with the late summer sun, and headed west on I-70 30 miles to Parachute and the trailhead of the Battlement Reservoir Trail.  I hadn't run the trail since 96' and 97', so I was anxious to see and run it again. The three of us got up the dusty county road to the trailhead about 9:00am and locked in.  Up ahead, the trail climbs thru groves of semi-changing aspens and spruce trees.  Little rocky sections along the way tease you on what is to come.

My earlier attempt at the "Rock Garden"...I still have nightmares!


    After climbing a bit, one comes upon the famous "Rock Garden" of Battlement.  Having done it 3 years ago, and remembering the bad vibes I took from it, I opted to bypass it this day (my undercarriage thanked me).  Sean and Scott were ready to tackle the rocks.  Picture a rock quarry with "boulder-sized" obstacles up to 3' high lined up in random fashion with many degrees of lines to follow.


    Scott was up 1st, and with his automatic, was able to pick and choose his line while crawling his way thru nicely. Scott and Sean showed great patience and control with jeep place-ability for maximum fun and safety.  Sean was up, and took great care in making it clean thru the boulders just as Scott did. Nice job, high fives all around.


"Mad Max" and his TJ this year crawls right along...while lookin' good too!


Sean had to work the clutch, and watch for rocks...Rocks? I mean boulders!


Sean later in the trip mentioned his steering was loose,

I wonder if this had anything to do with it?


At the top of the garden is a steep raven to cross...

    Moving up the hill, the trail throws more "mini" rock gardens at you.  One in particular was a field of moderate-sized rocks that were fun to negotiate (somehow one grabbed on to my diff and just would not let go!).  One rocky section after another keeps the your attention on the trail, as one little challenge after another rewards you with making the 2.5 hour trip from Denver.  

Lots of "Mini-Gardens" abound...


Sean crawls thru with ease, note the water and mud...


I on the other hand, had a rock come up and bite my

front diff (on the jeep), but I managed to get free...

    Up the trail, a rock section runs along a small creek, yes, more rocks.  One could not resist the challenge of a really big log to try one's hand at balancing.  We all took turns trying to keep both tires on it for the entire length of the log.  Scott's routine was almost a perfect 10 except for his dismount.

One cannot resist the challenge of balance...


Hobo Scott runs a perfect 2-tire stance the length of the log...


Hey look...More rocks!!  This trail is full of them! 

    The final stretch of the hill climb ran thru some nice golden aspens and contained some smaller rocks to climb at about a 35-degree+ slope.  We finally reached the top of the steep hill climb and had lunch with golden aspens and views of the Anvil Cliffs and the Rifle Valley below.

Pictures thru the windshield while driving don't show the true steepness of this climb...nice aspens!


Looking back down the hill is Scott and Sean right behind...


 Great views of golden aspens and the valley below for lunch...


   After chow, we moved on up thru a small meadow and back into the rocks again.  Small mud holes from 1' to 3' deep now dot the trail.  There are some go-a rounds on the deeper one, but most are fun to run thru. Scott Maxwell found out how deep one was by attempting to run it.


Mud?  Here's mud...and only getting deeper and deeper!


     After about 5 feet, and a quick attempt at backing up, the TJ was buried and mud water was pouring in (he had taken off his hard doors), as the mud line was about up to the front fenders. Sean pulled him out of the muck, and mud poured out of the exhaust as he started her up again.  After about 5 feet forward, and a quick attempt at backing up, the TJ was buried and mud water was pouring in (he had taken off his hard doors), as the mud line was about up to the front fenders.  Sean pulled him out of the muck, and mud poured out of the exhaust as he started his TJ up again.



Heck, it feels like there is a bottom...looked like a mud-puddle to "Mad Max"







Oh...ok new term---**MUD HOLE**!!

At least 3' deep, now-where are those hard doors??



    Now that we were all a little dirty, smaller mud holes were fun to play in, just like a little kid again.  The trail dished out mud hole after mud hole just to our liking.  On thru more rocky sections, (rocks and mud-remember?), and one part even ran thru a real rock field.  One change though, the big mud holes Battlement is famous for were closed and a road went around them up to the lakes.  We took a side trail to the upper lake and played with a ravine that flexed even the stiffest suspensions.


This "mud hole" is a sure bumper scraper for any rig,

Sean took his spare tire off for this one...


Mud, what mud?  It's not in my doors yet!

 Note the front tow strap (Just in case)...


This fun mud run I took on a previous trip was closed off when we passed by...

    Well, that was half the trail (50%) complete.  Yep, guess what--everything we just did--we get to do again, just backwards!!  Coming down the hill was different, and yes the same rocks were there just waiting for a chance to take a bite out of a diff.  It is faster going down, and we made it down and thru the many obstacles.

Beautiful golden aspens against a bright blue sky...

    Down at the trailhead we saw some wheelers getting a late (4:30pm) start, I assumed they were just going to the Rock Garden.  What a trail!  Battlement is all that it's advertised and more, you need to go try it.  Coming from a "conservative" mode of jeeping like myself, and not an real extreme jeeper-----------Battlement was (once again) a blast!

Bill Hallinan HoboJeepers

Here are some other Battlement Reservoir Trip Reports/Info:

Battlement Reservoir Trail Map by

Battlement Reservoir Trail by

Battlement Reservoir Trail by Bighorn 4x4's 

Battlement Reservoir Trail by Adam Melburg

Battlement Reservoir Trail on video by Sidekick

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