It seems that most hard core “wheelers” know the name “Carnage Canyon”. Most associate the name with a trail located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, near Buena Vista, Colorado…although there are other “Carnage Canyons” throughout the country…even one in Kansas located at the Kansas Rocks Off Road Park.
For this trip, we are going to focus on the trail located near Buena Vista. For many, this trail is extremely challenging, and it changes just about every year due to the snow and water runoff that takes place through the canyon. I have been through the trail quite a number of times as both a driver and passenger in a variety of rigs…and there are challenges no matter what you drive…I promise!
Rigs with full body panels will struggle to keep them off the rocks…mostly through a couple of infamous sections of the trail known as the “V Notch” or “Can Opener” and the “Exit”.
Carnage Canyon is a very short trail and is only slightly longer than a mile in length but is so difficult it takes the club several hours to traverse. You will not want to drive this trail unless you are led by a spotter that is very famliar with the obstacles on this trail. Do not confuse this trail with one outside of Boulder with the same name, which is significantly easier. The BV in the name is used to indicate this is the Carnage Canyon Trail outside of Buena Vista.
While the entrance to the trail is very intimidating it is not the most difficult obstacle on the trail. Heed the sign at the beginning of the trail, that your vehicle needs to have at least 35 inch tires, lockers, a winch and a spill capture kit to travel this trail.
The signature obstacle of the trail is a significantly sized v notch that is appropriatley called the Can Opener. If you do not traverse this obstacle correctly a rock will perform a can opener type operation on your vehicle.
By far the most difficult obstacle on this trail is the exit. The exit of the trail used to be a 8 ft sheer rock wall that required all vehicles to be winched out of the trail. This rock wall has been worn down on its right side significantly over the years to the point that now the most radical of the rock buggies can climb the loose dirt and Volkswagen sized boulders out of the trail. Everyone else will still need to winch out of the trail.
The purpose of this article is not to scare or intimidate anyone! But, it seems that lately we are inundated with folks showing you how EASY or SIMPLE things are…and I’m ok with that if the trail really is, but don’t be fooled! I’ve been on this trail with some of the best I know…the BEST…spotters, drivers and very capable rigs. Do not take this trail lightly…PLEASE. If you are planning a trip out to this area please don’t let these images change that! It’s an AMAZING place, but bring the best that you have. Enjoy the images. Study them. I’ve included a variety of vehicle types and wheelbases to give this some perspective. I love this trail and it should be on every “extreme wheeler’s” bucket list.
By the way, you can also view these images on ModernJeeper’s SmugMug Site!