Black Bear Road in a Stock 80?

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate
links, including eBay, Amazon, Skimlinks, and others.

May 23, 2011
Castle Rock, CO
I'm taking my new 80 to Slee for some axle work this Thursday. I'm planning a trip to Ouray, CO in late June, and am pondering if I should go ahead and have them install the 2.5" OME lift that I was planning for later this summer.

To help me make an informed decision: Anybody tried Black Bear Road in a stock 80? I know it's not so much the clearance on that trail, but the OMG factor of the drop offs while bouncing along. Also, anybody tried in an 80 period? The signs at the bottom of the trail strongly recommend a short wheelbase vehicle because of the switchbacks, but I've seen pictures of big off-road tour vehicles taking the trail.

Advice, anyone?
I wouldn't hesitate to do Black Bear in a stock 80. Just watch your lines. If you can afford the lift, you might do it and then you can do more trails with confidence. I have not been over Black Bear in an 80, but have done it in a lifted j**p cherokee. The lift was not necessary. I know some guys who claimed they did Black Bear in a 2 wheel drive Ford F150. Not advisable, but doable.
I did Poughkeepsie last year in my 80 and wouldn't have made it without lockers. It is the tougher trail in that area but it is not as well known. Will not hesitate to do Black Bear this year if I have the chance to go back. I have a 2.5 ome lift and last year had 285/75/16's.
To me the real question you should ask yourself is: Are my brakes good?
I did it a few years back in my my stock 80. I had 33x12.5 tires on aired down to 20psi though. The hardest part (I thought) was going down the steps. The steps are extremely steep and require all brakes to the floor and a parking brake pull as well. Even with all that the vehicle still was sliding a bit on the loose rock (major pucker factor). All the kids play station toys and everything else ended up in the passenger floor board. The switch-backs are nothing except for doing several 2 to 3 point turns. You pull up to far, you go over (spotter recommended). Here's a pic after going down the steps. You probably won't be able to go on black bear until 1st week or 2 of July.
July 2008 Colorado trip 069 resized.JPG
was just in ouray, yes there is lots of snow went to the top of redmountain pass to look at black bear to c if we could even break through any snow, the sign was still under snow! ophir was open because they plowed it, imogene sign was under snow still, yankee boy was open as far as they plowed, corkscrew was closed but we did go up brown mountain rd which was to the left of corkscrew and had to break through lots of snow! most stuff wont open till late unless they plow
Wow. Cool pics! We'll play it by ear once we get down there at the end of June.
Just remember that they used to do Black Bear with horses and mules in front of a wagon. Too many independent minds with very low IQ's (the horses and mules) for my tastes. The drivers had to have some serious courage and confidence back then.

At least a few years ago, almost any stock 4x4 could make it down.

should be fine. I did it last summer . . . . .course mine isnt a stock 80, but I could have done it in one

In a stock 80, you can do Bill Moore, Slaughterhouse Gulch, Jenny Creek & Red Cone

For other trails, the lift and sliders are needed before anything else along with the tcase skid plate. Then you could do trails like Chinamans Gulch and Spring Creek without worry.

Front bumper and bigger tires if you want to do Holy Cross or others like that
Stock is fine. You might need a towel near the steering wheel to keep your hands dry if you are good at imagining all the possible outcomes of something bad happening to brakes. Easy trail, just high pucker factor. Great views, though!
comp view black bear pucker point.jpg
comp switchback.jpg
Stock is fine. You might need a towel near the steering wheel to keep your hands dry if you are good at imagining all the possible outcomes of something bad happening to brakes. Easy trail, just high pucker factor. Great views, though!

My guess is your pictures are old because BBP is like a freeway compared your pictures and 20 years ago. I believe this is the same corner today.:meh:

I did in a 100% stock 100 series picture.

Keep in mind BBP normally does not open before 4 of July weekend.
Hmmmmm. Looks like maybe it doesn't even open until the end of July, according to Black Bear Road - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. It also gives details on the 2WD F250 story. It's on the Internet, so it must be true!

So, other than Black Bear Pass, are many of the 4WD roads around Ouray typically open by the end of June?
I've been down Black Bear with a Crew Cab pickup (and my stock 80). Black Bear is mostly hype & folklore - it's not a very difficult trail at all, but the scenery is second to none.


My guess is that by the end of this June you'll be lucky if Ophir Pass is open. That is usually the first one the forest service clears for the summer.

Already stated but yes an 80 can do most any of the trails in the San Juan's in stock form. My first trip down Black Bear was stock including the OEM Michelin LTX's and side steps. Picture right below the "scary part" if you can call it that.
Last edited:
Last edited:
Last edited:
some of the early switchbacks can be done in reverse to lessen the multi point turns
Jeebus, x10 on the brakes. I did the cabot trail in NS (paved but with a lot of switchbacks) before changing all my hard and soft brake lines. Brakes blew on me 3x in the following year while just driving around town so I could picture if they were to go trying to get down the mountain..... Check your lines especially where they pass by the gastank/frame and the short ones on the front axle.

Wicked pictures guys!

Did BB a couple of years ago in my stock 62 with well worn street tires and it was fine but the steps were a little nerve racking. Ned

Users who are viewing this thread

Top Bottom