by Colin M. Graham
Private / Tom Arthur
96WY Nestled just outside the town of
Saratoga, Wyo. Cedar Creek Ranch sits on a high sage-covered
flat. The elevation is high and the runways are short,
making this a dangerous airstrip for anyone that doesn't
know the particulars.
Tom Arthur, who resides in Tampa, Florida,
has a ranch here and currently flies a new Cessna Caravan in
and out of this 2,000-foot strip. According to Tom the strip
is not maintained and is used by himself. For anyone else it
is open for emergency use only.
There is another runway listed, but it is
only 800 feet in length. Don't come here, you probably won't
make it back out in one piece.
Private / Crystal Lakes, Inc.
25CO Crystal Lakes likes about 60 miles
northwest of Fort Collins, Colorado. The elevation is 8,400
feet and usable runway length extends to 3,800 feet. The
airport manager reports that it is fairly flat with the
exception of a single hump about halfway down the runway.
The immediate surrounding terrain is basically treeless, but
there are forests located about 300 feet out on any given
side of the airstrip.
As a resort, Beaver Meadows Resor Ranch
offer day, night and extended-stay activities for the
The strip is being used for a resort
community that boasts 1,700 available properties ranging in
size from 1.5 acres costing about $40,000 for a 5-acre
parcel. The resort lies about one-half mile from the
airstrip. There are about 600 homes spread out over the
5,000 acres the resort owns. There is no line of sight
between the runway ends. Currently no aircraft are based at
the airstrip. It is used by homeowners or their guests.
The manager notes that most departures are
to the west with a quick left turn into the North Fork
Valley. Turning right up Panhandle Valley will "trap you,"
he said bluntly. There is also an 80-foot rock outcropping
to watch out for on the east end of the airstrip. Try not to
catch 'Big Bertha's' hips onit.
Visitors are welcome if you call ahead
Don Weixelman, Crystal Lakes, Inc. –
Mrs. Hoge sure is a nice lady. We talked
briefly about her airstrip located in Colorado. Her husband,
Mervin, passed on and they no longer use the airstrip
(information current as of 03-11-2005).
Airport elevation is a whopping 8,000 feet
in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. There
are two runways, north/south and east/west. Both are 4,700
feet in length. At one time the runways were "mowed like
golf courses," but they haven't seen blades in more than
The airstrip was built in 1991 as a "cool
summer place" to escape the hot Arizona sun. There is no
specific ranch on the property, but at one time they kept a
travel trailer on the edge of the strip where they stayed
four months at a time. The airport is surrounded by USFS
land on three sides and both runways have grades that
probably prevents line-of-sight between the runway ends.
Land to the south or west.
Mrs. Hoge is interested in selling the
property and intends to list all 177 acres for sale for
approximately $1.6 million. I would not land here if the
grass is more than 3-4 inches high (you might not even be
able to locate the strip).
For Mrs. Hoges' phone number send me an
Public / NPS
L06 Perhaps the lowest airstrip in the
country, Furnace Creek is by all means "backcountry." The
elevation is negative 211 feet and the temperatures often
soar to 120/130 degrees Fahrenheit. It's owned and
maintained by the Park Service and used quite frequently by
the Furnace Creek Resort located one mile north. It has a
3,300-foot paved and lighted runway, 18/36. Both approaches
are wide open. Be sure to watch the altimeter as it drops
through "0." Avgas in March 2003 was $3.60/gallon.
Stop in anytime ... with full tanks of
There is another airstrip in Stove Pipe
Wells and Shoshone to the north and south of Furnace Creek.
Private / Scott Geary
CO65 Now this was an
interesting phone call. I attempted to call Scott for a few
days before finally getting to talk to him when he returned
my call after seeing a strange phone number on his caller
ID. Scott Geary happens to be in the same business as my
family, car washing. We talked a ton about that and finally
got to the airstrip part. Scott owns a Cessna P-210 and
flies from his ranch just north of Westcliffe, Colo. The
airstrip is one-way in and one-way out with a 3-percent
grade uphill to the west. It lies at an elevation of 8,300
feet. The main gravel runway extends 4,000 feet. The terrain
around the airstrip is basically cattle pasture, but if you
fly too far west you will hit a 14,000-foot mountain.
Scott said a go-around can only be made to
the north. The main reason he built his airstrip is that
years ago there was a dirt airstrip down in the valley. It
didn't suit his needs, so he built his own. It is closer to
home too. Soon after completing the strip a gentleman bought
the old strip in town and turned it into a paved, 7,000-foot
airport, so he could fly in and out in a Learjet. Scott
decided to keep his strip. The airstrip is in very good
The airstrip is strictly for private use.
Scott would consider letting a pilot use it, but only if
that person calls him at 719-783-9331.
Ownership: Presbyterian Church of United
~ Closed indefinitely ~
50NM I visited the Ghost Ranch on a warm
December day in 2003 when I was in the area for a balloon
rally. I had heard of the strip years ago while using a
flight simulator. Until now I had been unable to locate any
information about the airstrip.
The airstrip is located on The Ghost Ranch
which was privately owned before being handed over the the
Presbyterian Church by the deceased owner's estate.
The ranch is very large, some 20,000 acres
and encompasses some of the most awesome scenery in this
region. The Church is currently making good use of the
property by running a year-round convention center for
church members to take some R & R in an area with towering
red rock cliffs, grass-topped mesas and the beautiful
Abiquiu Reservoir (nearly dry at the time of my visit due to
years of drought).
When the river was dammed and the reservoir
created, the highway that ran through the area was flooded
in different parts. The State of New Mexico abandoned the
original highway and made a new one east of the lake. The
State left several good pieces of highway between the lake
and ranch, long enough to become an airstrip, so that's what
it became – an airstrip that used to be a road.
At the time of my visit I was not permitted
to see the airstrip because it is closed and beyond several
locked gates. Only the ranch hands have keys. I was
persistent and asked if the ranch hands were around to show
me the way but the management of the ranch didn't seem to
like the idea. They did offer some more information. A
single hangar sits beside the runway and the runway itself
is still in usable condition but it is closed to all
traffic. The ranch personnel said they have had some trouble
with people landing on it anyway.
So the Ghost Ranch no longer has an
Trivia: The movie "The Missing" with Tommy
Lee Jones was filmed entirely on location at the ranch and
the nearby Jemez Mountains.
UT65 I talked to a council
member of the tribe and she told me the basic facts. The
strip was built in 1977 to enable people to fly in and out
of the village of Ibapah, a ranching community located about
65 miles south of Wendover, Nevada.
There is a runway, but no taxiways or
buildings. The council member states the strip was rather
rough and they had patched it not long ago. It extends for
3,500 feet and is paved. There is transient parking
available and tie-downs along the side of the runway. There
is no windsock and very few trees. The approaches are open
even though there are some hills and houses in the area.
Chuck McCown of Beehive Power visits
frequently and claims they basically "keep it up." The
runway is currently in "real good" condition according to
McCown. The airstrip lies close to a military restricted
area. There is some debate as to whether or not the north
end of the strip is within the area. Contact Clover Control
on 134.1 or 118.45 airborne or 801-777-7575 by phone. They
normally grant permission to operate in the area.
McCown mentioned there is a 50-foot radio
tower about 300 feet west of the airstrip. He also confirmed
the approaches are wide open. There are some weeds growing
through the cracks in the asphalt, but otherwise it is in
The airstrip is listed on
PRIVATE but the council member told me it was PUBLIC and
open to everyone. The road from Ibapah to Wendover is paved
and takes about 40 minutes to travel. Enjoy this strip, it
could be a nice place to stop.
No ID This airstrip is ...
well, no one has confirmed that it exists. It is not on any
charts since 2002 and the only reason I think it exists is
because the 2002 AIR/FAR book about SFAR over the Grand
Canyon mentions the "North Rim Airstrip."
A quick call in March 2003 to a local pilot
confirmed the strip is no longer active and was closed about
10 years ago. He claims the NPS now uses helicopters. He
said the strip was not very "pilot or plane friendly" when
it was open. It bowed in the center and both ends were high.