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Airstrip Junkies
by Colin M. Graham

Aspen Gliderport (CO03) – Aspen, Colorado

There is no specific information obtained on this strip. The Flight Simulator shows the airstrip sits on top of a bluff about a mile or so northwest of the main Aspen airport. Airnam reports "airport closed until further notice." It has been there for many years and is probably overrun with vegetation.

From Ned Carter, Aspen: It is more or less still there. A bit overgrown, but one heck of a place for a simulated engine failure. Ha ha. There is also John McBrides' grass strip in Old Snowmass, then southwest of Carbondale there is another strip that is closed, but in an emergency...any kind of flat area will do. Then of course there is the Marble grass strip.

Photos by Colin Graham

Any info e-mail Colin Graham -



Athanasiou Valley – Central City, Colorado
Private / James Athanasiou

Elevation 8,900

CO07- Athanasiou Valley airstrip is an 'emergency use only' airstrip. It has not been used in over 30 years according to it’s owner. He claims to have kept it on the charts for emergency use only. He did not say whether anyone has had to use it or not. He went on to say it’s a big field and full of weeds, 2000-feet long and about 200-feet wide, at an elevation of 8,900 feet. One of America’s highest airstrips, aging in the Front Range winds.  For all intents and purposes, this airstrip is closed and you’ll be better off considering it as such.

No Images Available

Barker Creek Ranch, NV31
Round Mountain, Nevada
Elevation 6,600

Strictly Private / C. Coleman

NV31 - Located about 6 miles north of Round Mountain, Nevada. The Barker Creek Ranch airstrip sits awaiting its only pilot and owner to once again fly. The runway is in poor condition and is a chip-seal surface extending for 1,350 feet at an elevation of 6,600 feet – one of Nevada's higher airstrips.

It lies on the east side of Big Smoky Valley and has a 7.5-percent grade to the east. Again, it is one-way in, one-way out. The owner points out the grade equals about 4.5 degrees off flat. He also calims simply that "it's VERY steep." Mr Coleman has never let anyone else land here and doesn't plan on doing so in the future due to the dangerous nature of the airstrip. There is absolutely no go-around. You either plant it on the firs try or you 'bite the dust.' (Satellite image - click to enlarge)

Big Island – Orofino, Idaho
Elevation 2,200

Private / C.P.T.P.A.

ID29 This airstrip is one of three owned by a company called Clearwater Potlach Timber Protective Association ( They are trying to clear underbrush to stop the many forest fires from devastating the North Central Idaho wilderness. This airstrip lies on a bluff about 1,000 feet over the Dworshak Reservoir. They own two other airstrips and own leasing rights to another, all within 30 miles from each other. Big Island is about 2,600 feet in length, downhill and mainly dirt. It has a rather dangerous approach and it is advised that one should land to the north and take off to the south.

Check and ask for the chief pilot. They may or may not give you permission.


Coyote Flats USFS – Bishop, California
9,989 elevation

Private / Closed

04CA Located at N37.2, W118.48 west of Bishop, California. Resting high above Bishop at an elevation of nearly 10,000 feet is Coyote Flats. Two years ago the National Park Service tore it up, but people still land on what remains. The history is a bit interesting. It was built in the 69s as a military high-altitude training airport for helicopters and airplanes.

Photo by James D Lawson (click to enlarge)

When active it was 3,000 feet of paved asphalt. To the east the earth drops 6,000 feet into the valley. To the west it climbs to more than 13,500 feet into Kings Canyon National Park. Awesome.

Talk to some local pilots in Bishop if you still want to try this strip. The Forest Service dug deep ruts across the runway but someone filled them in and the runway is dirt and in pretty good condition.

It is "closed," but not closed. There are "X" markers on each end. I do not promote the use of the airstrip. Any usage is at your own risk.

I visited Coyote Flats on October 30, 2005 around 11:00 PST. The OAT was 42ºF and the wind was from the north at 5 knots. There was a good accumulation of small clumps of vegetation growing along the runway, and some small rock on the runway. The useful length is diminished by the Xs (made from cantaloupe-size rocks). There is sufficient runway that I had no problem getting in and out of there in my Maule M4-220C with 8.50x6 mains. I was my myself with about 3/4 fuel.


Avion Club (at Buckhorn Ranch) – Crested Butte, Colorado
8,980 elevation


0CO2 This airstrip is also unique (aren't they all?). It sits as one of the nation's highest airports at 8,980 feet. It is publicly owned and run by a man named Carlo Cesa. I assure you this man is "way too cool." He even offered me a plane ride when he was in Albuquerque while I was taking my commercial exams.

The last couple of years saw the strip freshly paved to 4,400 feet. It is very nice and there is not much of a problem getting airborne. Watch the density altitude. The airstrip is being threatened for closure by a housing developer who wants to make a road across the runway.

Beaverhead Airstrip
North of Silver City, NM
6,750 elevation


Located 9 miles NW of Me-Own and about 40 miles north of Silver City, this airstrip serves the Beaverhead Ranger Station ... about two miles away. It is within the Black Ranger District. The single dirt runway (12/30) is very well maintained and used on a regular basis by the USFS. It is located on top of a mesa with a length of 3,840-feet and 50-feet wide. Surrounding terrain is juniper trees with plenty of aircraft parking available. The airport is open to the public, with a windsock but no other facilities.

Charlie, USFS, 505-536-2250 informed us that for the most part all approaches are open but the terrain begins to rise to the southwest of the airport. Notify other traffic of intentions on 120.750.

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