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Airstrip Junkies
by Colin M. Graham

Rael Ranch Horse Pasture – Horse Springs, New Mexico
Private / Pedro G. Rael

Elevation 7,000

NM68 Rael Ranch Horse Pasture is in a beautiful area of southwestern New Mexico, having visited there in October 2002. The elevation is right at 7,000 feet and is currently not maintained and suitable for emergencies only. Pedro Rael owns the airstrip. He is an attorney in Los Lunas, about 3.5 hours away. He built the airstrip about 6 years ago for his own personal use, owning a ranch there. Pedro intends on fixing the airstrip. To his knowledge no one has landed there in the past two years.

The airstrip runs uphill to the southwest, extending for 2,500 feet. The surface is dirt and currently very rough because of the out-of-control clump grass. The surrounding terrain is beautiful, high desert. To the west are many pine trees.

Mr. Rael mentions that there are several other unpublished airstrips in the area. He did not make any specific remarks about visitors, but you could always ask him at 505-865-6811.

Rogers Roost Airstrip – Thompson Springs, Utah
Owner Lester Rogers

Elevation 5,100

Located just north of Interstate 70 and about 50 miles north of Moab, Utah, lies Rogers Roost in poor condition. Thompson Springs is not a town, on a truck stop. The runway surface is gravel in very poor shape. I made a visual inspection in December 2004 and had trouble determining the runway ends and edges. The length is around 3,000 feet. I do not recommend flying here in its current condition. The airport has not been used for many years.

Root Ranch Airstrip – W of Cold Meadows, Idaho
Private / Flying Resort Ranches, Inc.

Elevation 5,650

The Root Ranch Airstrip lies just west of the Cold Meadows Ranger Station airstrip. Check out Galen Hanselman's FLY IDAHO!

This strip is about 1,500 feet lower elevation than Cold Meadows because it sits in the bottom of a small canyon. Bill Guth is the general manager of the airstrip and request all pilots wishing to fly in to this strip to call ahead at 208-756-6295. There is a $25 landing fee for any pilot flying in who isn't using the ranch facilities. Bill told us the airstrip is nice and flat and the approaches can be flown from either direction. He said take off is best downstream because the canyon ends upstream. The single dirt/turf runway extends 2,100 feet and is about 50 feet wide.

The Root Ranch is a fly-in resort tucked deep into central Idaho and currently has about 150 residents. Mr. Guth said, "Our airstrip is in a grassy meadow at the bottom of the canyon." The airport is open from early June to November.

Remarks: Located at the bottom of a canyon, either way in or out but preferred departure is downstream. No grade in the meadows. Surrounded by mountains but not deep. Closed in the winter from December through May.

Silver Heels – Como, Colorado
Private / Denver-South Park Soaring Association

Elevation 9,600

2CO9 The Silver Heels Airstrip sits about 10 miles southeast of the Heckendorf Ranch. It was at one time a glider port, but Heckendorf says the county shut the operation down about three years ago because the tow pilots were bothering the nearby cattle. It is still listed on charts and is at an extreme elevation of 9,600 feet with two gravel-surface runways of 4,500 feet. Denver and South Park Soaring is listed as the owner, but when I called an older lady told me, "There is no such thing anymore."

An e-mail from Steward Kissel on 01-17-2005 reports, "Update with image from last summer. Nothing grows more than 1/2-inch tall in these parts, so the strip is very landable; although a little hard to see from the air. A road still permits access as well."





Silver Lake USFS – Silver Lake, Oregon


45S I found this airstrip one evening while checking the Web for a different strip more than 1,000 miles away. It is located off Route 31 just west of Silver Lake, Oregon. The runway is a dirt surface and strethces for about 3,000 feet and is 50 feet wide.

It is not regularly used and does not see much maintenance, but it is in useable condition according to the Forest Service. It is primarily used by the USFS during the fire season and sees a lot of helicopter traffic. The local terrain is "fairly flat" as described by the Forest Service. It is mainly of a sagebrush nature. The runway is soft when wet.

For current conditions call 541-576-7520.

Simko STOL Strip
Owner Tom Simko

Elevation 6,150

1ID9 This private airstrip, located somewhere off I-15, is perhaps one of America's toughest. It is owned by Tom Simko who successfully developed a MO-GAS airplane.

The strip is on the side of a mountain adjacent to Interstate 15. The runway is a rough mixture of dirt, a mere 400 feet in length at an elevation of 6,150 feet. All approaches are made uphill to the east because of the 14-percent upslope. If there aren't enough obstacles to suit you the runway has a dogleg in the middle. This is a one-way strip with no chance of a go-around. The terrain to the east climbs steeply to 9,000 feet. A climb rate of about 300 fpm is needed just to touch down. It is not recommended that you try using this airstrip. A pilot during an emergency would be better off to land in the valley by the Interstate.

Take off is interesting as well. You simple point the aircraft down hill and the minute it breaks ground you reduce power to cruise because of the steady descent towards the valley. The valley floor is around 4,500 feet. Fly by and throw Tom a wave. He's a pretty cool guy. Just don't bother to land on the runway.

Skeen Airstrip - 15 S of Picacho, New Mexico
Owner Michael Skeen


82NM Mike Skeen sure is a nice gentleman. We talked one fall evening in October about his airstrips. Only one is listed on the ABQ Sectional chart but he has two very well maintained airstrips at the ranch. He also had some good information about other nearby airstrips.

The first strip is the "headquarters airstrip" that is shown on the chart. It is a 3,800 feet grass and dirt strip, well graded and fairly smooth. Mike says the airstrip is located in a canyon but still friendly to get in and out. He recommends landing to the south at the main airstrip. Both airstrips have 24-inch windsocks and the "outer strip" is located about two miles NW of the "headquarters strip." The outer strip consists of an east/west runway up on a flat plateau. Mike said it can be easier getting into than the lower strip that may have some tricky wind patterns.

The surrounding terrain is dry, rocky, cactus-covered hills. Each strip is located on an active ranch, so be advised that cattle and sheep can and often will be on the runways. Mike keeps a 1952 Piper Super Cub in a hangar based at his lower strip.

Both airstrips are open to anyone wanting to visit as long are you call Mike in advance at 505-653-4084.

Other airstrips include the Diamond A that is north of Skeen and the Flying H located to the south of Skeen. Mike said the Diamond A is a pretty nice 6,000-foot paved runway that has changed ownership a number of times in the past. The runway is oriented north/south but lies deep in a canyon that has very tricky wind ... not for the novice pilot. The northern end opens into the Hondo Valley. Mike said the Flying H is mainly used by powered parachutes.

Skyote Airstrip – Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Private / O.E. Bartoe

Elevation 8,200

CD02 The name Skyote comes from a one-place kit aircraft that Mr. Bartoe designs and builds. The airstrip is very dangerous and just like Barker Creek, strictly private. Mr. Bartoe says, "If you plan to land here, you'd better bring your bill of sale, 'cause you'll never get out alive." I didn't figure out if that was a threat or the nature of the airstrip. The strip is 1,600 feet in length at an elevation of 8,200 feet that slopes downhill to the south. Mr. Bartoe reports there is about a 75-foot difference in elevation between the runway ends. Land to the north, depart to the south. It is in a region of mountainous terrain and tall trees surround the airstrip.

This is another "fly by and wave" strip. Don't bother landing here.

Saguache Airstrip – Saguache, Colorado

Elevation 7,900

Saguache (pronounced SA - WATCH has a 7,900-foot elevation runway that is compensated for in its length of 7,750 feet. The airstrip is publicly owned and maintained by the Colorado Division of Aeronautics. The airport condition is described as "very good." The surround terrain is rolling and sage covered. Use caution for deer and antelope that are free to meander onto the runway. The airport is used very little, probably fewer than 30 aircraft each year land and take off. There is a windsock and new AWOS system, but no facilities.

It is a short ride into the town of Saguache, less than two miles. Most of the airstrip's usage comes from the Division of Wildlife and the USFS / BLM. State highway 141 runs along the northern edge of the runway.

For more information call Peggy, airport manager, at 719-655-2890.


Spencer Landing Strip – Keuterville, Idaho
Private / Craig Spencer

Elevation 4,200

ID90 This rather flat airstrip is closed. It lies high on a bluff over the Snake River south of the Salmon River confluence. It is owned by Spencer Ranch, Inc., a commercial cattle company. It is an ill used and decrepit airstrip with a dirt runway reaching 2,000 feet in length at an elevation of 4,200 feet. It has not been maintained in over a decade according to Craig Spencer (March 2003). It was originally built for flying mail and food to the ranch when the roads were poor. In the past 10 years the roads have gotten much better and the company abandoned the airstrip. Craig said the stirp ends at the edge of a bluff or very close to it. The airstrip is about 25 miles north of Memaloose.

Tavaputs Ranch – Green River, Utah
Private / Butch Jensen

Elevation 9,200

Tavaputs RanchUT09 Tavaputs Ranch is one of the highest airstrips in the Desolation Canyon and the Green River that lies some 7,000 feet below the Ranch. The runway was originally built to be one mile in length, but now only half is being used. Surrounding terrain is sage and evergreen pines. To fly in here you better know the area, know the approach, and secure permission from Mr. Jensen.

The ranch offers western-style accommodations on the rim of Desolation Canyon. Visit their Website at

For more information contact Butch Jensen 435-637-1236 or 435-636-5008.

Taxiing up the hill at Tavaputs Ranch

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