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Cliffs at Bakers Bridge north of Durango sell to new owners

Private buyers purchase popular hangout area along the Animas River
Sayer Fronte does a trick dive in August 2020 as he leaps off Bakers Bridge on East Animas Road (County Road 250) north of Durango. The properties on the east and west sides of the Animas River have been sold to new owners. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

Sold. The cliffs at Bakers Bridge north of Durango – a popular hangout for cliff jumpers and sunbathers – have new private owners.

For years, locals and visitors have gathered at the steep rock faces and blue-green waters near the bridge on East Animas Road (County Road 250) as if it was a public recreation area. But the cliffs on the eastern and western banks of the Animas River are actually privately owned.

In summer 2020, increased trespassing, graffiti and parking became an issue, and both out-of-state landowners put their properties on the market.

In November, the 2.7-acre property on the east side of the river sold to private buyers for $835,000, according to the Wells Group, a real estate company in Southwest Colorado.

The cliffs and forested area on the western shore, which attracted the bulk of recreators, went under contract to sell to a private individual in early August.

“It’s supposed to close mid-month in September. They are just waiting on an updated (land) survey,” said John Wells, real estate broker and owner of the Wells Group. “It’s supposed to wrap up anytime now.”

Wells declined to share the new buyer’s name and the property’s sale price.

The 2.6-acre property, owned by Albert Frink of California, was advertised for $795,000. It has an assessed value of $629,530, according to the La Plata County land map.

The area around the Animas River and Bakers Bridge on East Animas Road (County Road 250) north of Durango has been a popular gathering place for decades. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

On a typical summer day, families and friends would be sprawled around the open rock faces and wooded areas of Frink’s property, about 15 miles north of Durango. It was almost a rite of passage for people to jump off the cliffs and bridge into the Animas River 46 feet below.

In summer 2020, Frink was discouraged to hear about increasing issues concerning trespassing, trash, graffiti and safety on his property.

“When you look at a piece of property, you just want to use it. Then after a while, it becomes like you own it,” Frink said at the time. “If that place had been taken care of by locals and out-of-towners ... I was heartbroken when I saw some of the pictures of what people left behind.”

The wall and boulders under the west end of Bakers Bridge were covered with graffiti in 2020. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

The property was listed on the market in July 2020, and a fence was installed to mark the private land boundaries shortly after. The fencing does not cover some parts of the rocky area on the west side of the river; however, all cliff, forest and open rock areas are privately owned.

For a brief period of time, community members looked to local governments to buy the property, but the idea never gained traction.

A contractor put up fence west of the Animas River and south Bakers Bridge in 2020 on East Animas Road (County Road 250) in 2020 to keep people off private property. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

smullane@durangoherald.com

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