Virgin Islands National Park High Point Trip Report

Crown Mtn in Park fragment (1,556- ft) and Bordeaux Mtn in main Park (1,320 ft)

Date: June 4, 2003
Author: Michael Schwartz

On June 3rd, I took the first flight from San Juan PR over to Saint Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), only a 30 minute hop.

I rented a car, drove to the top of Crown Mountain, the USVI highpoint and possible V.I. N.P. highpoint, then drove to Red Hook at the eastern end of the island, from there I took the car ferry over to Cruz Bay on Saint Johns. The boat ride is a gorgeous trip, with outstanding views of both islands, plus distant views to a couple of the British Virgins.

On St. Johns, I drove up the spine of the island to Bordeaux Mountain, whose summit I probably did not reach. By the time I returned to Cruz Bay, I had a flat tire, which I reinflated enough to drive onto the ferry. Just before reaching Red Hook, I changed the tire and drove back to the airport on a doughnut spare, lots of fun.

Traffic in the USVI drives on the LEFT side, a first for me. The shock was somewhat eased by finding, surprisingly, that all vehicles had the steering wheel on the left side, U.S. style. All one has to do is hug the left shoulder, easily judged, to be assured that the vehicle's right side is clear of the center line. Passing would be a bit difficult, but the USVI roads are so curvy, narrow, and hilly that passing opportunities are very few. I did find many USVI roads, albeit paved, to be extremely steep, to the point where if they were at all damp, they would be impassible without 4WD. This echoes similar comments by John Garner on his 1999 trip. Crown Mountain, by the route I will provide, does not require 4WD in any weather, but if one ventures onto other roads, or over to Saint Johns, in other than very dry conditions, it might be worth springing for 4WD.

Notes on cost:
One-day R/T air on American Airlines between San Juan and Saint Thomas cost about $200. Their competition, Cape Air, offered flights for about $35 dollars less, but I felt I needed the earlier American departure to give me more time in the USVI.

Cheapest one-day rental in the USVI cost me about $55. Make sure to specify A/C, as many USVI cars don't come with it.

Car ferry from Saint Thomas to Saint Johns cost $35.

Gas in the USVI ran about $1.95/gallon, but the distances are small, so you'd have to work hard to burn very much.

One could possibly save money in the USVI by taking taxis, and the much cheaper passenger ferry, but the cost in time is not worth it, IMO.

Crown Mtn in Park fragment (1,556- ft)

From the Airport on Saint Thomas, drive east on the access road, VI 302, and turn right (E) onto VI 30 after one mile. At the second traffic light on VI 30, at 1.3 miles, turn left onto VI 33, Crown Mountain Road. Take this for 2.3 miles to a right turn onto VI 334. Drive uphill, passing the entrance to a U.S. Navy radar facility after 0.3 miles, then bearing left onto a more driveway-looking road at 0.4 miles. This road dead-ends at stoutly fenced USVI Telephone Company towers. There is higher ground inside the fence, so at this point use your judgment as to proceeding further. You can prowl around below the summit in thick woods to cover the possible VI N.P. highpoint.

Bordeaux Mtn in main Park (1,320 ft)

If the area on Crown Mountain on Saint Thomas is not part of the national park, then Bordeaux Mountain, inside the park and the island highpoint as well, is the NP highpoint. From Cruz Bay, at the ferry terminus, drive straight uphill on the poorly marked Centerline Road (if the road does not clearly head uphill into the mountains, it's the wrong road) about seven narrow, curvy miles to the Bordeaux Mountain viewpoint, restaurant, and souvenir shop. A paved road heads uphill from the saddle for less than 0.2 miles, then reaches a junction with Bordeaux Mountain Road, which swings right and uphill. This road is very rocky, rutted, and steep. I barely negotiated it with my 2WD car in bone dry conditions. All other vehicles on the road were 4WD. Either rent 4WD or walk the 3/4 miles up the road. I obviously had bad GPS coordinates, because when I reached a junction with a good driveway after 0.8 miles, the GPS said I was at the highpoint. I did climb the driveway to a rather prominent bump, but there were homes on top, and this is no way matched the bushwhack described in other reports. I assume I did not reach the true summit of Bordeaux Mountain, unless the homes have been built since the last posted reports. There are obviously numerous private inholdings in the national park on Saint Johns. Note that Topozone does display the USVI at 1:25,000 scale.