Red Mountain Pass is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 11,018 ft (3,358 m) above the sea level, located in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. The pass is traversed by the US 550 (Million Dollar Highway). At this elevation, the pass is one of the highest paved passes in Colorado.
This road is usually open all year, but it can be closed anytime due to massive rock slides, continuous falling rocks and the amount of rubble, and when the access is not cleared of snow. The road includes some steep sections, and there are no protections or guard rails along some parts of the route.
The weather on this zone is harsh and highly unpredictable and it does not take much time for the bright sun shine to change over to moderate to heavy snow fall. Though it is one of the higher passes in Colorado, it has only a few switchbacks on the north approach and is generally kept open in the winter months. The scenery of the San Juan’s is unsurpassed and many call this area the American Alps.
The surface of the road is asphalt, and chains or snow tyres can be required throughout the year. The pass is known for being treacherous in the wintertime due to the steep 8% grade (slope) on the north side facing Ouray, though the entire road is paved.
The road on this pass is difficult and it’s a nightmare in the wet or dark (or both). The pass is named for nearby Red Mountain, which are three peaks characterized by the reddish rock that forms their slopes. Black Bear Road, one of the most dangerous mountain roads in the United States, starts from Red Mountain Pass and ends in Telluride.