The Timmelsjoch pass (Passo del Rombo in Italian) is an international high mountain pass at an elevation of 2.509m (8,231ft) above the sea level that creates a link through the Ötztal Alps along the border between Austria and Italy, just some meters below the Queen of alpine roads, the Passo dello Stelvio. It's one of the highest mountain passes of the Alps.
The Timmelsjoch connects the Ötztal valley in the Austrian state of Tyrol to the Passeier Valley in the Italian province of South Tyrol. On the Italian side, the road to reach the summit is called SS44bis, and on the Austrian side, there’s a toll road, called Timmelsjoch Hochalpenstrasse, with a maximum altitude of 2.509 m and a length of 12 km. With its 2.509m altitude it is one of the highest alpine transition roads. From Untergurgl across the Timmelsjoch pass to South Tirol/Meran the road has a length of 38km. Due to the exposed high-elevation terrain, driving over the mountain pass is only possible between approximately the beginning of June and the end of October. The pass is now popular with car and motorbike tourists. Due to its elevation, steepness, and narrow road, the pass is closed to lorries and vehicles with trailers. The pass road is open to traffic daily from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm. The Ötztal valley side is subject to a toll charge. Road closures can be frequent, so check conditions before traveling to this area.
The drive is definitely worth it. The narrow road offers breathtaking views of the Ötztal Alps and afterwards of the picturesque landscape of the “Passeiertal” in South Tyrol. The road overcomes 2.500 meters in altitude in numerous serpentines. For centuries the mountain pass was the most important connection between the Upper Inn Valley and the city of Merano, which represented the political and economic center of the historical county of Tyrol for a long time. Don’t forget your camera!
The road is difficult and it’s a nightmare in the wet or dark (or both). In the late 19th century the construction of a High Alpine Road was considered and the project was eventually realized in the mid 1950s. With construction work only possible from May to November in only 17 months the road was built and could be opened for the public in July 1959 on the Austrian side. However, the connection to Italy was only finished in 1968. Since the completion of the pass road it is an indispensable connection between North- and South Tyrol.
There are no restrictions as regards using the Timmelsjoch High Alpine Road on the Austrian side right up to the summit. However, due to the steep, narrow road conditions and bridge constructions on the Italian side, the following restrictions apply: Cars and motorcycles are permitted; motor homes and small lorries are permitted - max. gross weight 8 tons, max. width 2.55 m, max. height 4 m; small buses are permitted – max. overall length 10 m, max. gross weight 8 tons; buses with an overall length of over 10 m or a gross weight exceeding 8 tons are not permitted; lorries with an overall weight exceeding 8 tons are not permitted; trailers with an overall length of over 4.5 m are not permitted; cyclists who use the Timmelsjoch Pass do so at their own risk. Bicycle lights are compulsory.
The experience of using this road is very impressive. If you drive along the Timmelsjoch High Alpine Road, the highest pass of the eastern Alps, you can enjoy a majestic view of the Ötztal Alps and a masterpiece of road construction at the same time. 60 spectacular bends lead to an altitude of 2.500 meters - a truly memorable experience especially for cabriolet drivers, motor bikers or mountain bikers. Fantastic vantage points, crystal-clear brooks and steep-ascending rock faces accompany you from the Ötztal valley to the Italian Tyrol. Drive with your headlights on at all times as it is easier for oncoming vehicles to see you.
The road includes some steep sections. The entire route was secured modern and has excellent road conditions. The Timmelsjoch High Alpine Road is a popular destination for all the family and popular highlight for motorcycle enthusiasts or convertible connoisseurs. But hikers get their money. The pass road opens up beautiful hiking areas, good hiking trails lead directly into the Ötztal mountains.