San Bernardino Pass, at an elevation of 2.065m (6,775ft) above the sea level, is a high mountain pass in the Swiss Alps connecting the Hinterrhein and the Mesolcina (Misox) valleys between Thusis (Graubünden) and Bellinzona (Ticino).
The pass road is only open in summer, but it can be closed anytime when the access is not cleared of snow. The pass has been in use since Roman times. The route first became important as a mule track in the fifteenth century. A road for wheeled vehicles was opened in 1770; this road was significantly improved between 1821 and 1823. Traffic flow was much facilitated when in 1967, the San Bernardino road tunnel was completed, since then vehicle traffic on the pass has been reduced, benefiting those taking the time to avoid the tunnel. It’s a real challenging road and a true test of your vehicle and your stamina because the road abounds in twists and turns. The pass takes its present name from San Bernardino of Siena, who is said to have preached here in the early 15th C.
This road is very exciting and sometimes very exposed and climbs in 18 hairpin bends (maximum gradient 9% (1 in 11.1) up the steep slope below the Mittaghorn (2,609 m/8,560ft; on left), with beautiful and constantly changing views to the rear of the Rheinwald valley and the peaks rising to over 3,000 m/9,843ft on its north side. In 4km/ 2mi it reaches the bare valley of the Thälialp (1,920 m/6,300ft) and then ascends in nine hairpins to the pass. The surface of the road is asphalted. This is an exquisite winding mountain drive with sharp and blind curves and hairpin switchbacks leading the traveler over the mountains. At the summit you’ll find a small lake with deep blue water and a hospice.