Imogene Pass

Imogene Pass: everything you need to know about this famed road

Imogene Pass is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 3.997m (13,114ft) above the sea level located in Ouray County in the southwest part of the US state of Colorado. The road is accessible by four wheel drive vehicles, and is not for the novice drivers. It's one of the highest mountain roads of Colorado.

Nestled in the San Juan Mountains, the route demands 100% concentration. The road to the summit is called Imogene Pass Road (K 68 Road and County Road 26A). The speed limit is 15 mph. The pass is located on the way from Ouray towards Telluride. The views alone the way are unbelievable. It was once a well-traveled mining road and opened as a 4WD road in 1966.

How long is Imogene Pass?

The road is gravel, rocky and rough in parts. It’s 25.74km (16 miles) long. From Ouray, the road turns off the road to Yankee Boy Basin above the Camp Bird Mine near the ghost town of Sneffels southwest of Ouray, and climbs through Imogene Basin to the summit.  From Telluride, the road takes off north of downtown and climbs past the ghost town of Tomboy through Savage Basin to the summit. You’ll find historical mining towns along the way.

How dangerous is Imogene Pass?

This gravel road is not for beginners. Expect some steep parts. Do not take this trip lightly. The road is rocky, steep and narrow in places and passing can be dangerous. Stock SUVs should have low-range gearing, 4-wheel drive, high clearance and skid plates. Experienced drivers only. Drive carefully. It would be pretty easy to accidentally drive off the side, and it would be a fatal mistake. The road is very narrow in parts and be prepared to deal with vehicles passing in the other direction. The drive itself can be intimidating at times depending on your skills and comfort with heights and exposure.

Is Imogene Pass open?

Adverse weather conditions are common. Always check the weather forecast before you start your journey. The road is impassable from October to June. The weather can become cold and windy in the middle of summer. Watch out for summer thunderstorms. Remember this is is a mountainous area, climbing up a high mountain. Altitude and extreme weather are always a factor.
Pic: Clint Mitchell