Monarch Pass is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 3.448m (11,312ft) above the sea level, located in Chaffee County, south-central Colorado in the United States. The grade is intense for ascent and descent so use lower gears.
The pass is traversed by the U.S. Highway 50, an asphalted road that can be traversed by all vehicles under most conditions and is generally open year-round; however, 7% grades exist. Starting from Maysville, the ascent is 16.8 km long. Over this distance, the elevation gain is 915 meters. The average percentage is 5.4 %. A gift shop and small restaurant are located near the summit of the pass. The pass is widely considered one of the most scenic in Colorado, offering a panoramic view of the southern end of the Sawatch Range from the summit. Be bear aware.
Is Monarch Pass open?
Located in the Rocky Mountains, the weather on this zone is harsh and highly unpredictable. In winter, do take care. The pass and the area are prone to heavy winter snowfall, often resulting in temporary closures during severe winter storms. Ramps for runaway trucks are located about halfway down both the eastern and western sides of the pass. The weather station recorded a wind gust from the west of 148 mph, the highest official gust recorded to date in the state of Colorado. Thunderstorms are common.
Is Monarch Pass dangerous?
The pass is generally open year-round; however, 7% grades exist, and the area is prone to heavy winter snowfall, often resulting in temporary closures during severe winter storms. The west grade is the more dangerous because of no shoulder and fatal drop offs. If you are not accustomed to mountain driving or curves, altitude, or drop-offs make you nervous, plan to travel early in the day before traffic builds up.
A minor gravel road at the summit climbs up to Monarch Ridge South, at 3.634m (11,922ft) above the sea level. Access is right off the pass, where there is a large parking lot.