Monarch Pass

Monarch Pass, a high and notable road in Colorado

Monarch Pass is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 3.448m (11,312ft) above the sea level, located in Chaffee County, in the U.S. state of Colorado. The grade is intense for ascent and descent so use lower gears.

How long is the road to Monarch Pass?

The road to the summit is totally paved. It’s called U.S. Highway 50. It can be traversed by all vehicles under most conditions; however, 7% grades exist. The pass road is 95.43km (59.3 miles) long, running west-east from the City of Gunnison (in Gunnison County) to Poncha Springs (in Chaffee County). The road over the summit was finished in the late 1930’s. 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.

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. The drive is pretty steep. 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 %. Be bear aware.

Is the road to Monarch Pass scenic?

Plan 1 hour to complete the drive without any stop. A gift shop and small restaurant are located near the summit of the pass. Make sure you leave enough time to make plenty of stops along the way. The pass is considered one of the most scenic in Colorado, offering panoramic views of the Sawatch Range. The pass was used as a filmed location for the Fast and Furious 7 movie.

Is Monarch Pass open?

Set high in the Rocky Mountains of south-central Colorado, 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. Those who frequently traverse the pass probably don’t even notice the sign for Old Monarch Pass Road near the summit.

 

 

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