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 Rocky Mountains of south-central Colorado in the United States.
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.
The weather on this zone is harsh and highly unpredictable and it does not take much time for the bright sun shine to change over to moderate to heavy snow fall. The pass and the area is 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.
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 drive is definitely worth it. Don’t forget your camera! 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. Due to the high elevations and exposure, the road is subject to strong winds and rapid weather changes. Be prepared for the cold and wind! High winds blow here all year long. 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. 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.