Driving through the scenic Monarch Pass in Colorado
Monarch Pass is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 3.448m (11,312ft) above the sea level, located on the boundary of Gunnison and Chaffee counties, in the U.S. state of Colorado.
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 safe to drive?
The road is not easy, with turns, steep parts, no shoulders 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 grade is intense for ascent and descent so use lower gears. Normal passenger vehicles should not have an issue. Be bear aware.
How steep is Monarch Pass in Colorado?
The drive is pretty steep. Starting from Maysville, the ascent is 16.8km (10.43 miles) long. Over this distance, the elevation gain is 915 meters. The average percentage is 5.4 %. Ramps for runaway trucks are located about halfway down both the eastern and western sides of the pass.
How long does it take to drive over Monarch Pass?
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 CO open?
Set high in the Rocky Mountains, on the south-central part of Colorado, the pass is generally open year-round; however, the area is prone to heavy winter snowfall, often resulting in temporary closures during severe winter storms. In winter, do take care. 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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