Gunsight Pass

Gunsight Pass

Gunsight Pass is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 3.692m (12,112ft) above the sea level, located in the Gunnison National Forest, in Colorado, USA. It's one of the highest mountain roads of Colorado.

Located in Gunnison County, the road to reach the pass is stunning. It’s called Gunsight Pass Road and is gravel and rocky. Practically the whole trail is a series of switchbacks up Red Lady Mountain and into Redwell Basin. Avalanches, heavy snowfalls and landslides can occur anytime and can sometimes block some sections of the road, being extremely dangerous due to frequent patches of ice. The Gunsight Pass 4x4 road climbs for about 6.5 miles until it turns into a singletrack trail. That climb up Gunsight is pretty good until a little over 11,500 or so. There, the road became loose powder with loose rocks. The singletrack trail continues on to cross the 12,090' Gunsight Pass. There is no way to actually drive over the pass, or even to the top of the pass. The last two large switchbacks of this trail are closed to ATV’s and 4×4′s because it is no longer safe to drive on. So if you are looking to get up to or over the pass, you will need to use a mountain bike or plan on a bit of hiking.

It’s a real challenging road and a true test of your vehicle and your stamina because the road abounds in twists and turns with wheels sometimes hanging above the precipice. From Crested Butte, go out of town towards the cemetery and right after you pass the cemetery, Make a left turn onto an easy 2WD dirt road. This road is called Slate River Road. Go about a mile or so until you see a sign to the left that says Gunsight Pass. From there, go all the way down to the river, there is an old bridge that recently has been re-enforced so you can walk across it and/or take your bike. If you have a 2WD or low clearance vehicle, do not continue. The river in most of the summer is very deep and the remaining road is very narrow and hairy. Only 4WD vehicles are recommend to continue. Driving hiking or biking, the remaining route could strike some people as difficult. This old road is not well maintained and is going through some severe erosion so use caution from here. Great views of Crested Butte on lower part of trail and spectacular northern views as you climb. This is a difficult ride. Be prepared for the risks of thunderstorms, cold weather, and isolation. Snowfields can be dangerous; you can fall through them to rocks below. Be careful.
Pic: Eric Yackel