Pearl Pass

Pearl Pass, one of the last roads to open in Colorado

Pearl Pass is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 3.872m (12,705ft) above the sea level, located in the White River National Forest, in Colorado, USA. There is often snow on the road well into late July and some years the snow does not melt sufficiently to allow passage. It's one of the highest mountain roads of Colorado.

Nestled in the Gunnison National Forest, the pass sits between two of the most famous recreational areas in the state: Aspen and Crested Butte. The views are spectacular. It crosses the Continental Divide. The pass is only open a few weeks in late summer due to snow banks blocking the trail. Completing this trail may not be possible during many years because of snow that is very often blocking the trail on the south side of the pass.

Located in Pitkin County, the trail over the pass is gravel and rocky. It’s 6.5 miles one-way (10.5 km), climbing up from 9,728 feet (2.650 m) to 12,705 feet (3.872 m). It’s a 4WD road. There are sections that are significantly rough, specially a 1/2 mile up a 25+% grade. The first 1/2 mile is fairly level, then the road begins to climb. There are some steep uphills and at the 1 1/2 mile mark there is a foot bridge, here you will need to ford the stream. The road continues to climb through spruce groves crossing a vehicle bridge and immediately becoming steeper and more rugged. Three miles up the road the Mace cabin is on the right. A 1/4 mile past the cabin the road to Pearl Pass forks steeply to the left. Keep left (the right fork goes to Montezuma Basin, refer to that flyer for further information). The road climbs steeply, there are rough, rocky sections and you'll want to be sure that everyone is wearing a seat belt. Once over the pass the route is not terribly demanding except for a section of marsh.
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NOTICE: Due to the spread of COVID-19, many points of interest and roads are closed and travel is not recommended. Please follow all local health authority directives before venturing off, and stay safe.