Corkscrew Pass

Corkscrew Pass

Corkscrew Pass is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 3.732m (12,244ft) above the sea level, located in San Juan County, in the U.S. state of Colorado. The road is suitable only for 4 wheel drive vehicles. Narrow and steep on some switchbacks. It’s one of the highest mountain roads of Colorado.

Located in the San Juan Mountains, the road to the summit is gravel and rocky. It is steep and rough in spots with several sharp switchbacks. The route has humbled many egos. It’s not for the sissies and shouldn’t be attempted by novice drivers. Easy when dry. The road is wide and graded most of the way; however, one section of narrow switchbacks at the top may be intimidating to novice drivers. This is definitely not a Sunday drive.
Once at the top of the pass, the views are fantastic. The drive offers an incredible bird’s eye view of Como Lake. The original route through Corkscrew Gulch was a rough trail built in 1882-1883 to provide access between Silverton with the towns and mines on Red Mountain. 4x4 vehicle with high clearance required. This track is unforgiving in many areas. Drivers, keep your eyes on the road as any wrong move could be your last. You may send yourself careening down a 500-foot cliff.

Drive with care as this is a mountain road with dangerous dropoffs. This scenic trail cuts through the heart of old mining country. Driving at night, or in poor visibility, is not recommended for drivers unfamiliar with the road unless you have a good roof rack lights. The road is usually impassable from October to June (weather permitting). Great trail for experienced wheelers. 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! If wet, the trail becomes more difficult due to slippery clay soil.
The journey offers an exhilarating driving experience, with superb views. An incredible journey, an unforgettable experience. With jaw-dropping views around every corner, be sure to bring a camera and plenty of juice to keep it alive. This is definitely one road trip that you want to record with lots of photographs. The drive is especially beautiful in the fall when you can overlook the spectacular stands of aspen in the Ironton valley. There are lots of viewpoints, official and unofficial. The road is a delight to drive, with every kind of twist and turn. One of the great things about Corkscrew though, is that you almost always have a clear view of the road above, and can easily see and anticipate traffic coming down.
Pic: Manoj Sreekumar