Travel guide to the top of Corkscrew Pass in Colorado

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 US 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 roads of Colorado.

Corkscrew Pass

Can you drive to Corkscrew Pass in Colorado?

The road to the summit is unpaved. It’s called Corkscrew Gulch Trail and comprises County Road 20A and County Road 11. It is steep and rough in spots with several sharp switchbacks. It’s an easy drive when dry. If wet, the trail becomes more difficult due to slippery clay soil. 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. 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. A short-wheel-base 4x4 with high clearance vehicle is required.

Is Corkscrew Pass in Colorado open?

Set high in the San Juan Mountains, the road is usually impassable from November through June due the snow.

How long is the road to Corkscrew Pass in Colorado?

Tucked away within the Uncompahgre National Forest, on the southwestern part of Colorado, the road is 8km (5 miles) long, running west-southeast from Million Dollar Highway to County Road 10. This scenic trail cuts through the heart of old mining country. 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. Watch for logging trucks at the lower part of the trail.

Is Corkscrew Pass in Colorado worth it?

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. This track is unforgiving in many areas and always delivers fantastic viewing and photo opportunities for flora and fauna. With jaw-dropping views around every corner, be sure to bring a camera and plenty of juice to keep it alive. The drive is especially beautiful in the fall when you can overlook the spectacular stands of aspen in the Ironton valley. It’s a very popular trail so expect lots of company.
Pic: Manoj Sreekumar