Alpine Tunnel
Alpine Tunnel

Alpine Tunnel

At an elevation of 3.559m (11,676ft) above the sea level, the Alpine Tunnel was once the highest railroad tunnel in the world. It’s located in Gunnison County, Colorado, United States. The road is very bumpy.

The narrow dirt trail to the tunnel is called Alpine Tunnel Road (FDR 839). It follows along the old railroad grade that leads to the historic tunnel. The rough trail is high-altitude and subject to heavy snowfall. A 4wd vehicle with high clearance is required. The trail becomes very narrow, steep in places, and extremely rocky. It’s about 10 miles long.  The trail is usually open from July 4 through Labor Day.

The high elevation with its risk of altitude sickness, weather concerns, steep road grade and overall inaccessibility make the travel dangerous and difficult. This trail is for anyone interested in ghost towns, mining and railroad history. The road is very bumpy and not meant for average cars. Train service through the Alpine Tunnel began in June of 1882 and was terminated in November of 1910. Excavation of the tunnel began in January 1880 and was expected to be finished in only six months. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, the task required nearly two years to complete. Both the east and the west portals have been closed, as the tunnel is extremely dangerous with rotted timbers. The drive will take some skill, some patience, and some tolerance for vertigo. It's very intense because there are no guard rails at the edge and there is little room for error.
Pic: A.L. Szalanski (Wikimedia Commons).

 

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