Black Bear Pass, Colorado

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Black Bear Pass

Black Bear Pass is a well known off-road trail connecting Red Mountain Pass and Telluride, known for its 12,840 foot summit and tight, cliffside switchbacks.

  • Black Bear Pass CO connects the summit of Red Mountain Pass to Telluride.
  • The road is an expert-only four-wheel drive trail that traverses tight switchbacks and high cliffs.
  • The trail is one-way only except for one day in the summer.

Overview

Black Bear Pass Colorado is a one-way four-wheel drive road zigzagging through high-alpine meadows, narrow switchbacks and some of the most beautiful mountain landscapes in the lower 48. The famous sign at the trailhead says it all: “YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE CRAZY TO DRIVE THIS ROAD - BUT IT HELPS.”

Driving Directions

Black Bear Pass is a one-way road coming into Telluride from Red Mountain Pass. One day every summer the direction is reversed during the Jeeper’s Jamboree. To get to the trailhead from Telluride, head west on CO-145 out of town. Turn right at CO-62 and again onto US-550 in Ridgway. At the summit of Red Mountain Pass look for the signs to Black Bear Pass. The road is only open during summer months, and can be closed at anytime depending on conditons.

Time/Distance

The drive to the summit of Red Mountain Pass takes about 90 minutes. Once at the trailhead, the road is only 3.6 miles to Telluride, but can take varying amounts of time to complete depending on four-wheel experience. Leave as early as possible to avoid afternoon thunderstorms.

Highlights

The drive will make you question your sanity for undertaking such an extreme mountain road. The rewards are plentiful, however, with summit views skirting some of Colorado’s most dramatic mountain scenery. Once over the summit, the road passes Bridal Veil Falls, the highest waterfall in Colorado.

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