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Red Mountain Pass, Ouray

#12 of 20 in Outdoors in Ouray
Scenic Drive · Hidden Gem · Tourist Spot
Red Mountain Pass elevation 11,018 ft (3,358 m) is a mountain pass in the San Juan Mountains of western Colorado

in the United States.

The pass straddles a divide that separates Ouray and San Juan counties. The pass is named for the nearby Red Mountain on the northeast side of the pass. The name is derived from the iron oxide laden rock that forms their slopes.

The pass separates the Uncompahgre and Las Animas River watersheds, and also serves as a dividing point between the Uncompahgre and San Juan National Forests. The pass is traversed by the Million Dollar Highway, U.S. Highway 550 between Ouray and Silverton, which is part of the San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway.

The pass is known for being treacherous in the wintertime due to the steep 8% grade and switchbacks on the north side facing Ouray, though the entire road is paved. Avalanches are frequent, and can block the highway for some time. The lower part of the pass towards Ouray is blasted into near-vertical cliffs of quartzite hundreds of feet above Red Mountain Creek and the Uncompahgre River. This section of road is winding, narrow and has no shoulder.
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Red Mountain Pass reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 5.0
111 reviews
  • Took this pass back to Ouray after 4 wheeling the Silverton area. The views are gorgeous. Be sure to stop at the viewpoints.  more »
  • We live in Western Colorado and visit Ouray/Silverton a couple times a year. We jeep and there are so many places to go off Red Mountain Pass. It is beautiful in the SW part of Colorado.  more »
  • Breath taking views for days, but a bit scary! Definitely be ready for an adrenaline rush. Respect the mountain.
  • Always a beautiful drive! Husband is from back east and doesn’t ever want to do it again. Lol! Not for the faint of heart.

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