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Red Mountain Pass, Ouray

4.7
#10 of 18 in Outdoors in Ouray
Scenic Drive · Hidden Gem · Tourist Spot
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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
114 reviews
Google
4.6
TripAdvisor
  • left Durango to go to Ouray for lunch. Once you pass the fork at Silverton, the road gets very winding & steep with lots of switchbacks. Saw tee shirts in town boasting "I survived Red Mt. Pass... 
    left Durango to go to Ouray for lunch. Once you pass the fork at Silverton, the road gets very winding & steep with lots of switchbacks. Saw tee shirts in town boasting "I survived Red Mt. Pass...  more »
  • Took this road to Telluride. Such great views and took many pictures, not as scary as the other roads 
    Took this road to Telluride. Such great views and took many pictures, not as scary as the other roads  more »
Google
  • We took motorcycles in the rain down this pass. Even with the rain it gets 5 star rating for beauty! It’s a must go to if your out that way!!
  • If you are a flat lander, have anxiety with heights, this drive will challenge you. A lot of this road has sheer cliffs and drops with no guardrail. There is tension between those who are wanting to go at a slow pace and those who want to move along faster. I did this ride with my sister, and we did not know what we getting ourselves into. It was a bit of a knuckle biter for us. Scary, yet exciting and beautiful. It was very worth while, but I think if we knew knew what was coming, we would have chicken out . I recommend it as it became an unexpected highlight of our trip.

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