Black Bear Pass

4.9/5 (87 reviews)
Telluride, Colorado (San Juan County)
Last Updated: 02/06/2023

Trail Information


Ghost Town

The sign that once stood at the trailhead said it best; You don't have to be crazy to drive this road - but it helps. Traveling between Silverton and Telluride, Black Bear Pass is a legendary shelf road with 1,000-foot drop-offs, dangerous off-camber switchbacks, tight turns, and loose shale. It offers amazing mountaintop scenery as you climb to 12,840 feet and pass the breathtaking 365-foot Bridal Veil Falls, the tallest waterfall in Colorado. This Jeep Badge of Honor trail rightfully earns its title as one of the most dangerous trails in the country.

Trail Difficulty and Assessment

Trail Navigation

Black Bear Pass is a straight-through, 10-mile trail that begins at US 550 near the summit of Red Mountain Pass, historically known as the "Million Dollar Highway." The initial climb is easy and scenic, with beautiful wildflowers carpeting the high mountain meadows. Waterfalls cascade from alpine snow melt as you climb to the summit of the Pass. The descent into Telluride is vastly different, with zero room for error. The trail traverses narrow shelf roads with steep drop-offs that make it impossible to pass oncoming traffic. Because of this, the western descent into Telluride is one-way, downhill only. OHVs are not allowed to drive through the town of Telluride; hence they must turn around before the one-way section or secure a trailer ride through town. Drivers will navigate over several off-camber obstacles before peaking high above the town of Telluride just in time to traverse the narrowest and tightest switchbacks a vehicle can travel. Black Bear Pass is an impressive trail that requires your utmost attention for the entire duration of the trip. Any lapse of attention or judgment on this trail can result in a rollover which may lead to injury or worse. This trail should only be driven by experienced off-roaders in mechanically fine-tuned high clearance 4x4s.

Trail Reviews

4.9/5 (87)
Official Crew
Visited: 10/23/2022

A recent winter storm in the Ouray/ Silverton area has dropped a measurable amount of snow and high winds have been in the area. Some high country routes in the area may be passable but high country travel is not recommended.
Not Reported
Visited: 10/13/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

We did this trail in mid-October. The trail was snow covered as we descended from the summit, but it was dry before the switchbacks. The views are incredible! There is no way to overstate that. Most of the trail is fairly easy, but there are a few off camber spots and good size rocks to navigate that make the trail earn its rating. The switchbacks are not difficult although they can be scary because of how far down the drop is. Having a spotter makes if fairly easy. There were two Gladiators in our group. They made it just fine but did have a harder time making though the switchbacks. This trail should be on everyone's bucket list in my opinion.
Rated 5/5
Visited: 09/30/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Always a great trail as long as you are vigilant and have some wheeling experience. Not recommended for full size rigs since the switchbacks under the falls seem to be sluffing and out of shape this year. The most difficult sections are one way only so dont be "that guy" that jams up the flow. Take your time and use low range and use a spotter if in doubt.
Rated 5/5
Visited: 09/19/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Trail was relatively quiet which made for an excellent trip! Views were spectacular as usual and the trail was in better condition than I've seen it in the past!
Official Crew
Rated 4/5
Visited: 09/12/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Another amazing trail in the San Juans. This was my first time on Black Bear, and I had a blast. Technically speaking, this trail is just as easy as many other trails in the area (vehicle dependent - the steps can be a bit trickier in an IFS vehicle). The scare factor is why I agree with the 5 - there are several "no fall zones". If you have any experience with narrow shelf roads and multi-point turns, I think Black Bear won't pose too much of a challenge. I personally felt that the hype of the danger was much greater than the danger itself.

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