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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.
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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.
Dispersed camping is allowed along Black Bear Pass, per the MVUM. However, few pre-established campsites exist, and those that do are strictly vehicle and tent camping spots only. Free dispersed camping for trailers and RVs can be found 5.2 miles north of the trailhead on Highway 550 at Ironton Park. Lodging can be found in both the towns of Ouray and Telluride.
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