The pass is located at the northern end of the Sawatch Range and is a popular shortcut from I-70 to the town of Red Cliff and the more interesting off-road trails such as Holy Cross, Ptarmigan Pass, and McCallister Gulch. The pass offers scenic views of wildflower meadows and pine woodlands during the summer and autumn months, as well as distant view of Mount of the Holy Cross to the north.
Travel I-70 west to exit 190, the top of Vail Pass. Turn left (west) from the exit and pass a large dirt parking area on your right. The road turns into Forest Service Road 709 just after the dirt lot.
Nice little pass road with some neat looking camping sites. Nothing too difficult on this one and only saw one person today (Thursday), not counting the workers we ran in to. Cool little spot to walk out to to see Mount Holy Cross, it is even wheel chair accessible. Marked a couple of the campsites for a future visit and headed on out from Red Cliff to pick up some other trails since our targets were closed.
Rainy during our drive, was unable to see Mount of the Holy Cross. Very easy drive, a little rough towards Red Cliff which forced us to slow down a little. I would use this pass again as a scenic alternative to 70 through Vail.
I called the ranger station today to ask if this was open as their website says its currently closed. I just wanted to confirm on this page to let others know that the gate will not open before June 21, 2018 for the season, but may take longer as there are lots of gates for them to open and not that many rangers to open the gates.
Trail was clear the entire away and a little dusty due to the lack of recent precipitation. Seems that the road may have been graded recently as it was smoother than usual. Available camping was few and far between due to the busy holiday weekend.
Hi, I'm Ryan!
I am a Colorado native and I've been wheeling since I was 16 years old. I grew up with a relentless passion for all things Jeep and off road related, and that passion has never died out. I am a member of the Mile-Hi Jeep Club, Patrol 16 Sasquatch Jeepers and currently own an '06 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited (LJ) nicknamed "Minion".
I am a huge supporter of Stay the Trail and Tread Lightly, and have participated and even been in charge of many trail restoration projects. I have been a trail leader several times for events such as All-4-Fun, ColoradoFest, Set Them Free, 14er Fest, and other. I am also the creator of the Unlimited LJ Adventure.
My rig is built for extreme offroading, but I love to get my tires dirty on any kind of trail whether it's rock crawling or just scenic high Alpine drives. I've wheeled all over the country including Colorado, Utah, Kansas, the Carolinas, AZ, and California. I love a great adventure, and love even more to share those adventures with others.
If you see the "minion" out on the trail, make sure to stop and say hello.