Due to unprecedented and historic fire conditions, U.S. Forest Service-Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland is temporarily closing all National Forest land in Clear Creek, Jefferson, Gilpin, Boulder, and Larimer counties. The decision to be re-evaluated daily. SEE CLOSURE ORDER

Stony Pass

Silverton, Colorado (SanJuan County)

Last Updated: 08/28/2020
4.9 / 5 ( 13 reviews )
Information
Nearby Trails
Status: Open
Typically Open: Year Round
Length: 40.6 miles
Highest Elevation: 13082 feet
Duration: About 3 hours, 30 minutes
Shape of Trail: Straight Through
Best Direction to Travel: East
Nearest Town: Silverton
Nearest Town w/ Services: Silverton
Official Road Name: 737 and 520
Management Agency: San Juan National Forest and Rio Grande National Forest
District: Divide Ranger District
Showing 0 trails within 2 miles

Highlights

Highlight: Stony Pass
Situated in the San Juan Mountains near Silverton, Colorado, Stony Pass crosses the Continental Divide and is one of the longest uninterrupted off-road climbs in the entire state. It used to be a major supply route into Silverton from the east until 1882 when the Durango to Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad made it obsolete. It became just a road utilized for mining before it was abandoned. The road was reopened as a four-wheel drive route by the US Forest Service in the 1950s. Optional side trips are available that allow you travel up to the historic Buffalo Boy Tram Station and beyond up to 13,000' in elevation. Wildflowers, alpine views, and mining history make this a trip worth taking.

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Weather

7 day forecast for Stony Pass

Route Information

Technical Rating:
(MODERATE )

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Waypoints

1. Trailhead (0 mi)
Take the fork uphill. You should air down here, as many parts of the road are very rocky.

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 37.815307, -107.578303

Starting Point: Silverton, Colorado

Follow the signs north out of Silverton, Colorado on CR-2 for about four miles and look for the sign "Cunningham Gulch", "Old 100 Mine Tour", and "Stony Pass" all on the right. Take road 4 (right) and then follow the sign markers to Stony Pass.

Camping

Dispersed
Improved

Trail Reviews (17)

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Ran Stony Pass from East to West, a lot of camping spots along the route and beautiful scenery. I camped the night before just outside of Creede to the Southwest along the river and it was beautiful and quiet. Came across a moose and a heard of sheep along the trail. Pulled my Smittybilt trailer the whole way with no issues at all. Great way to get Silverton, took about 4 hours with some stopping along the way.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Any word on pass open? Silverton not getting much snow. Trying to get over it th o hunt elk. Thanks for any info!

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
*Big Caveat to the "Open" status. Silverton and the pass expecting 12"+ of snow 9/8/2020. I would not expect it to be open after that.* TL;DR: Ran West to East from Silverton on 9/7. Pole Creek was easily passable, maybe 12-18" at the very deepest for a few feet. Ran in a mostly stock WK2 Trailhawk with 32" tires. Took ~4 hours, with photo stops, to get to the 30 mile mark. OK, first off: beautiful drive through some of the most breathtaking scenery in the southwest. The Alpine tundra was amazing and the descent along the Rio Grande was magnificent. Aspens were just starting to turn, lots of wildlife (pack of ~5 wolves, some deer, critters, etc...). 10/10 would do again just for the scenery. If not for... ... this is a VERY rough trail. (Full disclosure: I've been playing with Jeeps offroad for 20+ years, but never in a very demanding way. Please take my opinion FWIW.) TOF's difficulty system is accurate, no fault there. The obstacle criteria are what is described in the rating system mostly. I would question the "tire placement" or "narrow shelf road" points. (I may have made up the tire placement criteria, but I thought I saw it somewhere.) While you always have a full track to run on, it is at places JUST as wide as your vehicle with some sphincter-clenching drops (no trees) to one side and a solid rock face on the other. And that's just in the first couple miles, with many more to come. Once you get past Waypoint 3 (WP4 through 7 are optional side trips, I did not go that way.) the trail is not quite as rigorous the rest of the way to the pass. Totally worth it to get there, but NOT for the faint of heart or those with even mild vertigo. Even then, once past the pass, from roughly WP14 through about maybe 23 the trail is EXTREMELY rough. Much of the trail is cleared through aspen forest growing up through old avalanche scree and talus fields which means the trail is mostly just broken rocks and not much in the way of dirt. And still with many many shelf type trails in places. There are some smoother sections and some very pleasant stretches in between, but you will spend A LOT of time crawling up and down through a lot of trees with just a bunch of broken rocks as your road base. At full 12" of ground clearance in my WK2 I managed to avoid any major scrapes or hard hits to the skid plates, but if someone told me the road had materially worsened before my next attempt, I would seriously reconsider. Once you get past the Rio Grande Reservoir, the trail evens out to a standard National Forrest road: rough washboards, but wide and easy to cruise. So, 4/10 difficulty? Sure. Not technically incorrect per TOR's rating system. I have little technical skill and successfully completed this trail. I loved it and hope to do it again. However, this is not an easy trail for anyone looking to just go up and back for quick bit of weekend fun.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
This is one of my new all-time favorite overland routes! Technical driving, epic scenery, awesome (and plentiful camping), and some incredible history! It just doesn't get any better than this!! Can't wait to come back!

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Traveled east-to-west from Highway 149 to Silverton. My only regret is that I did not bring camping gear on this trip. There are some beautiful campsites between waypoints 12 and 13.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Always one of my favorites! Traveled west to east camping one night along the way. The Pole Creek crossing was way lower than we expected. Nothing to it. Traversed in full size stock Chevy.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Now open for the season! Please note that the water crossing at Waypoint 13 is still very high.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Wow, what a beautiful route through some amazing landscapes. The trail wasn't that hard but did have a couple rocky spots that will require 4x4. We really liked all the great camping once you get near the river. There are some spots where I could just sit for a couple days. The trail was totally clear and there weren't any really narrow spots. Not much traffic compared to all the other trails we visited in the area. We chose not to visit the optional mine sites.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Stony pass is now open all the way through. Pole creek crossing is listed at “cross at your own risk” by Forest Service, water is high and fast moving but passable in a capable truck with experienced driver. Overall this wasn’t a challenging route, just a nice long scenic drive with lots to stop and see along the way.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Temporary Closure
Offroaded on:
Important: Due to dangerous water flow at Pole Creek, Stony Pass is temporarily closed

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
It was reported that someone lost their life while attempting to cross the water. Use caution on the trail and do not go alone or attempt if the water is too high or fast.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Stony Pass is open all the way through as of yesterday. San Juan County finished plowing their end. Expect muddy conditions and Pole Creek crossing at waypoint 13 is extremely high and fast. Be careful attempting to cross.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
I drove the full length of Stony Pass from Silverton to Hwy 149 in my 1988 Isuzu Trooper. The road is open and in good condition. There are a few wet spots but overall dry. From Silverton to Kite Lake intersection (Waypoint 14) I was with a group from Isuzu Wheelers (Facebook group). Together, we drove the spur road up to Buffalo Boy Mine, then back down and over the pass, and up-and-back to Kite Lake. After completing Kite Lake, I proceeded east to Creede and the others went back to Silverton. This is a fantastic connector road with lots of history/mining artifacts and wonderful mountain scenery.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
We've done Black Bear Pass, Engineer, Imogene, Cinnamon and many others in the area. This one often gets overshadowed by those others, but should not be overlooked. This is one of our favorite trails and is much less crowded than the more well known trails in the area.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Open and completely dry and clear, road in good condition.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Per Ouray County, Stony Pass is now open.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
I love Stony Pass for the journey. At 40 some miles, this is just a great adventure. We left Silverton late and camped along the way. The camping next to the Rio Grande to me is one of those iconic moments you just have to experience.

Questions & Answers (10)

Q: Would a Ford Transit van or a F250 with a big overhead camper make it from Silverton to Pole Creek?
–Eric Breden (09/01/2020)
–Ryan Boudreau (09/01/2020)
Q: Was considering going East to West and have a overland trailer in tow. Is the road ok puling a trailer? It seems to be pretty easy and not alot of switchbacks where having a small trailer would be a challenge. Also, you show a good camp spot at 16 next to the river, but are there other river spots to pull a trailer into and not in any campground?
–Craig (07/27/2020)
–Ryan Boudreau (07/27/2020)
Q: I’m heading out to the San Juan’s a week from tomorrow. I’ll Be coming up from Texas and Wanted to camp on the eastern side of Stony pass before heading into silverton Tuesday Would it be too big a pain for everyone to run stony pass East to west?
–Tom (07/12/2020)
–Tom (07/12/2020)
–Todd (07/12/2020)
Q: I have a 2014 FJ Cruiser and the only off roading I've done is on dirt roads in Pennsylvania - which are quite tame. My question is, some of the pictures of this road seem quite narrow - how can two cars get by? Is the road one-way? I would not be comfortable backing up on a road with the severe drop offs.
–Warren Taylor (06/08/2020)
–Todd (06/08/2020)
Q: How long would it take to round trip it from Silverton and back?
–Steve Anderson (03/17/2020)
–Todd (03/17/2020)
Q: Is stony pass clear currently?
–josh meadows (06/25/2019)
–Todd (07/01/2019)
–Todd (06/27/2019)
–Todd (06/25/2019)
Q: Sorry. Follow up to previous question. Meant western trail head. Thanks
–Greg Robbins (01/28/2019)
–Ryan Boudreau (01/30/2019)
–Todd (01/29/2019)
Q: Hi Todd--we're gearing up for trip this week. Any beta on the timber hill section? We'll be in a stock 4wd 2015 Grand Cherokee. I'm novice/light intermediate w jeeping . . . Grew up in Ouray so I've definitely done some. Any advice appreciated.
–Chris Wood (09/04/2017)
–L wetherill (02/10/2018)
–Todd (09/05/2017)
Q: Looking to take my family over from Silverton side to Creede in early September. 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4X4. Any extra advice? Best spot to camp for a couple nights and explore from?
–Chris Wood (08/20/2017)
–Todd (08/20/2017)
Q: Do you think that a 4wd Ford F250 can make the trail without problems? Looking to go from 149 all the way to Silverton
–Christopher (06/10/2017)
–Todd (06/10/2017)

Writer Information

Ryan Boudreau

Mapping Crew - Colorado

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.
For individual use only, not to be shared.