Cordova Pass  
USGS 7.5' Map: Gulnare, Herlick Canyon, Cucharas Pass
Difficulty: Number: Miles: Altitude: Obstacles: Time:
Easy 1 FR46 24.00 7,135 to 11,248 ft. NA 1-2 hours
County: Huerfano, Las Animas
Adopted by:      
Managed by: Pike and San Isabel National Forest,
San Carlos Ranger District
3028 East Main Street
Canon City, CO 81212
Summary: Cordova Pass is a mostly graded road on the south side of the Spanish Peaks. It passes through a tunnel made in a volcanic dike called Apishapa Arch.
Attractions: Scenery
Natural - Closed by heavy snows.
Best Time: June - Best, depending on the snow pack
July - Best
August - Best
September - Best
October - Good, early snows possible
Trail Heads
Apishapa Trail, FT1324 - Hiking
West Peak Trail, FT1390 - Hiking
Camping: There are dispersed camp sites along the road as well as a Forest Service campground at the top of the pass.
Base Camp: This would not be a good area to base camp due to the amount of private property in the area. sites.
Fall Colors: Very Good - The majority of the road passes through aspen groves.
Navigation: From Augilar, CO. head west on County Rd 56.3/E Main St toward S Romero St for 0.1 miles. Turn left onto South San Antonio Ave. and go 0.5 miles. Continue onto County Rd 43.7 for 7.8 miles. Continue onto County Rd 46 for 1.8 miles. Stay to the right at the Y in the road to continue on County Rd 46, the start of Cordova Pass road.

From La Veta, CO, head south on S Main Street toward W Francisco Street for 0.3 miles. Turn right onto W Grand Ave and go 0.1 miles. Turn left at the 1st cross street onto Colorado Hwy 12 E/Oak Street and go 16.9 miles. Turn left onto a dirt road, the Cordova Pass road.
History: In the early 1900's Jose de Jesus Cordova ran a ranch near Aguilar, Colorado. He had always wanted a road from Augilar to Cuchara Pass. Finally, in 1928 he had enough funding to begin making the road. Along this road one of the volcanic igneous dikes was tunneled through creating the Apishapa Arch. Apishapa means "stinking water" in Apache, which described the brackish water during the summer months when the surrounding creeks had low flow rates. By 1934 the road was completed and then renamed to Cordova Pass Road in 1978.
Cordova Pass road is mostly a county road that runs from near Gulnare, Colorado to the paved highway over Cuchara Pass.

From the 'Y' in County Rd 46 you will continue following the county road past private homes. As you climb up the south side of the Spanish Peaks there will be thicker forests. When the road becomes more of a single lane graded road you will enter the San Carlos Ranger District. In less than a mile you will pass the Apishapa Trailhead, which is fairly small. From here the road is narrower and rougher as the forest gets even heavier. The road will climb through three switchbacks before coming to Apishapa Arch.
Apishapa Arch

Photo by:
Adam M

This is a nice scenic spot to get a picture of one of the many volcanic dikes in the area. From here the road will continue to climb higher as it leaves the National Forest traveling through private property. Along this section you will have some scenic views along the road of the area south of the Spanish Peaks. Shortly you will be entering the National Forest once again and travel just over a mile before reaching Cordova Pass.
Cordova Pass sign

Photo by:
Adam M

Old Cordova Pass sign

Photo by:
Adam M

At the pass you will find a Forest Service campground and the West Peak hiking trailhead. Be cautious in this area due to the number of people and vehilces moving around. This is a heavy traffic zone.

The road continues down the west side of the pass through the forest on the side of West Spanish Peak. It is two lanes wide and only rough in a few section. After you pass the Farley Overlook of the three White Peaks, the road will work its way through aspen groves and open meadows. This section of the road is mostly boardered by private property. Cordova Pass Road ends at pavement on Cuchara Pass.
Data updated - April 14, 2016     4WD Road driven - September 5, 2015     Copyright - 2000-2016