|Old Monarch Pass|
|USGS 7.5' Map:||Garfield, Whitepine, Sargents|
|Managed by:||Gunnison NF, Gunnison Ranger District
Pike San Isabel, Salida Ranger District
|216 N. Colorado, Gunnison, CO 81230
325 West Rainbow Blvd. Salida, CO 81201
|Summary:||Old Monarch Pass is an easy historic road.|
|Attractions:||Scenic views. History.|
|Natural - Closed by snow fall|
June - May still be snowed in
July - Best
August - Best
September - Best
October - Early snows may close the pass
|Trail Heads||Continental Divide Trail - Hiking trail.
|Camping:||There are a few dispersed camp sites on the west side of the pass.|
|Base Camp:||This would be a poor area to base camp. There are only a few spur roads around Old Monarch Pass.|
|Fall Colors:||Very Good - The west side of the pass has lots of aspen groves.|
From Gunnison head east on US-50 E toward S Iowa Street. Continue to follow US-50 E for 33.12 miles. Turn slight left onto County Road 888 and go 4.68 miles. Turn right on to FR237, Old Monarch Pass Road.
From Poncha Springs head northwest on W US Highway 50/US-50 W toward West Street for 16.52 miles. Turn right on FR237/CR234. This is the Old Monarch Pass Road.
|History:||Old Monarch Pass is located on the Old Monarch Pass Road (FR 237), which is an excellent dirt car-road. This road can be accessed from HWY 50 on the east side of the summit of Monarch Pass or from the White Pine Road (CR 888), on the west side. Old Monarch Pass (elevation 11,375') was actually the second Monarch Pass. It opened in 1921, and was engineered for "automobiles". The original pass was a toll-road which opened in 1880. It was traveled by wagon or stagecoach, and crosses what is now the Monarch Ski Area. Today it is referred to as "Old Old Monarch Pass". Present-day Monarch Pass (elevation 11,312') was opened in 1939. Each new pass was re-routed to reduce sharp curves, increase safety, and shorten the distance. The first two Monarch Passes were closed in winter, which isolated Gunnison. By the late 1930's, there was a need to have a pass which was open year-round. Present-day Monarch Pass was opened under considerable controversy, however. In order to reduce the numerous hairpin curves of Old Monarch Pass and build the road in the sunniest locations, one or two local historic cemeteries were destroyed. Also, the state highway engineer at the time, Charles Vail, named the pass "Vail Pass" after himself. Local residents were outraged, and tore down all the new "Vail Pass" signs. The governor finally stepped in and reinstated the name "Monarch Pass". You can hike south from Old Monarch Pass over to Monarch Pass along the Continental Divide Trail, the distance is about a mile. You can also hike north from Old Monarch Pass to Old Old Monarch Pass along the Continental Divide Trail, the distance is about 2 miles.
|Old Monarch Pass starts near the Monarch Ski Resort, just before you reach the top of the paved Monarch Pass. The road is a wide graded road that turns into the forest off of a parking area. It will climb through the trees and then turn west taking you to the Old Monarch Pass parking area.|
From the parking area the road will head down the west side of the pass through the forest. It will remain a wide graded road working its way down hill.
You will pass through a lot of switchbacks as the old railroad grade works its way down toward Sargents. There will be a few pull offs where people have camped.
The pass road will finally come out onto a county gravel road, CR888. The left will take you back to Highway 50 near Sargents. The right will head up the valley to Whitepine, Where Tomichi Pass begins.
|Data updated - October 8, 2018 4WD Road driven - September 1, 2018 Copyright 4X4Explore.com - 2000-2018|