Shrine Pass  
USGS 7.5' Map: Vail Pass, Red Cliff
Difficulty: Number: Miles: Altitude: Obstacles: Time:
Graded FR 709 10.80 8,700 to 11,090 ft.   3-4 hours
County: Eagle, Summit
Adopted by:      
Managed by: White River National Forest,
Holy Cross Ranger District
24747 US Hwy 24 (P.O. Box 190)
Minturn, Colorado 81645
Summary: The Shrine Pass road connects Vail Pass with Red Cliff. It has views of Holy Cross Mountain.
Attractions: Scenery
Agency - Nov 16 to June 20
Best Time: June - Seasonal Closure until late
July - Best
August - Best
September - Best
October - Early snows possible
Trail Heads
Shrine Mountain Trail, FT2016
Camping: Their are many dispersed campsites along the Shrine Pass road.
Base Camp: This would be a good area to base camp. Other roads in the area are Holy Cross City, McAllister Gulch, Lime Creek, and Wurtz Ditch.
Fall Colors: Good - There are some stands of aspen along the road at the Red Cliff side.
Navigation: From Frisco, CO. head west on E Main Sreett toward 3rd Ave for 0.8 miles. Turn left to merge onto I-70 West and go 10.4 miles. Take exit 190 toward Shrine Pass Road and go 0.3 miles. Turn left onto Shrine Pass Road crossing the interstate and go 0.1 miles. The right going up hill is the Shrine Pass road.

From Vail, CO. head northeast on I-70 East for 15.6 miles. Take exit 190 toward Rest Area and go 0.2 miles. Turn right going up hill to start the Shrine Pass Road.

Alternate from Vail, CO. head southwest on I-70 West toward Exit 173 for 3.3 miles. Take exit 171 to merge onto US-24 E/US-6 E toward Minturn. Continue to follow US-24 East for 10.4 miles. Turn left onto Forest Road 709and go 0.6 miles. Take the 1st left to stay on Forest Road 709, the Shrine Pass road.
History: "Shrine" Pass is named for its great views of the Mount of the Holy Cross. It was used by the Ute Indians and later by those looking for silver or a homestead.

At the west end of Shrine Pass is the town of Red Cliff. The town got its start in 1879 when prospectors from Leadville discovered ore on Battle Mountain and Horn Silver Mountain and created a settlement where Turkey Creek joins the Eagle River. Soon cabins and a general store were constructed and a mill site selected. The miners a prospectors named the town after the red bluffs that surround the site. A smelter was constructed by the Battle Mountain Mining and Semlting Company, which produced lead bullion. Once the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad arrived the smelter was shut down and the ore was shipped to Leadville for processing.

The Red Cliff post office opened in 1880. In 1885 the name was changed to Redcliff, then ten years later changed back to Red Cliff. The Red Cliff post office closed in 1979. In 1881 the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad reached Red Cliff making the town the terminus of the railroad untill 1887. During this time stage coaches head to the west and north from Red Cliff. The town newspaper was called "The Shaft", allowing residents to claim that they got the shaft.

Jessen, Kenneth Ghost Towns Colorado Style, Volumn 2, 1st ed. Loveland, Colorado: J.V. Publications, 1999. Print.
Shrine pass is an easy graded dirt road. Heading west from the Vail Pass Rest Area you will cross two switchbacks as you climb up to an open area above vail pass. From here the road heads northwest. There are a few larger dispersed camp sites along this stretch.

After about two miles you will pass a road to a private resort. Just past this you will come to a trail head parking lot. After about 3.5 miles there will be a right turn to Lime Creek, FR728. The road will now head south west and continue through forest stands with open meadow. There will be a few spur roads off of Shrine Pass road that lead to camp sites along the creek. After another three miles you will come to an open area and an intersection to the left, Dennison, FR758, which has an old cabin just up from the Shrine Pass road. Dennison only goes about a quarter mile before it ends. To the right of the Dennison road down by the creek is a dispersed camp site.

The road will head into the trees and head down some rougher sections as it follows the creek. After about a mile and a half there will be an intersection to the left. This is the McAllister Gulch and Wearyman Creek 4WD roads. McAllister Gulch is a moderately difficult 4WD road that ends up at Camp Hale. Wearyman Creek is an easy 4WD road the heads to Ptarmigan Pass. After just over a mile you will leave the public lands and will be traveling through private property. In about a mile you will reach Redcliff and Highway 24.
Data updated - March 18, 2015        4WD Road driven - July 25, 2014        Copyright - 2000-2015