Waunita Pass  
USGS 7.5' Map: Whitepine, Pitkin
Difficulty: Number: Miles: Altitude: Obstacles: Time:
Easy - 1 FR 763 10.30 9,000 to 10,300 ft. NA 1-2 hours
County: Gunnison
Adopted by:      
Managed by: Grand Mesa/Uncompahgre/Gunnison National Forest
Gunnison Ranger District
216 N. Colorado
Gunnison, CO 81230
Summary: Waunita Pass is an easy 4WD road that connects Pitkin with Wuanita Park. It has switchbacks on both the north and south side of the pass that climb through the forest.
Attractions: Scenery
Natural - Waunita Pass is closed by snow
Best Time: June - Best, possible snow drifts
July - Best
August - Best
September - Best, fall colors
October - Best
Trail Heads
FT 640 and FT 644 are accessed from the pass
Camping: The higher elevations around the top of the pass offer some dispersed camping. The lower parts of the pass, both north and south sides have private property to be aware of.
Base Camp: This would be a good place to base camp to explore the roads around Wuanita Park.
Fall Colors: Average - The lower parts of the pass will offer some views. The top of the pass is all pine forest.
Navigation: From Gunnison, CO head east on US Hwy 50 for 18.5 miles. Turn left on to Cnty Road 887. Go 8.8 miles, passing Waunita Hot Springs Resort and turn left onto Cnty Road 763, Wuanita Pass Road.

From Pitkin, CO head southwest on Main Street toward 4th Street. Take the second left onto 3rd Street. Take the first right onto State Street, then the second left onto 1st Street. 1st Street turns right and becomes Cnty Road 763, Waunita Pass Road.
History: Waunita Pass was used as a shortened connection between the Pitkin and Tomichi mining districts. Pitkin is the oldest incorporated town on the western slope. The first gold strike was in the summer of 1878 by Frank Curtis, Wayne Scott, Jed Watson, William Jackson, and A. R. Campbell. It was first named Quartzville but in 1880 the town was renamed after Governor Frederick W. Pitkin. After the Denver and South Park railroad reached Pitkin on July 12, 1882 via the Alpine Tunnel the pass continued to haul freight and passengers to the Waunita Hot Springs and the mines around Tomichi.

Waunita Hot Springs sits in Waunita Park and was used by the Ute Indians who frequented the estimated 100 springs that produce 4,320,000 gallons of 110 degree to 190 degree water per day. As the legned goes, Waunita was a beautiful Ute maiden in love with a Shoshoni warrior. The warrior was killed in battle after which the maiden wandered the valley grieving for her lost love. She died a few days later and was buried in a small cave in the park. After her burial, hot springs sprang forth wherever her tears had fallen to earth.

Originally called Tomichi, meaning hot or boiling, Hot Springs the lower springs area became known as the resort of Elgin in 1882. The upper springs were called Waunita and were settled by Col. Moore who consructed a Hot Springs House. In 1883 the springs at Elgin also were owned by Col. Moore and became Waunita Hot Springs. In the 1900's the springs were know as a world famous health resort. Today Waunita Hot Springs is a dude ranch style resort.
Gold was discovered below the pass on May 26, 1903 by J.C. Bowerman and the short lived town of Bowerman was established. Originally called Nuggett City the name was changed on July 23, 1903 to Bowerman. The Independent Mine was the largest in the area. Bowerman had a school, saloons, restaurants and boarding houses. There was also the Sandy Hook Ore Mill to process the output from the mines. But, by 1911 Bowerman was a ghost town and Waunita Pass was no longer used.
Koch, Don. The Colorado Pass Book, 3rd ed. Boulder, Colorado: Pruett, 2000. Print.
Helmuth, Ed and Gloria. The Passes of Colorado Boulder, Colorado: Pruett, 1994. Print.
Gunnison County Chamber of Commerce Ghost Towns and 20 Circle Tour trips of the Gunnison County Gunnison, Colorado: B&B printers. Print.
Waunita Pass divides Quartz Creek to the northa and Hot Springs Creek to the south. Waunita Pass is a short pass between Pitkin and Waunita Park. It offers connections to other 4WD roads in the area. The lower sections of the pass cross private property.

From the south side, out of Waunita Park, the road runs up Lincoln Gulch following Hot Springs Creek. After two switchbacks you reach Wuanita Pass between Copper Mountain and Little Baldy. From the top the road continues down Wade Gulch doing two more switchbacks. It comes out southwest of Pitkin, Colorado after crossing over to Powerhouse Gulch. A short distance following Quartz Creek brings you into Pitkin.
Data updated - December 29, 2017    4WD Road driven - September 4, 2011    Copyright 4X4Explore.com - 2000-2018