Cottonwood Pass

Buena Vista & Salida, Colorado

Scenic Drives

Buena Vista & Salida, Colorado are located along the Collegiate Scenic Byway. This is an amazing drive and there are many other driving tours in the area. Jeeps, Slingshots and motorcycles are available for rent.

Fall is the best time to explore our mountain passes. Cottonwood Pass is now completely paved on both sides of the Continental Divide. Independence Pass is a great day trip to Aspen. Take Monarch Pass from Salida to Gunnison or try the dirt route over Marshall Pass.

We expect the best fall colors to be during the middle of September to early October.
 

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Scenic Drive Map

SCENIC DRIVES

Collegiate Peaks Scenic Byway

Collegiate Peaks Scenic Byway is an inspiring 57 miles full of breath-taking views of the largest concentration of 14ers in the country. The byway gets its name from the prominent Sawatch Range peaks named after Ivy League Universities: Oxford, Harvard, Columbia, Yale, and Princeton.

Collegiate Peaks

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Independence Pass

Independence Pass

Independence Pass is only open in the summer for scenic drives. Take Hwy 24 north along the Arkansas River, past the historic town of Granite. Turn left onto Hwy 82 and switchback your way to an elevation of 12,095 ft. The top of the pass offers restrooms and scenic mountain views  from the overlook. You can turn back here or continue over the Continental Divide to Aspen, Basalt, and Carbondale before heading over Kebler Pass (Open only in the summer) and through the historic mountain town and ski resort of Crested Butte.

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Cottonwood Pass

Topping out at 12,126 feet, the Cottonwood Pass road, is also known as Chaffee County Road 306. Cottonwood Pass connects with Taylor Reservoir, leading to Almont, Gunnison and Crested Butte, making it an excellent summer trip. During the winter, the road is closed, but the pass is groomed for winter activities and snowmobiling.

Cottonwood Pass

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Marshall Pass

Marshall Pass

History buffs will love this route which follows the original railroad grade for the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad enroute to Salt Lake City from Denver in the late 1800’s. Beginning on County Road 200, off of Hwy 285, a few miles south of Poncha Springs, this graded dirt road passes a historic townsite and a beautiful alpine lake before topping out just below tree line at 10,842’.

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AERIAL VIDEO
 

monarch-aerial-tram

Monarch Pass

Twenty-two miles above Salida, Monarch Pass connects the Arkansas River Valley to the Gunnison Valley along US Hwy. 50. On this scenic drive you will pass Monarch Mountain and as you cross the Continental Divide 11,312′ you will see the Monarch Crest Scenic Tramway.

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Trout Creek Pass

Head east on US Hwy 50 along the Arkansas River. As you enter Bighorn Sheep Canyon, keep your eyes peeled for bighorn sheep, whitewater rafters and kayakers and folks fishing along the 102 miles of Gold Medal Waters. When you come to US 24 and US 285, you’ll top out at 9,487’ on Trout Creek Pass. Upon the descent, you’ll find Chubb Park with its unique rock formations. Once the Collegiate Peaks reveal themselves, you’ll probably find yourself saying, Now THIS is Colorado!

Trout Creek Pass