At 13,114 feet, Imogene Pass is one of the highest places you can take your vehicle in the United States. In my opinion, it's also one of the most beautiful. Traveling from Telluride, Colorado to Ouray, the 17 mile long four wheel drive road tackles a variety of different obstacles, but I'd venture to say that almost any 4WD with some clearance could traverse the pass. The beautiful thing about Imogene is how accessible it is, it literally starts in downtown Telluride, if you're in the area, you have no excuse. From beautiful views of the San Juans Mountains, to high alpine tundra, and a hundred year old ghost town that was once home to 5,000 people, I assure you that you'll never regret it.
This is part two of Celebrating 'Merica in Colorado. Read part one here. [link]
After leaving Telluride, you'll start gaining elevation on your way to the Tomboy Mine.
In several spots, the trail is cut into the mountain. In the 1800s wagon trains used to traverse the same pass. Your modern 4WD has no excuse.
This is the only pass through "tunnel" on the trail.
100 years of snow, ice, and weather have eroded the Tomboy Mine to rubble.
No structures remain, but their foundations and history are resilient.
Mining equipment is strewn about the old camp.
No, this isn't a rocket booster.
Amongst the ruin, life clings to the mountain, be sure to look for the little details.
While you may think your Jeep is big, mountains do a great job of putting you into perspective.
Nearing the summit, you can see Telluride's airport, the highest in North America.
Some say the pass is now 13,117 feet, but a picture with the sign is obligatory.
There's also a mailbox with a journal inside.
We went on a rainy, dreary day, which is a unique offset to the rocky, high elevation atmosphere.
On the Ouray side, you'll find a few shallow stream crossings of no concern.
However, the best stream crossings in the area are on foot. Be sure to get out of your vehicle and explore, there's more to the area than you can see through a vehicle's window.
Recommended: High Clearance, Four Wheel Drive, Short Wheel Base. A few sections required low range, not due to technical terrain, but lack of power at 13,000 feet in an already underpowered Hummer H3T.
If you're smart, after Imogene Pass, you'll end up here.
Enjoy the adventure.
Mountain passes in Colorado can be treacherous. Although you’ll likely have no issues, don’t assume help is around the corner because you’re only 10 miles from a 5 star hotel in Telluride. People have died after taking this area as a joke.
More information can be found at the Forest Service’s website. Be sure to talk to a local, or call the local forest service office to ensure the pass is open for vehicular travel.