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Colorado’s High Passes Remain Closed Deep Into Summer

Colorado's high passes remain closed

Like many states in the American West, Colorado saw record snowpack levels in the winter of 2022-2023. Some parts of the state saw as much as 140 percent of average accumulation, and stream runoffs are still high across the Centennial State. As a result, many of Colorado’s high passes remain closed deep into the summer season.

If you’re planning a trip to Overland Expo Mountain West and are considering some off-road exploring on some of these well-known and magnificent high-altitude routes, take heed. Resource-strapped rural counties in Colorado are usually tasked with monitoring and maintaining remote mountain roads, and because of this year’s epic winter, snow banks and road damage have conspired to keep explorers off the trails—at least some of them.

Allegedly seeking Instagram glory, some would-be pioneers attempted to force open the famous Black Bear Road (top elevation: 12,844 feet, and immortalized in a C.W McCall spoken word track) of their own accord. It did not end well, as a Twitter thread from the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office reports.

Venturing onto closed roads, especially in remote environments like the high Rocky Mountains, is dangerous business (not to mention illegal). Not only are you risking your rig and possibly your life, but you’re also putting others at risk, including first responders. In addition, this kind of behavior tars all of us who venture off-road with a dark brush and can lead to permanent closures down the line, which nobody wants. While we don’t generally condone name-calling at Expedition Portal (please see our forum rules for more on this), I did have a chuckle at the Sheriff’s Office referring to these particular tourists as “ass clowns”. Travel responsibly for all of our sakes.

Black Bear Road remains closed.

Images: San Miguel County Sherrif’s Office via Twitter

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Stephan Edwards is the associate editor of Expedition Portal and Overland Journal. He and his wife, Julie, once bought an old Land Rover sight unseen from strangers on the internet in a country they'd never been to and drove it through half of Africa. After living in Botswana for two years, Stephan now makes camp at the foot of a round mountain in Missoula, Montana. He still drives that Land Rover every day. An anthropologist in his former life and a lover of all things automotive, Stephan is a staunch advocate for public lands and his writing and photography have appeared in Road & Track, Overland Journal, and Adventure Journal. Find him at @venturesomeoverland on Instagram.