Imogene Pass, one of the highest roads in Colorado

Imogene Pass
Imogene Pass

The Imogene Pass is a challenging and spectacular route that connects the towns of Telluride and Ouray in the state of Colorado, USA. With an elevation of 13,114 feet (3,997 m), it is the second-highest pass in Colorado that vehicles can cross.

The pass cuts through a ridge and traverses the San Juan Mountains, making it the highest mountain pass in the area. It is only suitable for 4×4 vehicles and may not be suitable for inexperienced drivers.

Where is Imogene Pass located?

Imogene Pass is a high mountain pass in the San Juan Mountains in the southwestern part of the US state of Colorado. It rises to 3,997 meters above sea level (13,114 feet).

It is located near the famous Million Dollar Highway.

You can situate the Imogene Pass on the map below:

Enlarge the map

Facts about the Imogene Pass road

Road description:

This road is not paved. As a result, it is only accessible to 4×4 vehicles.

The drive from Ouray to Telluride will take approximately 4 hours to drive 20 kilometers (12 miles).

The highest point will be at 3,997 meters (13,114 ft) above sea level. That makes this pass one of the highest drivable passes in the United States.

However, this route should only be attempted by those with experience behind the wheel. It should not be taken as an easy one as the road is rocky, steep, and in some places very narrow, making it dangerous to drive. Indeed, it is strongly recommended that vehicles attempting the climb have the right equipment.

History of the road:

It used to be a busy mining road that connects two mining valleys. It was opened as a tourist route for 4WD vehicles in 1966.

A fort was built, “Fort Peabody” in 1904 by the Colorado National Guard at the top of the pass to prevent union miners from crossing during a labor strike.

Fort Peabody
Fort Peabody after restoration

The first long-distance power line was built over Imogene Pass to transport electricity from the town of Telluride to the Camp Bird mine in the early 20th century.

Things to do nearby the Imogene Pass

Get time to explore San Juan Forest during your journey. Havilland Lake doubles the beauty of it. You can go fishing, hiking or hunting. Also, camping could be a good idea during the late spring or summer.

Additionally, you can see the abandoned mines in your entire journey. You will feel as if you are visiting this road in ancient times. Stop at the abandoned Ouray mines and walk there, you will feel a special mood, as you are in a ghost city.

If you drive nearby the pass in winter, and you are a ski or snowboard fan you will be very happy: near Silverton, you will find a non-common ski resort. Indeed, Silverton Mountain is a ski resort with only one lift and a huge area of off free ride skiing. You even can practice heli-skiing there.

If you want a more habitual place to ski, you should consider the Telluride ski resort.

Also, every year on the first Saturday after Labor Day there is an annual foot race is held over the pass between Ouray and Telluride.

How to get to the Imogene Pass

You can drive the Imogene Pass from both sides. From Ouray or from Telluride.

If you are coming from Denver you can also make a detour via the Loveland Pass which is quite amazing by the way! Then, you can drive through the Monarch Pass.

You visualize how to get there on this map of the drive:

Is the Imogene Pass road Open?

The Imogene Pass road in Colorado is generally open from May to November (but is usually blocked by snow until early July and can be close in early October). Also, it can be close at any time in case of snowstorms or avalanches. You can check if the pass is open on this site.

Also, we advise you to respect the speed limit at 15mph (25 km/h) and not drive there at nighttime!

A preview of this legendary road:

You can obviously explore this road without going there if you are not comfortable going there yourself or if you want to check the conditions.

Here is a YouTube video that shows this road:

If you have the opportunity to be in Colorado, it can be definitely a great idea to drive the Imogene Pass as it is one of the most scenic drivable mountain paths in the region. You will surely enjoy the landscapes and the drive!

Pictures sources:  im me on flickr / By KOWpiper CC BY-SA 3.0,

Discover other roads around in the United States: click here or see our road map!