As part of our ongoing series, 4wheelonline is breaking down some of America’s top off-roading destinations. For today, we are keying in on the Imogene Pass.
Located in southwest Colorado, the Imogene Pass is the highest mountain pass in the San Juan Mountains (13,114 feet) and the second highest vehicular mountain crossing (behind Pikes Peak) in all of Colorado, one of the country’s most mountainous states. Along these wondrously elevated paths, drivers will be open to some of the most magnificent and awe inspiring vantage points of America’s heartland (see right… amazing, isn’t it?).
Along the rocky, rugged terrain, there are a number of obstacles that an inexperienced driver might have difficulty handling. But that’s all part of the fun! This unbelievably gorgeous path puts drivers face to face with the Imogene Creek Valley, winds them through deep forests, and shoots them across the Bridal Veil Falls and Black Bear Pass Trail.
Trail.com gives a little detail on what riders can expect, saying, “High-clearance 4WDs are recommended, though most stock SUVs are acceptable. Expect a rough road surface with rocks larger than 6 inches, but there will be a reasonable driving line available. Patches of mud are possible but can be readily negotiated; sand may be deep and require lower tire pressures. There may be stream crossings up to 12 inches deep, substantial sections of single-lane shelf road, moderate grades, and sections of moderately loose road surface.”
Not too tough. Actually, like a perfect touch of seasoning, these mild challenges serve to enhance the aesthetics and the bigger payoff points on the trail.
Undoubtedly, one of the more fascinating stretches of the trip is the pass through the Tomboy ghost town, an area that closed down back in 1927 and used to employ about 900 hardworking, salt of the earth souls. Travelling through the area, Telluride.net says, “Tomboy will not disappoint. Many of the tumbled down shakes still remain. Believe it or not, restaurants, bars, a post office and even a bowling alley were all part of the Tomboy town in the days of the wild West.”
Amazingly, this is just one of the ghost towns located on the trail, all of which add a surreal sense to the trek, helping to establish a first-rate historical experience.
In order to hit all of these spots, the trip isn’t all bare bones and knuckles. Making the trip a bit smoother for off-road enthusiasts are a number of luxuries that other trails don’t always provide. Some of these amenities include places to stop for picnic lunches and a shop to stock up on supplies.
Overall, we are going to give this trail a MODERATE difficulty level because there is a level balance between challenging obstacles and light-hearted fun. The historical venues and beautiful aesthetics, however, also give it serious points. Our overall grade when it comes the country’s best trails: B+