Best time to visit Colorado

Owl Creek Pass in Colorado

Aspen and pine forests, rugged peaks, and picturesque lakes make an exceptionally scenic drive

Best time: June–October

Owl Creek Pass
Owl Creek Pass

Owl Creek Pass is a beautiful drive in the Uncompahgre National Forest, in Gunnison County, Colorado. A mountain pass at an elevation of 10,114 ft (3,083 m) can be reached by a gravel road that doesn't require a 4WD car. The road lies in the shadows of Cimarron Range peaks in southwestern Colorado. The scenic road was featured in a 1969 western True Grit: Then and Now. This iconic John Wayne movie showcased the beautiful landscapes of the area.

How to get to Owl Creek Pass

To get to Owl Creek Pass, head south from Cimarron on Cimarron Road (Route 858) and then continue to Owl Creek Pass. A 42 mi (67-km) gravel road is well maintained and comfortable to drive. Tall aspen trees and pines surrounded by red sandstone cliffs make a beautiful backdrop for fall landscape photography.

When is Owl Creek Pass open

Owl Creek Pass closes down for winter after the first heavy snowfall, which is usually in late October. The road is typically open by June and stays open throughout the summer and early fall. Make sure to check the status and conditions on the road at San Juan National Forest website or at Ouray County webpage if you plan to visit during spring or fall.

What to do on Owl Creek Pass road

Owl Creek Pass is a somewhat remote place featuring picturesque rivers, lakes, creeks, spruce and fir woods, and interesting rock formations such as turrets and hoodoos. Meadows are full of amazing wildflowers in the summer months. There are plenty of campgrounds where visitors can spend a night or two taking their time to explore the area. Uncompahgre Wilderness offers numerous hiking trails. The Silver Jack Reservoir, about 15 miles (24 km) from the pass, is an excellent hiking destination with many trails along the five-mile shoreline. Beaver Lake is another nearby area that's worth checking out for fishing and other recreational activities.

Camping at Owl Creek Pass

Dispersed camping is possible at Uncompahgre National Forest. There is even a camping spot at the summit of Owl Creek Pass. Another great spot to camp for the night is The Silver Jack Reservoir Campground. It has 60 campsites in a wooded area. The campground operates during summer. No reservation is required.

Practical info

How long does the drive along Owl Creek Pass take?

Driving through Owl Creek Pass can take from 2-4 hours due to the gravel road, sharp turns, and narrow areas. Visitors can take pictures and enjoy the wildlife and breathtaking views along the 42-mile (67 km) trip. Safety is vital, and visitors should drive slowly. Show more

What wildlife can be seen in the Owl Creek Pass area?

Owl Creek Pass presents various wildlife like bighorn sheep, black bears, deer, elk, and mountain goats. Bird enthusiasts can observe ptarmigans, grouse, and several raptor species in the area. Visitors should exercise caution and avoid getting too close to the wildlife. Binoculars are useful for wildlife watching. Show more

Are there any restrictions on fishing in the area?

Fishing enthusiasts can engage in their activities in the lakes and streams surrounding Owl Creek Pass, but they have to comply with the fishing regulations. Visitors must possess a valid Colorado fishing license and follow the bag and possession limits. The Colorado Fishing Brochure provides specific information on regulations. Show more

Can I take my RV or trailer to Owl Creek Pass?

The road to Owl Creek Pass is gravel and not suitable for large RVs due to the lack of facilities and campgrounds. Visitors with trailers should verify the weather and the road conditions before traveling. Many campsites and RV parks are accessible from neighboring towns like Montrose, Ouray, or Ridgway. Show more

What is the weather like in Owl Creek Pass during summertime?

Owl Creek Pass enjoys mild weather in summer, ranging from 40°F (4°C) to 70°F (21°C), but abrupt temperature changes are possible. Visitors should always carry suitable clothing and gear for sudden weather changes that can include hailstorms, thunderstorms, and rainfall. The area's proximity to the mountains and the altitude could result in lower temperatures than in nearby towns. Show more

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