The pass lies in the Lombardy region and divides the province of Sondrio to the north and the province of Brescia to the south. The road over the pass (SS 300) connects Bormio to the northwest with Ponte di Legno to the south and is single track most on its southern section.
The Gavia Pass is often on the route of the Giro d'Italiaroad bicycle race and is sometimes designated the Cima Coppi, the highest point of the race. On 5 June 1988, the race passed over the Gavia in a snowstorm, making for an epic stage won by Erik Breukink. American Andrew Hampsten, the second place finisher, became the overall race leader and went on to win the Giro.