Vail Pass

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Vail Pass
DSCN2091 vailpassrestarea e 600.jpg
Rest area on Interstate 70 on the east side of Vail Pass. The ski runs at Copper Mountain are visible in the background.
Elevation 10,662 ft (3,250 m)[1]
Traversed by I-70
Location Eagle / Summit counties, Colorado, United States
Range Rocky Mountains
Coordinates 39°31′50″N 106°13′02″W / 39.53056°N 106.21722°W / 39.53056; -106.21722Coordinates: 39°31′50″N 106°13′02″W / 39.53056°N 106.21722°W / 39.53056; -106.21722[1]
Topo map USGS Vail Pass
Vail Pass is located in Colorado
Vail Pass

Vail Pass is a 10,662 feet (3,250 m) high mountain pass in the Rocky Mountains of central Colorado. The pass was named for Charles Vail, a highway engineer.

Vail Pass lies on the boundary between Eagle and Summit counties, between Vail on the west and Copper Mountain on the east. It provides the route of Interstate 70 (and earlier U.S. Highway 6) between the upper basins of the Eagle River and the Blue River, both tributaries of the Colorado River. Black Gore Creek, a tributary of Gore Creek, in the watershed of the Eagle, descends from the north side of the pass towards the town of Vail. West Tenmile Creek, in the watershed of the Blue, descends from the south side. The pass is significantly steep on either side (7 to 8%), and two runaway truck ramps are available on the west bound side for trucks.

The pass was not a traditional historical route of the Rockies. Prior to 1940, the most common route westward was over nearby Shrine Pass, just to the south, which leads to the town of the Red Cliff in the upper Eagle Valley. In 1940, the construction of U.S. Highway 6 bypassed Shrine Pass in favor of the current route to the valley of Gore Creek.

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