Pacheco Pass

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For the California wine region, see Pacheco Pass AVA.
Pacheco Pass
Coming over the summit of Pacheco Pass along CA 152.
Coming over the pass eastbound on CA 152
Elevation 1,368 ft (417 m)
Traversed by SR 152
Location Santa Clara County, California, U.S.
Range California Coast Ranges
Coordinates 37°3′59″N 121°13′7″W / 37.06639°N 121.21861°W / 37.06639; -121.21861
Pacheco Pass is located in California
Pacheco Pass
The pass lies east of Gilroy and west of Los Banos
Reference no. 829[1]

Pacheco Pass, elevation 1,368 ft (417 m), is a mountain pass located in the Diablo Range in southeastern Santa Clara County, California. It is the main route through the hills separating the Santa Clara Valley and the Central Valley.

As with most passes in the California Coast Ranges, it is not very high when compared to those in other mountain areas within the state. The road that traverses Pacheco Pass is State Route 152, which runs for 106 miles (171 km) between SR 1 in Watsonville and SR 99. Pacheco Pass Road, the western section between Gilroy and the pass itself (a distance of approximately 14 miles), is single-lane state highway in each direction and is the site of many accidents.[2]


The pass was named for Francisco Perez Pacheco of the Rancho Ausaymas y San Felipe.[3] In the 1850s, an informal variant name for the pass was Robber's Pass attributed to the frequent hold-ups experienced by travelers using the route.[4]


A trail nearby, through what is now Pacheco State Park, was used by the Yokuts people to cross the mountains and trade with other native people on the coast.[5] Spanish army officer Gabriel Moraga first recorded the pass in 1805.[1] Since then, it has been a major route between the Santa Clara Valley and the Central Valley. It was the site of one of the stage stations on the route of the Butterfield Overland Mail stagecoach route which connected the Saint Louis, Missouri with San Francisco from 1858 until 1861.[6] Other stage lines used the route thereafter until completion of the railroads within the state.

Pacheco Pass is registered as California Historical Landmark #829.[1]

Nearby features[edit]

There are no major communities between Gilroy in the Santa Clara Valley and Los Banos in the Central Valley. There are no other major crossings of the Diablo range farther south until they are crossed again by California State Route 198 at an unnamed pass some 75 miles (121 km) to the south.

On the west side of the pass lies Casa de Fruta, an extensive trading post in the valley of Pacheco Creek.[7] Originally a site devoted to selling locally produced fruit and nuts to travelers, Casa de Fruta has expanded to include a delicatessen, truckstop, RV park, and other facilities. A rural locale named Bell Station also lies along the route, between Casa de Fruta and the pass.

On the eastern slope of the pass lies the San Luis Reservoir, which stores water for the Central Valley Project and the California State Water Project.[8] The San Luis Reservoir and O'Neill Forebay operate as a pumped storage hydroelectric plant.[8] The roadway entrances to the San Luis Reservoir state recreational area and Pacheco State Park require caution entering or exiting because there are no stop signs or traffic lights and two lanes of heavy traffic in each direction.

Pacheco State Park extends to the south of the pass from its entrance on Dinosaur Point Road near the pass.[9] There is a small windfarm located at the top of the pass that can be seen from Dinosaur Point Road.

The Pacheco Pass American Viticultural Area is nearby.[10]

California High-Speed Rail[edit]

Pacheco Pass has been tentatively selected as the route that the proposed California High-Speed Rail will take between the Bay Area and the Central Valley.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Pacheco Pass". Office of Historic Preservation, California State Parks. Retrieved 2012-10-09. 
  2. ^ Grace, Anthony (1 January 2007). "California's "Haunted" Highway". Skeptic Report. Retrieved 2012-09-09. 
  3. ^ Rehart, Catherine Morison (2000), "Francisco Pacheco", Valleys Legends & Legacies III, Quill Driver Books, p. 160, ISBN 9781884995187 .
  4. ^ Shumate, Albert (1977), Francisco Pacheco of Pacheco Pass, University of the Pacific .
  5. ^ Rodebaugh, Dale (May 24, 1996), "Heiress' ancestral landholds become a Northern California state park", San Jose Mercury-News, (subscription required (help)) .
  6. ^ "CALIFORNIA. - Interesting from Washington Territory. PROGRESS OF THE INDIAN WAR. ARRIVAL OF THE OVERLAND MAIL ITINERARY OF THE ROUTE.". The New York Times. October 14, 1858. Retrieved 2012-09-09. 
  7. ^ "Gourmet Dried Fruit, Chocolate Covered Fruit, Gift Baskets, Healthy Fruit, Pomegranate Wine, Mesquite Flour at Casa de Fruta". Retrieved 2012-09-09. 
  8. ^ a b "Station Meta Data: SAN LUIS RESERVOIR (FEDERAL)". Retrieved 2012-09-09. 
  9. ^ Pacheco State Park
  10. ^ Appellation America (2007). "Pacheco Pass (AVA): Appellation Description". Retrieved Jan. 24, 2008.
  11. ^ Nelson, Erik N. (December 20, 2007), "Rail authority likes Pacheco train route", Oakland Tribune, (subscription required (help)) .

External links[edit]