Red Mountain Pass (San Juan Mountains)
|Red Mountain Pass|
|Elevation||11,018 ft (3,358 m)|
|Traversed by||US 550 (Million Dollar Highway)|
|Location||Ouray / San Juan counties, Colorado, U.S.|
|Range||San Juan Mountains|
The pass straddles a divide that separates Ouray and San Juan counties. The pass is named for the nearby Red Mountain on the northeast side of the pass. The name is derived from the iron oxide laden rock that forms their slopes.
The pass separates the Uncompahgre and Las Animas River watersheds, and also serves as a dividing point between the Uncompahgre and San Juan National Forests. The pass is traversed by the Million Dollar Highway, U.S. Highway 550 between Ouray and Silverton, which is part of the San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway.
The pass is known for being treacherous in the wintertime due to the steep 8% grade and switchbacks on the north side facing Ouray, though the entire road is paved. Avalanches are frequent, and can block the highway for some time. The lower part of the pass towards Ouray is blasted into near-vertical cliffs of quartzite hundreds of feet above Red Mountain Creek and the Uncompahgre River. This section of road is winding, narrow and has no shoulder.
The Red Mountain Mining District lies from the divide northward to Ironton Park, halfway down towards Ouray. It was the site of a historic silver boom from 1882 until 1893, including the Yankee Girl and National Belle. Head frames of the old workings are still visible from the highway, as are the remains of the three largest communities: Red Mountain Town, Ironton, and Guston. The sprawling Idarado Mine (Treasury Tunnel) continued digging until the 1970s, and reclamation of tailings is ongoing.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Red Mountain Pass.|
- "Red Mountain Pass". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2011-02-05.
- "Guston, Colorado". Western Mining History. Retrieved 9 March 2021.
- Smith, P. David, (2004) "Mountains of Silver; Life in Colorado's Red Mountain Mining District": Western Reflections Publishing Co.