Colorado Mtn Passes

Mountain Passes in the Heart of the Rocky Mountains


Heart of the Rockies

This Page is of mostly about unpaved High Mountain Passes in the Arkansas, South Platte and Northern Rio Grande Watersheds Negotiable by an Adventure or Dual Sport motorcycle or a Plated Dirt Bike.

  • This is Not a comprehensive list of every Mountain Pass in Colorado.
  • This Page contains a List of Passes in the Heart of the Rockies.

Points of Interest
Points of Interest for Motorcycle rides in the Heart of the Rockies ( Clickable)
Trout Creek Pass
View of the Divide from Trout Creek Pass

Why is this area called the Heart of the Rockies ?

  • The Denver & Rio Grande Railroad called Salida and the Arkansas River Valley the Heart of the Rockies from the 1920’s to the 1990’s.
  • 4 Major American Rivers Headwaters are in the “Heart of the Rockies”

Scroll down for a List of 18 Specific Passes in the Heart of the Rocky Mountains.

Marshall Pass Railroad Map from the 1900sMarshall Pass Denver & Rio Grande Railroad Map late 1800’s

(Click to view)

  • All of the passes in the Heart of the Rockies could be negotiated by any competent rider on a properly set up ADV Motorcycle.
Ride Prep


Center of Colorado
Condensed POI Map. The Hartsel Ranch in the yellow circle is in the very Center of Colorado
  • The Passes in the Heart of the Rocky Mountains are in the headwaters and watersheds of 4 Major American Rivers:

Colorado Headwaters Map

  1. The Arkansas
  2. Rio Grande
  3. South Platte
  4. Colorado
Divide in the Background
Divide in the Background
  • The quickest route from one town to the other in the Rocky Mountains is often up and over a mountain
  • Which explains why Colorado has so many high mountain passes.
  • It’s passes like these that offer incredible rewards for those daring enough to traverse them.

Mountain Passes (A-M)

14 teeners in the Heart of the Rockies. Chaffee County. (Clickable)
  • Chaffee County has more ‘Fourteener’s than any other County in the United States.
  • Mountain Passes—trade routes during the mining era—offer long rides with stunning scenery.
  • History buffs can travel along the old Railroad lines and imagine them as they were in the early mining and Railroad days.

Mountain Passes (N-Z)

  • The plentiful Passes of the region, open spaces and majestic views offer endless opportunities for exploring.
  • With all the widespread OHV closures, knowing where to go and how to get the best out of your riding day is now more valuable than ever before.
  • We have scouted out the best routes, and eliminated the U-turns and dead-ends on all of our routes.
Mosquito Pass Summit 13,185 feet
The Highest Pass in the Country that goes somewhere in the Country is Mosquito Pass.

Hwy 50 and Hwy 285 crossroads

The Crossroads of the Rockies are in Chaffee County. Hwy’s 285 and Hwy 50.

Hwy 24 & 285 Trout Creek Pass
Hwy 24 & 285 on Trout Creek Pass
  • The Sawatch, Sangre de Cristo, Mosquito and Northern San Juan Mountain Ranges make up the Heart of the Rockies.
  • Their watersheds and passes are listed below:

Sawatch Range Passes / Continental Divide.

(Arkansas & Colorado River)

  1. Hagerman.
  2. Independence.
  3. Cottonwood.
  4. Tincup.
  5. Hancock.
  6. Cumberland.
  7. Black Sage.
  8. Old Monarch.
  9. Monarch

Sangre de Cristo Range Passes.

(Arkansas & Rio Grande River Divide)

  1. Marshall.
  2. Poncha.
  3. Hayden.
  4. Medano.

Mosquito Range Passes.

(Arkansas & South Platte River Divide)

  1. Mosquito Pass. 
  2. Weston.
  3. Trout Creek.
  4. Breakneck

Northern San Juan Range Passes.

(Rio Grande River Headwaters)

  1. Canero.
  2. Ute Pass.
  3. Otto Mears Tollroad.
Heart of the Rocky Mountain Passes
Heart of the Rocky Mountain Passes (Clickable)

Numbered Passes of the Heart of the Rocky Mountains


Mountain Passes (A-M)

Mountain Passes (N-Z)


Rail History Chaffee County

Rail History Links

Crossroads of the Rockies Area History