Sunday, February 23, 2020

Cottonwood Pass, the Second Highest Paved Mountain Pass in America


This is the view we had from our hotel window in Buena Vista, Colorado of a few of the Collegiate Peaks in the Sawatch Mountain Range in Central Colorado last October. We were excited to hear that the nearby Cottonwood Pass had reopened in September after being closed for three years of extensive road work.  At 12,126 feet elevation, it became the second-highest paved mountain pass in the United States after Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park which is at 12,183 feet elevation.  We decided to take a scenic drive over the pass all the way from Buena Vista to Crested Butte.

My husband has driven us over many Colorado mountain passes after we moved to Colorado seven years ago.  I usually sit next to him as he drives as I like to take photos.  I might be leaving some mountain passes out, but here's a list of those we driven over so far with highlighted links to a blog post about them:  Hoosier Pass, Loveland Pass, Guanella Pass, Independence Pass McClure Pass, Berthoud Pass,  Rabbit Ears Pass, Kebler Pass, Monarch Pass, Kenosha Pass, Raton Pass between New Mexico and Colorado,  Red Mountain Pass on The Million Dollar Highway, Pagosa Pass, La Veta Pass, and Vail Pass.  All are beautiful!  Cottonwood Pass is at a high elevation so it is closed for winter, usually, from November to May when there can be twenty-five feet or more of snow in the mountains!


It took three years, around $34 million, and some 90 pieces of road-building equipment to re-engineer the 31 mile Cottonwood Pass and make it a safe and beautifully scenic road--CR 306 on the Chaffee County side, CR 209 in Gunnison County.  Improvements included two 11-foot paved travel lanes with shoulders, guardrails, protection from rockfall, and additional parking areas at the summit and Denny Creek.


As we drove, we were surrounded by dense forests and mountain views...



...on an asphalt surface of the road that was smooth as glass.



From the eastern side of Cottonwood Pass, it did not take too long to reach the summit.


There is parking at the summit, trails, and a sign showing that we were traveling over the continental divide where water would feed on the eastern side to the Atlantic Ocean, and from the western side to the Pacific Ocean.



The summit vistas were magnificent!


We hiked for a while at the summit to enjoy the "top of the world" views and then continued our drive.


We continued driving on the western portion of Cottonwood Pass...



...and stopped again at Taylor Park Reservoir, at 9,500 feet elevation, to enjoy the view of the Sawatch Mountains in the distance.



We also stopped at the Taylor Park Dam to take photos.




Although autumn of 2019 was delayed by unusually warm weather, the colors here were brighter than in other areas.



The Taylor River was particularly pretty.



There were many ranches in this area around Almont,  Colorado, which was very evident by all the cattle we saw freely strolling around near the road...


...and even on the road!


They did not have a care in the world!


We finally reached Crested Butte.  I've blogged about this colorful ski town in the past--click here and hereOn this visit, it began to rain! We had lunch in town and continued on to travel back to Buena Vista but this time on Monarch Pass--my next post!


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40 comments:

eileeninmd said...

Hello Pat,

Beautiful views of your road on the Cottonwood Pass. My hubby would love take this drive. I like the reservoir scene and the mountains.
The cattle in the road remind of the buffalo walking down road in Yellowstone. Beautiful photos. Enjoy your day, wishing you a happy new week!

Penny from Enjoying The Simple Things said...

What a beautiful place you live in!

Dawn said...

Breath taking scenery. I see why you love it. I would be the one taking photos as well. Funny about the cattle just meandering along the road. I guess they are tagged, wonder who gets the job or rustling them up?
Dawn aka Spatulas On Parade

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

Colorado is such a gorgeous place. I always love visiting and taking a little trip with you through the mountains. Happy Monday!

Lydia C. Lee said...

What stunning mountains!! How gorgeous!

Ruth Hiebert said...

Spectacular scenery. There is just something about the mountains that thrills me.

stevebethere said...

What a lovely place thanks for the tour I enjoyed the photos and so different to where I live in central London :-)

Have a mountainoustastic week ;-)

Jeanna said...

Oh my ,cattle in the road! When we camped at Pikes Peak some kind of big, lumbering cattle, cow, I don't know what woke me up by breathing in my face. Gorgeous group of photos, you make me feel like a lazy lump.

Tamar SB said...

What stunning scenery!

Powell River Books said...

A beautiful road to drive and stop to enjoy the surroundings. - Margy

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Totally jealous of your trip over the pass. I could almost smell the mountain air and feel the cool breeze.

Angie said...

Pat - you and hubby certainly go places! And I am so tickled that you continue to share them with everyone at Mosaic Monday. We are all richer for the photos and your precise documentation. Smashing photos from start to finish!

ellen b. said...

Glorious scenery. Beautiful photos, Pat!

Fun60 said...

An incredible feat of engineering to construct such ahigh mountain pass. The views look stunning.

Photo Cache said...

What a picturesque place you live in.

Worth a Thousand Word

riitta k said...

Wow - fantastic views & great photos ❤︎

Jeanie said...

I was all excited you had little snow and so many leaves until I re-read the post and realized this was October! These are the kinds of photos I love to see in the midst of winter -- wonderful reminders of things to come. What a glorious roadtrip. That looks like a wonderful way to spend the day. I'll be eager for more!

Julie's Creative Lifestyle said...

What a beautiful place to visit and I love the mountain. Thanks for the visit to my blog and your comment on the cauliflower salad I made.

betty-NZ said...

That's quite a fabulous trip! I love the wonderful scenery, I'm so glad you shared your photos with us :)

Thanks for linking up at 'My Corner of the World' this week!

My Corner of the World

Lady Fi said...

The scenery is gorgeous!

the 4 M's said...

Beautiful views! We need to take our boys to Colorado one year!
www.chezmireillefashiontravelmom.com

likeschocolate said...

Gorgeous landscape!

rupam sarma said...

Wow stunning views. Awesome pics.

Jim said...

Great post

Spare Parts and Pics said...

Wow, that's really getting up there! I think I've only been at that elevation a few times, back when I used to ski. I'm guessing you really notice the elevation when you go on a hike. Really pretty vistas!

Julie said...

Beautiful views of a great Pass!
Stunning!

Mother of 3 said...

what stunning views! I can see why you were so excited it was open once again.

Saun said...

The views are beautiful ! The cows roaming around loose amazes me . Thanks for taking us along on your journey.

Saun in Ohio

Small City Scenes said...

Beautiful very high pass. I thought we had some high passes in this state but not the Continental Divide. Lovely
MB

Carolina G. Ticala said...

Muy interesante el post! Es un placer leerte! 🤗🤗🤗 Feliz fin de semana! 🎀🎀🎀

Ann said...

Beautiful as always Pat!

Michelle said...

I love seeing all of the places you and your husband visit. Gorgeous photos and I have no doubt you both have fun everywhere you go. Thanks for linking up.

MarilynsTreats said...

Thank you for sharing at #OverTheMoon. Pinned and shared. Have a lovely week. I hope to see you at next week’s party too! Come party with us at Over The Moon! Catapult your content Over The Moon! @marilyn_lesniak @EclecticRedBarn

Anu said...

Hello. Awesome views. Beautiful mountains. Thank you.

eileeninmd said...

Hello Pat, I love the scenic views, such a beautiful place. It is neat seeing the cattle in the road, I guess they like to wander. Great post and beautiful photos. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Enjoy your day, wishing you a great new week ahead. PS, thank you for visiting and commenting on my blog.

Treat and Trick said...

Your photos are just amazing! Have learned a lot about Colorado...

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Beautiful bright pictures... Colorado is really incredibly unbelievably gorgeous! Especially in Autumn. It’s wonderful you two have driven over all of the passes. I love how you’ve made the whole State your true home. It’s almost hard to remember sometimes that you came from that big City “back East”!

handmade by amalia said...

You take us to the nicest places, Pat. Gorgeous photos.
Amalia
xo

April J Harris said...

I have never been to Colorado, Pat, but I really enjoyed this virtual visit through your blog post. Cottonwood Pass looks incredible, and I loved your wonderful photographs. Thank you for sharing your adventures with us at the Hearth and Soul Link Party. I'm featuring this post at the part this week. Thank you for sharing it. Have a great week!

William Kendall said...

Magnificent landscapes!