Rollins Pass Road

The weather forecast was for light rain, so I decided to drive Rollins Pass Road this day rather than do a long hike in the rain.  It looked like driving the west side to the pass was the better way to go, so off to the Central City Parkway I went.  Holy cow!  There's an example of your gambling dollars at work.  A bit of I-70, then on through Berthoud Pass (what a nice drive) to Rollins Pass Road which branches off of highway 40 a mile or so south of Winter Park.

Rollins Pass Road, aka Corona Pass Road, aka Moffat Road, was completed in 1873 by John Rollins.  Later in 1903, David Moffit completed a railway over Rollins Pass which was used until 1928 when a tunnel under the divide was completed.  Some of the old railway still remains, most notably the bridges.

As I work on this report, I realize that I should have taken some pictures of the bumps in the road, because they certainly were an important part of this drive.  The road is quite rough, but still drivable up to Rollins Pass.  The drive from the Winter Park turnoff to Rollins pass is about 14 miles long and took me two hours to drive.  I then hiked the remaining distance to the Needle Eye tunnel.

Be sure to click on these thumbnail photos for larger versions.

1. Much of the lower elevation parts of the road are in the woods so views there were limited.  In fact there was active logging going on and I had to work my way around some running equipment on the road a couple times.  Equipment they could probably pick my car up with.  Luckily, the workers were friendly and let me pass.  Once I gained a little elevation, the views opened up a bit.

2. Then suddenly, this trestle bridge comes into view.  I have to get up there to get a closer look.

3. So up the hill I go.  First to the left end.

4. Once I got up here I see that I could have just driven up to the other end.

5. This thing isn't in too good of shape anymore.

6. And the other end doesn't look so good either.

7. Looking back as I continued up the road.

8. Looking west toward the Winter Park ski area.  You can see the trestle bridge in this picture.

9. There must be a brochure available somewhere describing some of the sites along the way.  I wish I had it.

10. Epworth Mountain and Deadman Lake.

11. Pumphouse Lake.

12. Nearing the Rollins Pass parking area.  Notice all the old lumber.

13. The sign at Rollins Pass.

14. The view from the pass.  Betty Lake and Bob Lake are off in that direction.

15. Also from the pass, this is looking at the road as it continues east.  The road is blocked though so I can't drive any farther.  Notice all the lumber alongside the road.

16. Parts of the railway were covered with a wooden tunnel to keep the tracks clear of snow in the winter.

17. Since I couldn't drive it, this is where I starting walking.

18. I had to cross this snowfield just below the pass.

19. This is looking back to where my car is parked.  You can see it near the horizon, about 1/3 in from the left.

20. Looking east.  Look at all the lumber.

21. A panorama looking north.  Super Size It!  (275kB).

22. Looking back toward the pass.  The forecast for rain might be correct.  What do you think?  No thunder yet.

23. The road cuts through a hillside.

24. Road block.

25. Inside the cut.

26. Looking back at the cut.  There's those clouds again.

27. The second bridge.  At first I wondered if it was safe for me to walk across.  And then I thought, if the weight of the winter snow hasn't knocked this thing down yet, I sure as heck won't.  So across I went.

28. Looking back after I crossed the bridge.

29. The third bridge.  That's a natural gas pipe I think.  Again it looked strong enough for me to cross so across I went.

30. Looking back after crossing the bridge.

31. The third bridge again just a little bit farther up the road.

32. Rollins Pass Road around Yankee Doodle Lake.

33. Another road block.

34. Needle Eye Tunnel.

35. Needle Eye Tunnel.  There has been some trouble with this tunnel collapsing so I didn't go inside.  I finally decide that I better head back with the clouds looking like they look.  No thunder yet though.  I got about two thirds of the way back to my car when a light rain started to fall.

36. Oct, 2010.  I received an email from John Hayes who read this report.  He had a copy of the brochure describing the sights along the road marked by the signs like that in photo #9 above.  It's something he had saved from a visit there many years ago when he was a youngster.  He sent me a copy so I could add it here.  This is fantastic!  Many thanks to John.  Click the link below to see a PDF copy of the brochure.  Remember that this brochure is old and things have changed since then.

The Moffat Road