Frequently Asked Questions

Your most frequently asked questions (FAQs) about Rollins Pass and the Moffat Tunnel, answered here! Please email [email protected] with any additional questions. Looking for something specific? Use your browser’s search feature to locate a keyword—or keywords—of interest.

Index of Topics

Rollins Pass: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How is Rollins Pass viewed by indigenous tribes?

Rollins Pass is considered a sacred area by both Ute as well as Arapaho tribes.

Is it Rollins Pass or Corona Pass?

Rollins Pass has been known by several names. Boulder Pass was the original name, which later became Rollins Pass, named after John Quincy Adams Rollins. The railroad station at the summit was named Corona, consequently Corona Pass is a variant name used by the railroad for tourism purposes. Mountain passes are not customarily named for their apex stations: Fremont Pass, not Climax; La Veta Pass, not Fir; and Rollins Pass, not Corona. Today, Grand County refers to the pass by this appellation almost exclusively. Area author Frederick Bauer bluntly wrote, “[Rollins Pass is] incorrectly called Corona Pass by neophytes and some locals.”

Rollins Pass is the official name used by the US Geological Survey and is also the name officially recognized by the US Board on Geographic Names. In fact, the name “Corona Pass” does not exist in the official federal government geographic nomenclature—only Rollins Pass. The use of the correct name is also a safety issue: avalanche bulletins and news articles make reference to ‘Rollins Pass’ only.

What other names are used for Rollins Pass?

Corona Pass, Boulder Pass, and South Boulder Pass. Little-used sobriquets include Rollinsville Pass, Dart Pass, and Moffat Pass.

Who was John Quincy Adams Rollins?

John Quincy Adams Rollins was born in New Hampshire and joined the ranks—and naturally the history books—as a pioneer from a family of Colorado pioneers. In Middle Park, Rollins built the first bridge over the Grand (Colorado) River; in Rollinsville, Rollins was elected mayor in 1881. Four days after his 78th birthday, Rollins died on June 20, 1894, and is buried in Denver’s oldest operating cemetery, Riverside, in block 5, lot 12. His simple tombstone reads, “John Q.A. Rollins | Colorado Pioneer of Rollinsville and Rollins Pass,” yet his legacy is bequeathed to future generations; the spirit of Rollins is eternal.

Who was David Moffat?

David Halliday Moffat Jr. was born on Monday, July 22, 1839, in Washingtonville, New York. Moffat himself was a warm, larger-than-life character who was never too busy to listen and lend assistance whenever possible; a man like this becomes legendary and begets legends. Moffat’s leadership style was atypical of a company president—past or present. Railroad workers recalled that he would regularly chat with them in the crew compartment of the locomotive, as the train moved from town to town. When Moffat’s investors were riding in his private railroad car, Marcia, Moffat insisted that his workers ate before anyone else. Moffat’s first-class treatment of his mountain men guaranteed they gave him their very best as well. Moffat hired youth with youthful indiscretions. Dan Crane, a former Santa Fe Railway worker, came to Moffat with papers, “Discharged for insubordinating [sic] the road foreman of engines and drinking intoxicating liquors to excess. Services otherwise satisfactory.” Crane was hired and worked as an engineer and fireman on Rollins Pass.

Where is Rollins Pass?

Rollins Pass is a mountain pass located in the Southern Rocky Mountains of north-central Colorado, located on the Continental Divide roughly east of Winter Park and west of Rollinsville.

What county is Rollins Pass in?

Rollins Pass spans three different counties: Gilpin County, Boulder County, and Grand County.

What’s the elevation of Rollins Pass?

The elevation of 11,660 feet often shown in historical photographs reflects what might have been an original survey value obtained during either the late wagon road era or early railroad construction. A 1912 map shows 11,680 feet, but that is not based on a surveyed benchmarked location and was an estimated value based on nearby contours. The actual benchmarked survey elevation value of the summit of Rollins Pass is 11,671 feet (NGVD29), obtained during a 1952 second-order level line run from State Bridge to Denver by the US Coast and Geodetic Survey (predecessor to the National Geodetic Survey). When adjusted to NAVD88, the elevation is, without doubt, 11,676.79 feet.

Is Rollins Pass open as a motorized thoroughfare?

Despite what Google Maps or Apple Maps may show, since 1990, a complete motorized thoroughfare over the Continental Divide no longer exists; you must go back down the same side you came up. Always consult the published Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs) linked to on this page. Permanent Closures: Year-round closures to travel by wheel-to-ground vehicles per 36 CFR 261.54a (Forest Closure Order 10-00-03) include:
• NFSR 149: Permanent closure 1 mile south of Needle’s Eye Tunnel to the Continental Divide
• NFSR 501: Boulder Wagon from its intersection with the Rollins Pass Road at Yankee Doodle Lake west to a point 1/2 mile west of the Needle’s Eye Tunnel)
No motorized route connects across the Continental Divide. Per Stay the Trail Colorado, MVUMs are the legal trails you can recreate on—anything off that is out-of-bounds. Please abide by these limitations for the benefit of our continued access.

Why did Rollins Pass close as a motorized vehicle thoroughfare?

In short: Needle’s Eye Tunnel. Significant rockfalls occurred at the northeast portal of Needle’s Eye Tunnel by 1949 as well as in 1979, closing the route for nearly a decade for three different studies, engineering design, and finally rehabilitation work. Rehabilitating the tunnel triggered the Section 106 process, as any actions or proposed alterations must be federally reviewed. In the 1980s, it was documented this tunnel “is in an advanced state of deterioration,” has a “very irregular geometry,” and “much of the surface rock structure, around the portals, was damaged and weakened during construction by the excessive use of explosives in blasting.” At 11,350 feet above sea level, extreme freezing and thawing in rock fractures occurs, further accelerating the weathering process, and “the centerline of the tunnel is essentially parallel to the joint sets in the rock, which tends to create a weakened surface condition.”

Unfortunately, tunnel restoration errors led to a partial collapse, resulting in a below-knee amputation of assistant fire chief Tom Abbott in 1990. Abbott expressed, “I was lucky the firefighters [who were with me] had what it takes. They and two civilians stood in there while the ceiling was still falling and dug me out… of the pile of ‘coffee-table-sized rocks.’ ” Later that same year, a post-accident engineering report cited “faulty work: design specifications were not consistently followed… rock bolts were incorrectly spaced… gravity along with seasonal temperature variations were… factors in the accident.”

Since July 15, 1990, the tunnel has been closed and subsequently barricaded, preventing motor vehicles from crossing the Continental Divide. Given the challenging and unique terrain of the Rollins Pass route, there are no options to bypass the troublesome tunnel to the left or right: the narrow road and tunnel are on a steep shelf—a 400-500 foot drop-off exists on one side of the road while a 100-foot-tall hillside where wilderness begins is on the other side of the road.

What is the railroad history of Needle’s Eye Tunnel?

The Needle’s Eye Tunnel has had a bloody history. As reported in the Steamboat Pilot, a road contractor “once saw 60 Swedes carried out in baskets, killed when a charge of powder exploded prematurely in boring this tunnel.” Almost 13 unlucky years later, a freight derailment occurred inside Needle’s Eye Tunnel as reported by the Oak Creek Times. When visiting the tunnel, history can still be seen—soot-stained rocks bear silent witness to David Moffat’s pioneering strategy of running rails at historic altitudes.

Is the route over the twin trestles open to motorized traffic?

No, this portion of the Rollins Pass route has been closed to all motorized vehicles since 1980 as indicated on Motor Vehicle Use Maps. Hikers, bicyclists, and horseback riders are allowed to travel this route over the Devil’s Slide Trestle and Phantom Bridge. Per Stay the Trail Colorado, MVUMs are the legal trails you can recreate on—anything off that is out-of-bounds. Please abide by these limitations for the benefit of our continued access.

When is the Rollins Pass road open?

Rollins Pass is seasonally open for wheeled motorized vehicle use from June 15-November 15; however, late snowfalls can and have resulted in later openings towards early July and/or early snowfalls can and have closed the pass in September. (Note the thoroughfare closures, documented directly above.) Up-to-date information about the Rollins Pass Road Status is published year-round, here.

What is the US Forest Service information phone number for the Rollins Pass area?

The US Forest Service information line for the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests is 970-295-6600. Their road status pages are updated very infrequently; click here for the Sulphur Ranger District (Rollins Pass West) and here for the Boulder Ranger District (Rollins Pass East). The “Annual Anticipated Opening Date” for Rollins Pass East is shown on the Boulder Ranger District page as May 1, however, due to substantial snow in the rock cuts, the road is not typically open to Yankee Doodle Lake until around June 21-28 each year.

Is there a train engine in Yankee Doodle Lake?

Yankee Doodle Lake both inspires and stores apocryphal stories about submerged wrecks contained within, including a 19th-century wagon, a 20th-century locomotive, and even an airplane. All variations of the anecdotes follow an identical trajectory, “if the light is just right.” However, all that can be seen in the lake is the reflection of a visitor yearning for a deeper connection to the area’s vast history.

What type of railroad was atop Rollins Pass?

There were early attempts at running narrow-gauge rails over the pass in the early 1880s, but those efforts met with failure. The Moffat Road rail route over Rollins Pass was the highest adhesion (non-cog) standard gauge railroad grade in North America.

Am I able to explore the old sites of Tolland and Ladora on the lower east side of Rollins Pass?

No, these areas are private property and are not open to the public.

Does Rollins Pass have any campsites?

Developed campsites typically have metal fire rings, picnic tables, numbered posts, garbage service, toilets, and bear-proof trash receptacles—there are no developed campsites on Rollins Pass. All camping is classified as ‘primitive’ and is only available in certain areas. Refer to the Motor Vehicle Use Maps for Rollins Pass West and Rollins Pass East for areas where camping is allowed. Any primitive sites are subject to not only first-come, first-serve and must also follow any applicable fire bans. Stage 1 (and above) fire bans prohibit fires at non-developed campsites. Visitors are required to properly store and pack out all food and trash to prevent negative interactions with bears and other wildlife.

What type of vehicle should I use to drive on Rollins Pass?

A high-clearance vehicle is recommended to avoid bottoming out on the rough road. An all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive vehicle isn’t absolutely required. As the road condition on both sides continues to deteriorate, an ATV or SxS has become the preferred method of travel for many visitors to Rollins Pass. Luxury vehicles, sports and performance cars, sedans, station wagons, and coupes are not recommended.

Can I go offroading on Rollins Pass?

Registered off-highway vehicles are welcome on Rollins Pass and all motorized vehicles (which now includes e-bikes) must adhere to Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs) linked to on this page; however, vehicles traveling on Rollins Pass are ‘off pavement’ rather than ‘off road.’ Stay the trail: the sensitive alpine tundra can take 100-500 years to fully recover. Per Stay the Trail Colorado, MVUMs are the legal trails you can recreate on—anything off that is out-of-bounds. Please abide by these limitations for the benefit of our continued access.

Is the Rollins Pass road paved?

No, the historic grade used long ago by the railroad (as well as the portions of the wagon road able to be traveled by motorized vehicle) are not paved and see little to no maintenance or improvements; for the average driver, the route will take over an hour uphill and about an hour downhill. The road is quite rough and a high-clearance vehicle is strongly recommended. Luxury vehicles, sports and performance cars, sedans, station wagons, and coupes are not recommended.

Why is the Rollins Pass road rough?

There is good reason the roadbed of Rollins Pass is rough—the road prism contains both prehistoric and historic artifacts buried under the surface. Improving the road through regrading would first require sectional archaeological excavations. In several places, on or just under the surface, historical artifacts are covered with geotextile stabilization fabrics having characteristics that match the soil and permeability of the existing roadbed.

What amenities exist on Rollins Pass?

Rollins Pass has no amenities. There are no emergency call boxes, shops, food, vending, restrooms, water fountains, fuel, electric vehicle charging stations, shelter (with the exception of the Årestua Hut on Guinn Mountain), benches, picnic tables, trash receptacles, established campgrounds, pet waste bags/stations, nor AEDs. While the west side of the pass has decent cellular coverage for most carriers; areas near the summit and on the east side of the pass have no or very limited cellular coverage.

Are there any sheltered locations on or near Rollins Pass?

The closest refuge for hikers, mountain bikers, snowshoers, and other backcountry travelers can be found at the historic Årestua Hut, also known as the Guinn Mountain Hut, located on Guinn Mountain on Rollins Pass East. This hut and nearby outhouse are open year-round on a first-come, first-served basis; for additional information about the hut, its rules and amenities, trails nearby and more, click here.

What wilderness areas are near Rollins Pass?

Rollins Pass is sandwiched between the Indian Peaks Wilderness, created in 1978, and the James Peak Wilderness, established in 2002.

What should I bring with me when hiking or bicycling Rollins Pass?

Recommendations include, but are not limited to: a first aid kit, cold weather clothing (hats, gloves, jacket)—the temperature can drop precipitously even in July/August, strobes that can be seen for 3+ nautical miles, 360° lightning detector, GPS or offline maps, a fully-charged mobile phone, SARSAT rescue beacon, emergency blankets, spare batteries, LifeStraw purifier, as much water and/or Gatorade as you can carry, and food/snacks. Expert advice on what to wear for hiking is provided here by REI. To add some historical context, a tourist visiting Corona in the summertime wrote for the August 3, 1911, Greeley Tribune, “As all those who have taken this trip know, it is one of the most scenic mountain trips in Colorado, where mountain scenery is a chief product. . . . Snow banks and wild flowers, as the literature tells you, is right.” Concluding, “The next time [the author] goes to Corona he will borrow an overcoat to take along, for there ain’t no summer up there.”

What should I bring with me when snowmobiling, snow-biking, or snowshoeing Rollins Pass?

Recommendations include, but are not limited to: an avalanche transceiver, probe, and shovel, as well as an avalanche backpack. Plus the basics: a first aid kit, cold weather clothing (hats, gloves, jacket)—the temperature can drop precipitously even on sunny, warm spring days; strobes that can be seen for 3+ nautical miles, GPS or offline maps, a fully-charged mobile phone, SARSAT rescue beacon, emergency blankets, spare batteries, as much water and/or Gatorade as you can carry, and food/snacks.

Have avalanches occurred on Rollins Pass?

Avalanches have occurred on both sides of Rollins Pass. In fact, avalanches were the cause of at least four railroad wrecks: near Jenny Lake in March 1913 and December 1919, near Yankee Doodle Lake in December 1917, and near the Loop in February 1922. There have also been several deadly avalanches in the post-railroad era: November 2001 at Yankee Doodle Lake and in February 2021 at Mount Epworth and Pumphouse Lake.

Can you walk through the Needle’s Eye Tunnel?

No, this tunnel has been barricaded at both portals due to safety concerns—officials are prevented from allowing the public to utilize facilities known to be hazardous. On July 15, 1990, Denver firefighters were passing through Needle’s Eye Tunnel on a summer mountain Jeep tour when several thousand pounds of rock unexpectedly fell from the ceiling of the tunnel injuring Assistant Fire Chief and US Navy veteran Tom Abbott, resulting in a below-knee amputation. More recently, significant rockfalls occurred between 2017 and 2018 in the center of the tunnel.

How long is the Rollins Pass road?

The overall road that can be driven: 27.7 miles; however, no motorized route connects across the Continental Divide. On the west side, it is 13.9 miles to the summit, plus an additional 1.7 miles from the summit to the blockade at the overlook above Yankee Doodle Lake. On the east side, it is 12.1 miles to the blockade before Needle’s Eye Tunnel.

Where are the US Forest Service gates located on the western portion of Rollins Pass?

There are three seasonal gates across the historic road on the western portion of Rollins Pass. The first gate is found at the entrance to the pass, located almost immediately off of US Highway 40. From this gate, it is 13.9 miles to the summit. The gate at the entrance typically opens in early-mid June. Next is the “midway” gate, located 5.5 miles up the road, just before the Forest and Morgan Spurs, and is 8.4 miles away from the summit. This gate typically opens June 15th. Finally, there’s a gate just below the Riflesight Notch Trestle, 10.2 miles from the entrance; from here, the summit is 3.7 miles away. This gate typically opens between the 15th and the 21st of June each year. The first gate is located at approximately 9,008 feet in elevation; the midway gate at approximately 10,013 feet; and the trestle gate at 11,001. Therefore, the “midway” gate is essentially midway in elevation between the upper and lower gates, not in road distance from the entrance to the summit.

Have the gates on the west side of Rollins Pass ever not opened as scheduled on June 15th?

Yes—typically the first of three gates is open (the one at the western entrance of Rollins Pass off of US Highway 40), and every few years one or more gates on Rollins Pass are not open by June 15. When this happens, there’s an additional sign posted on the gate that reads, “Extended closure due to snow, runoff, and road damage—36 CFR 261.54(a).”

Is Rollins Pass open on Memorial Day?

Rollins Pass is not open on Memorial Day weekend. On the west side, the gates blocking the road are typically opened on or around June 15th; on the east side, there are no gates, however, due to substantial snow in the rock cuts, the road is not typically open to Yankee Doodle Lake until around June 21-28 each year.

Is Rollins Pass open on Independence Day (July 4th)?

Rollins Pass is mostly open on Independence Day (July 4th). Over the last rolling decade, Rollins Pass West has been open to at least Sunnyside, located above the Riflesight Notch trestle, and usually to the summit. On the east side, Rollins Pass is typically open to Yankee Doodle Lake but is closed (by snow) at the rockcut past Yankee Doodle Lake and therefore is not passable above that point to Jenny Lake and the Forest Lakes, until about July 8-12th. Above the Forest Lakes area, snow in some years has prevented access to the highest point on the east side until the first or second week in August.

Is Rollins Pass open on Labor Day?

Rollins Pass is open on Labor Day as last winter’s snows have at last melted in all rock cuts. Early season snow storms can sometimes put higher elevations out of reach, but both sides of the pass are typically open to above 11,200 feet after any snow events in early September and any snow received typically melts within a few days.

Is Rollins Pass open on Halloween (October 31st)?

Rollins Pass is typically not open to the highest points on either side of the pass on Halloween. In most years, it’s not possible to go much higher than the Riflesight Notch Trestle on the west side and Yankee Doodle Lake on the east side. However, each year is a bit different and we invite you to check our Rollins Pass Road Status page for the latest information.

When does the Rollins Pass Road (Corona Pass Road) close for the season?

The Rollins Pass Road (Corona Pass Road) typically closes after the first few snowstorms in late September, October, or early November. In our experience, snowfall on the pass has closed the area as early as the third week in September or as late as the first week in November—and anytime in between. The gates on the west side of the pass are scheduled to always close November 15th each year. As a general rule, any snowfall received before the autumnal equinox (September 21-24) tends to melt; anything after that date tends to stick around, especially in areas that don’t receive direct sunlight. Any trips above 11,000 feet on Rollins Pass after the equinox should be considered bonus time on the pass.

Are campfires prohibited in wilderness areas on Rollins Pass?

Campfires are always prohibited in the James Peak Wilderness per this US Forest Service page. Campfires are also prohibited in the Indian Peaks Wilderness on/near Rollins Pass by King Lake, Betty Lake, Bob Lake, Buttermilk Falls, Skyscraper Reservoir, Woodland Lake, and along the South Fork of the Middle Boulder Creek—these areas are in the Woodland BZ and Middle Boulder BZ where campfires are prohibited per this US Forest Service map; the only exception is on the ridge west of the Continental Divide (above Corona Lake), known as the Columbine Backcountry Zone (BZ).

Do I need a camping permit for the Indian Peaks Wilderness?

Yes, camping permits are required from June 1 to September 15 in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Permits can be obtained at recreation.gov.

Am I able to collect souvenirs while on Rollins Pass?

The Rails that Climb: A Narrative History of the Moffat Road by Edward Bollinger is a Rollins Pass fan favorite. Reverend Bollinger mentions the 1924 derailment of Mallet No. 210 and, on page 206, writes that “you can pick yourself a souvenir today, for some of her junk is still there.” The unfortunate reality is Bollinger’s recommendation now contradicts established laws that protect artifacts and sites such as the final resting place for Mallet No. 210. Rollins Pass is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and all artifacts—from the prehistoric to the historic—are objects of antiquity and are protected by many cultural laws. The pass contains countless treasures, which are being studied and documented by universities and government agencies. Sadly, the material record of Rollins Pass is illegally carried away each year in the backpacks of well-intentioned visitors who want a souvenir. Each artifact has important scientific and cultural value and theft harms the historical record of accomplishments made on this beloved pass. Please preserve the area for future generations: be sure to take only photographs, leave only footprints and don’t pocket the past, and share discoveries with those researchers dedicated to telling the story of this important place.

What is the Continental Divide?

The Continental Divide of the Americas—a great mountainous barrier—stretches from Alaska to Panama. In Colorado, this hydrological divide varies in elevation from 10,000–14,000 feet above sea level.

What are Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs)?

Per the US Forest Service, “the Motor Vehicle Use Map is a requirement of the Travel Management Rule and reflects travel management plan decisions. The MVUM displays National Forest System (NFS) roads, trails, and areas that are designated open to motor vehicle travel. The MVUM also displays allowed uses by vehicle class (highway-legal vehicles, vehicles less than or equal to 50 inches wide, and motorcycles), seasonal allowances and provides information on other travel rules and regulations. Routes (includes both roads and trails) not shown on a MVUM are not open to public motor vehicle travel. Routes designated for motor vehicle use may not always be signed on the ground but will be identified on the MVUM. It is the public’s responsibility to reference the MVUM to determine which routes are designated for motor vehicle use. The MVUM may be updated annually to reflect new travel decisions and to correct mapping discrepancies. The MVUM is a black and white map with no topographic features. It is not a stand alone map and is best used in conjunction with a National Forest Visitor Map or other topographic map.”

Can I park in front of gates that are permanently or seasonally closed?

No; per the US Forest Service, please don’t block gates, “make sure to pull fully off roads, even gated closed roads, to ensure you don’t limit service and emergency access.”

A recent scenario proving the importance of not blocking gates was in July 2021 at the trailhead to N76 (adopted by Preserve Rollins Pass) on Rollins Pass West; a lightning strike started a forest fire and emergency crews needed urgent access to this part of Rollins Pass. Thankfully, the rapid response ensured the fire was contained and extinguished at just a quarter-acre in size.

There appears to be a significant amount of downed trees on Rollins Pass within the past few years, what happened?

Overnight from September 7-8, 2020, a significant wind event known as a derecho ran along the western slope of the Continental Divide, affecting Berthoud Pass, Jim Creek, Rollins Pass, and Devil’s Thumb trails. On Rollins Pass specifically, this affected the townsite of Arrow, Forest and Morgan Spurs, Ranch Creek Wye, N76, the valley between N76 and Ptarmigan Point, and northwest of Mount Epworth. Tens of thousands of trees were blown down suddenly and a news story was aired about this. Falling trees and uprooted trees that are leaning on other trees do present hazards, so please hike carefully and be aware of your surroundings, especially when there are windy conditions.

What railroad company operated over Rollins Pass?

The Moffat Road had several operating companies within a few decades. From July 18, 1902, through April 30, 1913, it was operated as the Denver, Northwestern & Pacific Railway. From May 1, 1913, through December 31, 1926, it was the Denver & Salt Lake Railroad, and from January 1, 1927, through April 10, 1947, it operated as the Denver & Salt Lake Railway.

What movies were filmed atop Rollins Pass?

Courtney Ryley Cooper’s book The White Desert was made into a silent film shot on Rollins Pass in 1922. The film was released on May 4, 1925, to help raise awareness (and funds) for the completion of the Moffat Tunnel. Reginald Barker was the producer and Claire Windsor, as Robinette, was the lead actress. When Claire Windsor, the star of The White Desert, arrived on Rollins Pass, she was the only actress or actor who came prepared with snowshoes, mittens, and warm clothing. Windsor’s stardom in the film led her to be crowned “Queen of the Denver Auto Show” in 1928, the year the Moffat Tunnel was opened.

In 1928, a silent movie, The Trail of ’98, was filmed in part at the town of Arrow on the west side of Rollins Pass. Filming took place in 1927 and the movie starred Harry Carey as Jack Locasto and Dolores del Río as Berna. The Trail of ’98 was based on the 1910 novel written by Robert William Service.

When was the rail route over Rollins Pass officially abandoned?

When the Denver & Salt Lake Railway applied for permission to abandon the rail route over Rollins Pass on March 16, 1935, the request to the Interstate Commerce Commission read, “App. [sic] for certificate to abandon that part of its line extending from a point near Newcomb, in Gilpin County, to a point near Vasquez, in Grand County, Colorado, a distance of 31.76 miles.” The Interstate Commerce Commission replied to the abandonment request on May 14, 1935: “It is apparent from the record that the line sought to be abandoned has served the purpose for which it was constructed, that its operation would impose an unnecessary and undue burden on interstate commerce, and that the proposed abandonment will not result in public inconvenience.” The rails and ties were removed from Rollins Pass the following summer.

What is the story of the caved-in tunnel on the railroad grade at Yankee Doodle Lake?

There were early attempts at running narrow-gauge rails over Rollins Pass in the 1880s but those efforts met premature ends due to financial issues. Author Edgar McMechen writes in a footnote of the prior efforts to build a railroad over Rollins Pass: “A brief review will give the reader a better appreciation of Moffat’s courage in the inauguration of the Denver, Northwestern, & Pacific . . . Boulder, or Rollins Pass, between South Boulder Creek and Middle Park. GHS, Jefferson, & Boulder County Railroad and Wagon Road (A.N. Rogers’ line) in 1867; U.P. in 1866; Kansas Pacific in 1869; Colorado Railroad (B. & M. subsidiary) in 1884—two tunnels located; Denver, Utah & Pacific in 1881 (construction started and tunnel located).” These early tunneling attempts can be seen today—Guinn Mountain at Yankee Doodle Lake and the other through the southern cirque at King Lake. On page 20 of our first book, Rollins Pass: Images of America (2018), we showcase two 19th-century stereocards that reveal views from the wagon road days on Boulder Pass. Both stereographs show Yankee Doodle Lake before it was encircled by the railroad and before the mound of granite debris was added to the northern part of the lake, closest to the camera.

In what county is the summit of Rollins Pass?

The summit, sign at the summit, parking area, dining hall foundation, and a sizeable portion of the townsite of Corona are all in Boulder County.

Is the route over Guinn Mountain open to motor vehicles?

No, the route over Guinn Mountain—known as 501 or the Boulder Wagon Road—has been closed to motor vehicles since 1980 and its closure was reinforced in 2006. Please respect the road closure signs at either end; this trail is for hikers, bicyclists, and horseback riders. No motorized route connects across the Continental Divide. Per Stay the Trail Colorado, MVUMs are the legal trails you can recreate on—anything off that is out-of-bounds. Please abide by these limitations for the benefit of our continued access.

When was John Quincy Adams Rollins’ toll wagon road approved?

On February 6, 1866, the Council and House of Representatives of Colorado Territory passed an act signed by the governor approving the wagon road as the “Middle Park and South Boulder Wagon Road Company.” Records show the incorporators as “John Q.A. Rollins, Perley Dodge, and Frederic C. Weir.” The wagon road had one tollgate and the following rate structure: “For each vehicle drawn by two animals, two dollars and fifty cents; for each additional two animals, twenty-five cents; each vehicle drawn by one animal, one dollar and fifty cents; horse and rider and pack animals, twenty-five cents; loose stock, five cents per head . . . horse with rider, or pack animal with pack, ten cents.” The cost for nonpayment of a toll was the same as causing intentional damage to the road: $25.

Can I take an RV on Rollins Pass?

Due to blind curves, sharp turns, lack of large turnaround locations, and general road conditions, this isn’t advised. However, truck bed campers shouldn’t be constrained by these types of issues.

Can I take a trailer on Rollins Pass?

Due to blind curves, sharp turns, lack of large turnaround locations, and general road conditions, this isn’t advised.

What sort of watercraft can I use at Yankee Doodle Lake?

No motorized boats are allowed at Yankee Doodle Lake (or any lake on Rollins Pass). Stand Up Paddleboards (SUPs) or inflatable tubes/rafts are the most common watercraft used.

Where can I renew my snowmobile and/or OHV registration with Colorado Parks and Wildlife?

You can renew snowmobile and/or OHV registration with Colorado Parks and Wildlife here.

Moffat Tunnel: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Where is the Moffat Tunnel?

The 6.2-mile-long Moffat Tunnel spans two counties: Gilpin County (East Portal) and Grand County (West Portal).

How are James Peak and the mountains south along the Continental Divide referred to by the Arapaho?

The Arapaho refer to the area as hooxee hookute’ (wolf’s canine).

The Moffat Tunnel goes through which mountain in the Colorado Front Range?

The Moffat Tunnel was bored through a shoulder of James Peak located on the Continental Divide.

What is the elevation of the Moffat Tunnel?

A train moving east to west through the Moffat Tunnel begins at an elevation of 9,196 feet at the East Portal, ascends a very gentle 0.3 percent grade, and 14,054 feet later, reaches the tunnel’s apex at 9,238 feet above sea level. Descending the remaining 18,746 feet toward the West Portal, two different grades are encountered (0.9 percent and 0.8 percent) toward the portal’s elevation of 9,098 feet.

Is the Moffat Tunnel still used?

The Moffat Tunnel opened for rail traffic in 1928 and has seen continuous use since that date. The Moffat Tunnel was also crucial to helping win World War II as more than 30 defense trains hurried through the tunnel daily.

Can you walk through the Moffat Tunnel?

No—this is an active rail tunnel; please do not trespass on railroad property.

Can you drive through the Moffat Tunnel?

No. However, of interesting note is the 1922 law authorizing the Moffat Tunnel “specifi[ed] that the bore should be used by cars as well as trains.” Several Steamboat Pilot articles mention the plan was to ferry cars through the tunnel “on electric-powered railroad flatcars” and then collect a “toll charge.” If such a plan were enacted, it would slash approximately 28 miles and nearly 4,000 feet of total elevation from the present route up, over, and down Berthoud Pass.

What are some of the statistics related to the construction of the Moffat Tunnel?

The creation of the 6.2-mile-long Moffat Tunnel through the Continental Divide was a monumental undertaking; 400 tons of drill steel were used for the 700 miles of drill holes made through the heart of James Peak. Dynamite—1,250 tons of it—loosened 750,000 cubic yards of rock for excavation, the equivalent of 1,600 freight trains, each 40 cars long.

What amenities could be found in the East Portal company town?

The East Portal company town had a 24-hour mess hall serving high-quality food, a six-bed hospital with an operating room and x-ray machine, a movie theater (admission was 35¢), women’s bridge clubs, a post office, and a school. The whole operation was dry—the Moffat Tunnel was built entirely during Prohibition—and the town of East Portal is one of the few communities in early Gilpin County without a saloon.

Why is there a satellite dish outside the old cabins if the tunnel was constructed between 1923-1928?

At East Portal, the most specialized buildings such as the compressor house, machine shop, and powder magazine, all located closest to the tunnel entrance toward the south, were demolished first. The most adaptable buildings continued to be used through the early 2000s as housing for workers who helped maintain the Moffat Tunnel. This solves the mystery for those trying to reconcile the buildings’ historic use and yet see a sizable, aged satellite dish outside of the cottages.

Is the East Portal company town listed as one of Colorado’s Most Endangered Places?

Yes; the five remaining cabins at East Portal were listed in 2020 as one of Colorado’s Most Endangered Places by Colorado Preservation Inc. While Mother Nature and Father Time exert tremendous forces on the outside of these structures, heartbreaking vandalism seeks to shatter these buildings from within. The West Portal held 200 more workers, yet none of the historic structures remain. To view the 2020 Endangered Places Program announcement, tap here.

Is there a time capsule in the Moffat Tunnel?

Yes, there is a time capsule in the façade of the East Portal of the Moffat Tunnel. The original time capsule was placed in a 50-year vault and was opened Saturday, February 25, 1978. A second vault holding a time capsule is scheduled to be opened on Saturday, February 26, 2028—the 100th anniversary of the first official train through the tunnel. This capsule contains newspapers, photos, tickets, and booklets from the 50th anniversary.
 
Preserve Rollins Pass has the original receipt book from the first train passage through the Moffat Tunnel—a rare gem that should absolutely be showcased at the 100th anniversary celebration!
 
The plaque on the East Portal says the current time capsule is the “Property of the Moffat Tunnel Commission and the Intermountain Chapter National Railway Historical Society.” The Moffat Tunnel Commission was dissolved February 1, 1998; the Colorado Department of Local Affairs is the custodian of and has administrative authority over the Moffat Tunnel Improvement District, which owns the rail tunnel known as the Moffat Tunnel. (The pioneer bore—located 75 feet to the south of and parallel to the rail tunnel—was later converted into The Moffat Water Tunnel and sold to the Denver Water Board in 1998.)

Purchasing our Autographed Books: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I add any customization or inscription?

Yes! …and no. If a book is to be inscribed, please triple-check the spelling of the name(s) we will be making the book out to—we use permanent ink! Travis and Kate want to engage with our readers in a way that appreciates and celebrates the history of Rollins Pass. Personalization requests that run contrary to the dedications or acknowledgments printed in our books, messages about opening/closing the pass, text that contains abbreviations or profanity of any kind, or messages of a hateful or political nature will be canceled and refunded.

What are your processing and shipping times?

Our processing and handling times are typically within two business days, with most orders averaging same business day or next day for handoff to the postal service. Orders are not shipped on days our local post office is closed (Saturday afternoons, Sundays, and federal holidays).

What shipping service and speed do you select?

We send all orders with speedy shipping to your front door or mailbox in a USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelope. Shipping is the same cost for either one or two books.

Are your books available without shipping costs?

Signed paperback books are also available for local pickup without shipping charges. Reach out to us if you are in the Grand County and Gilpin County areas—if our route takes us that way, we can meet!

Why does the tracking number I was provided not work?

While extraordinarily rare, if your tracking number happens to show “Tracking number created” (or something similar, like “Label Created, not yet in system”) for a few days, please wait until one weekend passes as it is usually over the weekend that USPS catches up with their missed scans. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience.

What if I entered the wrong shipping address?

We fulfill orders almost immediately as we receive them. If your shipping address was incomplete or is incorrect, we are unfortunately not able to change it before it ships. Once you receive the tracking number, you (the receiver) can contact USPS and complete or correct the address. If you are having trouble with this process, please contact us at [email protected] once you’ve received a response from USPS.

What if I’ve changed my mind about my order?

Due to the nature of our custom fulfillment process, we are unable to accept returns or exchanges at this time. We do guarantee shipment and if there is any damage to your order, please email us with photos of the damage within 72 hours of delivery and we will replace your order right away.

What if my order arrived damaged?

If you received a damaged item, please notify us within 72 hours of delivery and we will happily replace the damaged item(s) with the same shipping as per the original order. Please include well-lit images detailing the damage to qualify for replacements.

What if I need my order by a specific date?

Please note that our processing time is up to two business days to fulfill your order and it ships after that. If you are ordering something for a specific date, please account for this processing and shipping time.

Do you provide any free books?

If you are one of the two dozen people who made our first book possible or one of the more than six dozen people who helped make our second book possible, your copy is on us! Preserve Rollins Pass routinely makes donations from our book sales. The proceeds of our first royalties went to Colorado State University’s Archaeology Field School—they conduct field research and archaeology on Rollins Pass in the summers. We have also donated over a hundred books to local libraries, master and PhD students, preservation groups, county governments, and land managers.

Where are your books written and published?

Our books are written directly on Rollins Pass in nearly every season with finishing and assembly work completed in both Tolland and Fraser, Colorado. Our books are made in the USA and are printed in South Carolina on American-made paper and manufactured entirely in the United States.

Can I leave a review?

Yes, of course! Each of our books and presentations about Rollins Pass and the Moffat Tunnel involve tens of thousands of hours of work in consultation with experts across the country. We always enjoy reading compelling reviews, yours if we are so honored, and would like to be able to share your words and thoughts on our recommendations page with others.

What’s the difference between your first book, Rollins Pass: Images of America (2018) and your second book, Rollins Pass: Past & Present (2022)?

While our two books cover the same core topics of Rollins Pass and the Moffat Tunnel, the 2022 book is not a republication of our 2018 work—in fact, there’s very little that’s duplicated between the two books. Our 2022 book discusses completely new details and information about Rollins Pass that transpired in the four years between publications. The 2022 work has never-before-published and extraordinarily rare imagery meticulously restored from the originals: all historic photographs are printed in black and white with modern counterparts are in full color. While our first book involved two dozen people, our second book involved the efforts of more than six dozen experts to help tell this area’s vast story.

Who are the many experts who have helped with your books and presentations?

Our growing list of experts is found here on our ‘With Gratitude‘ page.

General Topics: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I collaborate on a project with you or feature you in a documentary/article?

If you would like to collaborate on a project, invite us to give a presentation, or feature Travis and Kate in a documentary or article, we welcome all inquiries. Please contact us at [email protected] and we will respond in a timely manner.

My organization is interested in partnering with Preserve Rollins Pass to screen “The White Desert”—is that possible?

Absolutely! While we don’t own a copy of the rare silent film, The White Desert, we know where to source the only copy in existence! We also partner with superb silent film pianist Hank Troy to provide live accompaniment. Regardless of venue size: whether a private screening for a dozen VIPs or for a crowd of several hundred people, we require 12 weeks’ notice (preferably more) to work out film shipment logistics, technology requirements, venue, and event planning.

When did Preserve Rollins Pass receive a State Honor Award?

At Colorado Preservation, Inc.’s 32nd Annual Dana Crawford & State Honor Awards event held on Thursday, June 9, 2022, B. Travis Wright, MPS of Preserve Rollins Pass was recognized and celebrated with a State Honor Award for excellence in historic preservation and preservation leadership for over a decade of work on Rollins Pass in Colorado. The story of Travis’ efforts on Rollins Pass for his State Honor Award were shared by Holly Kathryn Norton, PhD, State Archaeologist and Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) as well as by Garrett W. Briggs, a Southern Ute tribal member and Colorado’s first Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (THPO). The video shown at the awards ceremony and more information can be found here.

When did Preserve Rollins Pass first adopt N76 (Riflesight)?

We adopted the trail in the summer of 2016 as part of the Adopt-A-Trail Program (AATP) administered under the auspices of Headwaters Trails Alliance (HTA) and the United States Forest Service (USFS)—all work is done on a volunteer basis. N76 is a 1.73 mile Class 2 Trail known as Riflesight (named for the famed Riflesight Notch Trestle), on the west side of Rollins Pass.

How often are you both on Rollins Pass and how many miles do you hike each week?

For well over the last decade, in the summers and early autumn, we are on the pass 3-5 times per week and log roughly 20-30 miles of hiking weekly. In winter and early spring, we’re on the pass on average 2 times per week.

In one of your presentations, I think I heard your dog was named after Rollins Pass?

It’s true: our pup’s middle name was Rollins! (Rest in peace our sweet friend—play forever in that warm summer glow atop Rollins Pass ❤️).

Can I connect with both of you on LinkedIn?

Absolutely! Connect with B. Travis Wright, MPS here and with Kate Wright, MBA here. Our websites can also be found here (Travis) and here (Kate).

Why in the television piece about motorbikes on Guinn Mountain, did the filming for your interviews take place on the opposite side of Rollins Pass?

The CBS4 team knew they wanted to interview us on Rollins Pass; however, it would have been another hour—one way—to film on Guinn Mountain and they had tight deadlines to be back within signal. As we had adopted N76, it made sense to stop and film at that location to reinforce the message of establishing the need to care for trails and advocate for the irreplaceable history of the pass.

If I provide old photographs, videos, stories, or documents relating to Rollins Pass to you for an upcoming book, how will I be compensated?

Writing books is more a labor of love than it is a source of revenue—we donated our first book’s royalties to Colorado State University’s field school students who perform archaeology fieldwork atop Rollins Pass in the summers. If your content is selected and will be used, we would be happy to give you a signed copy of the book when it publishes. We would also give you/your family credit in the book for each photo as well as special call-out in the Acknowledgments of the upcoming book and special mention at our book launch event.

I have a box of snapshots to share with you but no scanner, what should I do?

Good news: we can scan the media for you (for free) and send you all of the photos digitally, too, to help preserve these memories for future generations.

What types of media can you scan?

We can scan large format photographs, newspapers, maps, and charts; negatives, slides, and Polaroids. For video and/or audio tapes, we can accept any and all analog formats.

Are you looking for any pictures in particular?

We’re accepting any image, but would love to see anything that would make a reader turn the page, see your photo, and say, “WOW!

What if I don’t remember or know the year something was taken?

No worries—we’ll still accept it and we can determine approximate, if not precise, dates.

Have further questions?

Do you have a question that could be featured on our frequently asked questions page? Reach out to us!

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