Frequently Asked Questions
Your most frequently asked questions about Rollins Pass, answered here! Please email [email protected] with any additional questions.
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. Today, Grand County refers to the pass by this appellation almost exclusively. However, 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.
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.
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.
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.
Rollins Pass is seasonally open for wheeled motorized vehicle use from June 15-November 15; however, late snowfall can result in a later opening in early July and/or early snowfall can close the pass in September. (Note the thoroughfare closures, documented directly above.) Up-to-date information about the Rollins Pass Road Status is published here.
Yankee Doodle Lake forms the backdrop for many apocryphal stories about wrecks found under the surface: including the remains of a wagon from the late 19th century, wreckage from an early 20th century locomotive, and even a crashed 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.
There were early attempts at running narrow-gauge rails over the pass, but those efforts met in failure. The Moffat Road rail route over Rollins Pass was the highest adhesion (non-cog) standard gauge railroad grade in North America.
No, this area is private property and is not open to the public.
The Moffat Tunnel opened for rail traffic in 1928 and has seen continuous use since that date.
Developed campsites typically have metal fire rings, picnic tables, 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.
A high-clearance vehicle is recommended to avoid bottoming out on the rough road. 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.
Off-highway vehicles are welcome on Rollins Pass and all motorized vehicles must adhere to Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs) linked to on this page; however, vehicles travelling 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.
No, the historic grade used long ago by the railroad (as well as the portions of the wagon road able to be travelled) are not paved and see little to no maintenance or improvements. The road is quite rough and a high-clearance vehicle is strongly recommended.
Rollins Pass has no amenities. There are no emergency call boxes, shops, food, vending, restrooms, water fountains, fuel, shelter, benches, picnic tables, trash receptacles, established campgrounds, pet waste bags/stations, nor AEDs. While the west side of the pass has decent cellular coverage; the summit and the east side of the pass have no or very limited cellular coverage.