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bwanna2016 07-09-2021 12:11 PM

Cottonwood Pass- How extreme is it?
hi-- looking to make a run from salida, co to taylor reservoir, co. i know they redid cottonwood pass a year or 2 ago. we have a gas powered ( chevy 8.1 liter) monarch pulling a jeep. don't like to stress out the monaco any more than needed. what percent grades are we looking at and how long are the uphill climbs? is this pass doable or am i going to send my motorhome to an early grave? thanks

twogypsies 07-09-2021 03:36 PM

You have a different screen name than on the 'other forum' where you asked this question but perhaps you're a different person. :) Here's the answer I gave:

It's an absolutely beautiful drive especially in Fall with the aspen colors. From Buena Vista you'll have mostly 5-6% grades but a few short sections up to 10%. You're going over the Continental Divide and the Pass is at 12,126' EL. We've stayed at the Taylor Park national forest campground overlooking the lake - very nice. I'd recommend driving it in the morning. Mountain rain storms happen just about every afternoon in the West.

For reference, Buena Vista is 7965' EL so you'll have 4,161' to climb.

An easier way to Taylor Park is to take Hwy 50 to Gunnison and Taylor Reservoir is 28 mi. from there. You'll come to a tiny town of Almont at 8,022' EL and head to Taylor Park along the fast-flowing Taylor River. Fishing is excellent there & also at Taylor. There are a few national forest campgrounds from Almont up to Taylor Park. Taylor Park is at 9300' EL. so it's not a big climb.

We drove from Almont to Taylor Park - where we've always stayed a half-dozen times with our 40' motorhome pulling the Jeep. We drove the Jeep to Buena Vista from Taylor Park when Cottonwood Pass was still 1/2 gravel. It's newly paved all the way now and in excellent condition.

You can easily do a day trip to Crested Butte - a pleasant little town.

Mt. Evans paved highway is 14,130'

Pikes Peak paved highway is 14,115'

Cottonwood paved highway is 12,126'

Trail Ridge Rd. (Rocky Mtn. Nat'l Park) is 12,183'

Independence Pass paved highway is 12,095'

Monarch Pass on Hwy 50 is paved 11,312' .... westbound - 6% downhill for 9 miles.... get into low gear before even beginning the downhill so you don't have to use your vehicle brakes much.

Since we love Colorado so much and had a Jeep I think we drove just about every paved and unpaved road in Colorado! Enjoy!!

no3putt 07-09-2021 03:43 PM

Cottonwood pass had length limit of 35 feet however in 2018 was changed to 45 feet.

bwanna2016 07-09-2021 05:25 PM

yep different name, still me. i appreciate the info. i think i'll go a different route. our intention is to go to black canyon again. coming down from wyoming. time to find some trees. ha ha

twogypsies 07-09-2021 06:18 PM

I don't think there will be issues with Black Canyon but before you leave check for updates on Hwy 50 construction around Blue Mesa Reservoir.

bwanna2016 07-09-2021 06:45 PM

yea-- i checked the colo dot. looks like the best time to drive it is on the weekends. thanks

Flyer15015 07-09-2021 06:56 PM

Living in Buena Vista, I just drove my car up Cottonwood to check it out.
Skinny road with NO passing lanes and a pretty steep climb with lots of switchbacks. Peered over the west side = just as bad.

To get to Gunnison for a car show in August, I'll be taking Monarch pass.

There are LONG closures west of Gunnison as the CDOT folks are working on the road in the black canyon area.

Mike in Colorado

JeffAZ 07-11-2021 08:07 PM

Ya, the first time I went over Cottonwood Pass was in 2013 and it was my first trip towing a toyhauler. That darn road just kept rising and rising, I thought it would never stop ascending. I haven't been over it since they paved it.

letsride4 07-30-2021 04:08 PM

If you are worried about stressing your Monaco, there really isn't a low stress way to get from Salida to Taylor Park. Salida is on the eastern slope, Taylor Park is on the western slope. You have to cross the continental divide any way you go. Both Monarch and Cottonwood pass have some pretty tough grades to pull. Monarch is a much faster road (MPH) if you have the enough ponies to keep your speed up, while Cottonwood has corners that are going to slow you down regardless of how much power you have. I went to Taylor Park last year, Cottonwood pass going, Monarch pass returning. I prefer Cottonwood, but my wife didn't like the "edges" to look over on Cottonwood. Both passes are a hard pull. Use good judgement on either one, don't allow things to get too hot going up, don't allow things to get going too fast going down. Probably the least stressful on the Monaco would be be to take Poncha Pass ( HWY 285) to Saguache, then North Pass (HWY 114) comes into Hwy 50 east of Gunnison. There are two passes that way, but neither are not as hard of pull as either Cottonwood or Monarch. It would be more miles that way, but probably less stress on the Monaco. (I would not go that way too many miles)

Cottonwood 12,119
Monarch 11,312
Poncha 9,025
North 10,010

bwanna2016 07-31-2021 07:42 AM

we've driven both poncha pass from salida and the north pass to saguache. no problem on either. i think that's the route for us to go. thanks again

CharlesinGA 08-06-2021 10:52 PM

TV news story about the Cottonwood Pass route. The county has people regulating it in one place where it is one lane, kinda like at construction sites.


twogypsies 08-06-2021 11:13 PM


Originally Posted by CharlesinGA (Post 5863596)
TV news story about the Cottonwood Pass route. The county has people regulating it in one place where it is one lane, kinda like at construction sites.


This is not the same Cottonwood Pass that this original post is about. The one you reference is in Eagle Co. and starts at Gypsum on I-70 and goes over to Hwy 82.

Zoom out on this map to see where it runs.


The Cottonwood Pass for this post is in Gunnison Co. from Buena Vista on Hwy 24 & it goes to Taylor Park east of Crested Butte & north of Gunnison.

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