Favorite Colorado Passes

Fancy Pass
By Ed Helmuth & Gloria Helmuth
  |  Gorp.com

Elevation: 12,380 feet
Location: T7S R82W
County: Eagle
Topo: Mount Jackson
National Forest: White River

Fancy Pass is accessible by foot on forest service trail #2006 in the Holy Cross Wilderness Area. It divides the waters of Cross Creek to the north and Fancy Creek to the south. The pass is named for Joseph Fancy, an 1880s miner.

This pass was originally just a ridge with no opening. Miners used dynamite to blast a gap.

In the 1880s, when mining activity was heavy in the high country of the Holy Cross Ridge, big timbers and the bulky, heavy mill machinery needed at the Treasure Vault Mill were brought over the pass. To get the goods over the sheer cliffs on the west side, ropes were used to lower the machinery item by item. Pins, much like those today's rock climbers use, were pounded into the rocks to pass ropes through and help support the weight. Mules were used to carry as much of the weight as they could hold.

A road once ran over the pass and down to Holy Cross City. This road was built by the Treasure Vault Mining Company when they wanted to get their mill to Holy Cross City. Their competition, the Gold Park Milling and Mining Company, had denied Treasure Vault the use of Gold Park's road. So Treasure Vault made its own. Eight hundred feet is required in the half-mile from the lake to the pass summit. From the top, the views to the east are of the Ten Mile Range. To the west, the Cross Creek Valley leads down to Minturn. The pass is the crossing of the southern part of the Holy Cross Ridge. The top is usually filled with snow.

© Article copyright Pruett Publishing.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 25 May 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »