Favorite Colorado Passes

Blue Lakes Pass
By Ed Helmuth & Gloria Helmuth
  |  Gorp.com

Elevation: 12,980 feet
Location: T43N R8W
County: Ouray
Topo: Telluride
National Forest: Uncompahgre

Blue Lakes Pass is accessible by foot on the eastern edge of the Mount Sneffels Wilderness Area. East access is via wildflower-filled Yankee Boy Basin. A 4WD can be driven, on forest route #853.1B, to within about one mile of the pass, then hiking is required.

The pass divides the waters of East Fork Dallas Creek to the north and Sneffels Creek to the south.

In some writings the name is given as Blue Lake Pass; the plural usage in this text is for the three lakes below the pass.

The pass is on the south shoulder of Mount Sneffels; the first part of the trail to the pass is used regularly in the summer as an access to this popular "fourteener." The San Juan Division of the Hayden survey holds the record for the first ascent of Mount Sneffels, in 1874. Franklin Rhoda, leader of one of the Hayden parties, wrote, "Just to the south of Mount Sneffels was ... a comparatively low gap, which we felt was passable for good foot-climbers."

The earliest known regular use of the pass was around 1917, as a pack trail. The three Blue Lakes on the west side of the pass are well-known fishing spots, and access to them is shorter from the east, over the pass, than by the long hike required to reach them from the northwest side.

The pass is a narrow, sharp saddle between Gilpin Peak and Mount Sneffels, with rocky ridges extending off each mountain. Look into the Mount Sneffels Wilderness Area to the west, then look northeast to Teakettle Mountain and the little Coffeepot Mountain. A sign marks and names this crossing.

© Article copyright Pruett Publishing.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 23 May 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »