Black Bear Pass - 4WD Trail In San Juan Mountains

The Wilson Family's Outing Over Black Bear Pass - Also Jeff Abel's 4X4 Photos

Black Bear Pass
The Black Bear Pass Jeep trail is known as one of the scariest and most difficult 4WD passes in Colorado. Since it ends in Telluride, where we now live, we have always wanted to do it. The pass begins near Red Mountain Pass (U.S. Highway 550) north of Silverton and makes its way to Telluride. Every day has been cloudy and rainy, but we decided to go anyway since Black Bear Pass is open only eight to ten weeks a year. Many of my photos don't have great lighting, but the scenery was so beautiful in person. Black Bear Pass is a 4WD road that deserves respect and demands an experienced 4-wheel driver. -Written by Lisa in Telluride, CO

Black Bear Pass 4WD Road
To give you an idea of why the pass is so difficult, the photo above shows the switchbacks from a sunny day when we drove over Imogene Pass. The switchbacks you see zig-zagging above Bridal Veil Falls are very tight and narrow. You are only allowed to drive down this part of the pass. There is also a sign that warns drivers that at that point, they can still turn back to U.S. Highway 550 if they do not want to go down the switchbacks ... a "last call" before you head down.

Looking down on Red Mountain Pass.
Black Bear Pass 4WD
The date of our drive was August 6, 2007 ... and we saw snow! :)
Black Bear Pass Colorado
I'm certain the views from Black Bear Pass are spectacular, but we'll have to do it again to see it. Oh and yes, I was freezing and it was raining.

Road construction! Thank goodness for these people who worked hard to keep the Jeep trails in drivable conditions. Black Bear Pass was closed July 24 to August 2 due to mudslides and rockslides. These wonderful workers cleared it.

The road ahead of us.
Columbine Flowers
Columbines, the Colorado state flower.
Ingram Lake
We drove past Ingram Lake.
Telluride Black Bear Pass
Eventually, we saw Telluride below us.
Warning Sign
Last chance for scaredy cats to turn around!

Driving over and through Ingram Falls, with a view of Telluride below.
Ingram Falls, CO
Our view Ingram Falls as we drove through it.
Black Bear Pass Switchback
One of the many extreme switchbacks! We backed-up a few times to ease around these things.
4WD Telluride Road
The view of Bridal Veil Falls and the power house station below us.
A blurry photo, but after we got home, God blessed us with a rainbow. Maybe he was telling us we were crazy to do Black Bear Pass today, or maybe he was telling us he was there to keep us safe. All in all, I think this road is greatly exaggerated. The road crews have kept the trail ready for experienced 4WD enthusiasts.

Photos and commentary by Lisa Wilson in Telluride, Colorado.

Jeff's Photos of Black Bear Pass
August 2012 - Jeff and Julie Abel of Colorado Springs drove over Black Bear Pass and submitted these photos and a video of the narrowest section of the road. Jeff wrote, "Black Bear Pass is one of those trails that you have to drive to fully appreciate. The saying 'You don't have to be crazy to drive this road, but it helps' is true."

Note: You're invited to visit Jeff's personal blog and social media company.

Black Bear Pass 4X4
Near the beginning on the Ouray side.

Colorado 4WD Route
Wildlife along the road.
Black Bear Pass, CO
Above timberline.
San Juan Mountains Colorado
Beautiful mountains afar, with Mount Sneffels the pointed peak right of center.
Colorado Wildflowers
Amazing violet wildflowers.
Black Bear Pass Colorado
Julie and I at Black Bear Pass. We picked a perfect day to go!
Black Bear Pass 4WD
Coming down on the other side.
Black Bear Pass 4WD Road
Crossing Ingram Falls with a view of Telluride.
Bridal Veil Falls
Approaching Bridal Veil Falls.
Bridal Veil Falls Colorado
A better view of the waterfall.
Black Bear Pass Road
One of many narrow sections.
Black Bear Pass Colorado
We made it.


This is my video of the section of trail that makes Black Bear Pass famous. Beside Ingram Falls is where the steep section of switchbacks begin. Buckle up and let's go!

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