Is Cottonwood Pass Open?

Answer: Cottonwood Pass is usually open each year from the Thursday before Memorial Day to the first major snowstorm in October/November. The pass can open days or weeks sooner, if there was modest snowfall during the winter and spring season.

The Colorado Department of Transportation website ( has a road conditions section with current information. Go there! Also, contacting the police, chamber of commerce, or local Buena Vista newspaper (the Chaffee County Times) may also be helpful.

My Hike To Cottonwood Pass ... Via The Road

Photos And Videos Of My 2.5 Mile Hike (Each Way) On The Snowy Road To The Pass

Cottonwood Pass - Elevation 12,126 Feet
Cottonwood Pass Colorado

April 22, 2012 - It's true I've been to Cottonwood Pass, a scenic mountain spot on the Continental Divide, countless times. But today was special, at least because I walked to the pass on mainly snow-covered roads. As of today, Cottonwood Pass is not open to vehicular traffic, and so I drove as far as I could -- roughly just beyond the Ptarmigan Lake Trailhead -- and hiked the remaining 2.5 miles. There were no other hikers, no snowmobilers and obviously no other cars. I had this beautiful place all to myself.

Because I love this area so much, I created a website ( with photos and information dedicated to this special place. Enjoy it! :)

Photos by Steve Garufi in Buena Vista, Colorado. Facebook - Twitter - Pinterest - YouTube

Mountain My hike began in earnest at the tight switchback area beyond the Ptarmigan Lake Trailhead parking lot. This is a nice mountain shot, isn't it?
Turner Peak Colorado 13er Turner Peak in view.
The contrast between sunshine, blue sky and bright white snow made photography difficult at times. Notice the road is mainly covered in snow. I trudged through ...
Cottonwood Pass, CO Snow ... and about a mile later, I was above timberline.

Talk about a wonderful snowy mountain wonderland! Cottonwood Pass is located on the far right, at the lowest part in the ridge. I was all alone, walking through snow with snowmobile tracks throughout.

Road I made short cuts through the switchbacks. A photo on the last stretch of Chaffee County Road 306 to the pass.
Cottonwood Pass Colorado Snow around the sign.
Steve Self-portrait.
Three Apostles Colorado A close-up of the Three Apostles with Huron Peak showing its head on the right.
Rocky Mountains Looking west toward the mountains afar that stand in front of Crested Butte.
Colorado Mountains Scenery One nice snow and mountain shot as I came down.

Some of my other Cottonwood Pass pages:

  • Taylor Park Reservoir
  • Fall Colors (My First Visit)
  • Bicycling Cottonwood Pass
  • USA Pro Cycling Challenge
  • Sunset
  • Snow and Scenery
  • Short Hike At The Pass
  • Taylor River Road
  • My Videos - Four Parts

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