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MJ Destinations: Black Bear & Imogene Pass, Colorado MJ Destinations: Black Bear & Imogene Pass, Colorado
There are a few very well known trails in the high country of Western Colorado. Many Jeepers are familiar with the San Juan Mountain... MJ Destinations: Black Bear & Imogene Pass, Colorado

There are a few very well known trails in the high country of Western Colorado. Many Jeepers are familiar with the San Juan Mountain range with trails that include the infamous Black Bear Pass and Imogene Pass, Poughkeepsie Gulch, Engineer Pass and Ophir Pass. Many of the trails are a “loop” known as the “Alpine Loop”, and are the Modern Jeepers paradise in Colorado.

An excerpt from the US Forest Service states “This OHV route offers a very technical trail that is not for inexperienced drivers or riders. While most of the road is moderate in difficulty. the mile-long stretch of steep switchbacks on the Telluride side above Bridal Veil Falls is rated as difficult. A high clearance, short wheel base, four wheel drive vehicle is strongly recommended for this section of the road. The road starts from State Highway 550 at Red Mountain Pass (signed as Forest Road #823) and climbs quickly to Black Bear Pass at 3.2 miles. There is ample room for parking at the Pass where there are views into Ingram Basin. The road then descends into Ingram Basin, past Ingram Lake and the Black Bear Mine. At approx. 5.6 miles the road begins descending the “Steps” which are comprised of a series of steep, technical rock steps. From this point down to the Bridal Veil Powerplant (approx 1 mile), the road is one-way only. Once down the “Steps”, the road continues past Ingram Falls, making extremely tight, narrow switchbacks until it reaches the Bridal Veil Falls Powerplant. Driving, riding, or walking down this section of the road is not only a thrill; it also offers spectacular views of the Telluride Valley, Ingram Fall, and Bridal Veil Falls.”

This particular area happens to be my backyard…literally. I live in Ouray County, Colorado, and have been through these trails a number of times over the years…in fact as a part of we run a number of these trails.

Black Bear Pass from the top of Red Mountain Pass, traveling down into the town of Telluride and then back up over Imogene Pass in to Ouray, Colorado is an amazing full day loop into the Colorado backcountry. These trails are NOT for the novice driver. Let me say that again…THESE TRAILS ARE NOT FOR THE NOVICE DRIVER. I don’t care what you have seen on YouTube or read in your online forum. These trails change DAILY, and if mistakes are made they can be DEADLY. Thats all I’m going to say about it.

Black Bear is one of those iconic passes….

Imogene Pass was first constructed in 1880 and named after Imogene Richardson, who was the wife of a Camp Bird Mine owner. The first-ever alternating current (AC) long-distance power line was installed over Imogene Pass, delivering electricity that assisted mining operations for the greater Telluride area.

In 1904, after years of battle with local labor strikes, the Colorado National Guard established Fort Peabody at the summit of Imogene Pass. The route eventually reopened for recreational 4WD travel in 1966.




Corey Osborne Co-creator

After 23 years of corporate life, I decided to pursue my passions in the off road industry. Specializing in marketing, visibility, relationship and brand building, and acting as MetalCloak's field marketing representative, I have travelled across the country (quite a few times!) using Metalcloak’s CTI (Corner Travel Index) to educate the off road enthusiast. I have also worked with Jeep Jamboree USA as event staff, to provide additional value and education to its participants. I've been fortunate enough to work with both international as well as domestic media; have attended most of the off-road events across our country; and have driven a wide variety of vehicles. I'm a certified PADI scuba instructor and have a BS in Computer Science.