Cumbres Pass is located the San Juan Mountains in southern Colorado. The pass is traversed by State Highway 17 and the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad. (Partner Pass: La Manga Pass).
Begin in Chama, NM
Ride north on SH 17 and enter into Colorful Colorado--mile 8
Pedal to Cumbres Pass Summit--mile 16
Continue on SH 17 to La Manga Pass Summit--mile 19.5
Ride on and finish in Antonito, CO--48 miles
The highway has a moderate 5.8 percent approach on the north side and a gentler, four percent approach on the south side. It is rarely closed in winter and does not normally cause problems for vehicles, since the road is not a major through highway. Ride one direction, take the train in the other with your bike.
Antonito, CO 36.6 miles to the east
Chama, New Mexico, 12.3 miles to the southwest
The Spanish word for “Cumbres” is crest.
The Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad is the longest and highest narrow gauge railroad in North America.
In 1858 this pass was used by military units for travel to and from Fort Garland, Colorado and Fort Lewis, Colorado (today’s Pagosa Springs). Fort Garland was built to protect settlers in the San Luis Valley, then part of New Mexico Territory. In 1883, following the confinement of the Utes to reservations, the fort was abandoned.
A toll road was built over the pass in 1879 and a year later the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad began building their San Juan Extension line from Alamosa, Colorado to Durango, Colorado.
Since 1970 the railroad from Chama to Antonito has been owned and operated by the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad which operates trains over the pass during the tourist season. The original section house, car inspectors house, and part of the old snow shed remain on Cumbres Pass.