Old Monarch Pass connects U.S. 50 on both sides of the Continental Divide. This road can be traversed by passenger vehicles most of the summer and early fall months. Check with a local ranger station for current conditions. (Partner Pass: Monarch Pass)
Begin on pavement at Sargents
Continue riding north on paved US 50 to County Road 888--mile 1.3
Ride north on paved CR 888 to CR 237--mile 5.8
At this point the road becomes gravel
Continue on CR 237 to Old Monarch Summit--mile 15.3
Carry on to paved US 50--mile 16.6
Continue riding to Poncha Springs--mile 33.5
See The Climb for an alternative ride to capture Monarch.
Old Monarch Pass is only a mile west of Monarch Pass. Best completed on Mountain Bike as the road has some rough sections. There are multiple switchbacks. You can capture two passes on this loop and there are several combinations available with Monarch Pass. The descent is along an old railroad grade with magnificent views out over the valley. You can fly down certain sections and imagine yourself on the Pro MTB circuit.
Sargents, 10.9 miles to the south
Gunnison, 42.6 miles to the west
Poncha Springs, 18.5 miles to the east
Garfield, 5.8 miles to the northeast
Maysville, 11.7 miles to the northeast
General Ulysses Grant crossed the original Monarch Pass on his mining town tour in the early 1880s.
The Monarch Pass Toll Road (original Monarch Pass) was a wagon road built by Sam and Hugh Boone in 1879 to provide access to the White Pine and Tomichi mining areas. It was opened in 1880, and in 1881, it became a stagecoach route.
By 1919, work began on a new, shorter route that would be less steep and dangerous. That route is known today as “Old Monarch Pass”. It opened to “automobiles” in 1921 and merged with the original road on the west side of the pass.
Finally, in 1939, a third crossing was constructed a little lower and to the east of Old Monarch.