Slumgullion Pass is in the San Juan Mountains traversed by State Highway 149 east of Lake City. The pass remains open during the winter. (Partner Pass: Spring Creek Pass)
Begin in Lake City and travel southeast on paved SH 149
Ride to Slumgullion Pass summit--mile 10.8
Carry on southeast to Spring Creek Pass summit--mile 17.3
Stay on SH 149 and Finish in Creede, CO--mile 50.0
The north side has the steepest grade of any continuously paved road in Colorado (9%). It has a few switchbacks and tight spots, but other than that you will find it an easy, scenic route. Scenic views of the Slide can be seen from Highway 149 south of Lake City as you ascend Slumgullion Pass. The Windy Point Overlook also provides great views of the Slide and of the San Juan Mountains surrounding Lake City.
Lake City, 9.7 miles to the northwest
Creede, 40.7 to the southeast
“Slumgullion” is a cheap or insubstantial stew which comes from, perhaps:
slum slime + English dialect gullion ‘mud’ = cesspool
It is believed that early settlers of Lake City named Slumgullion Slide after a yellow color stew made from beef, potatoes, carrots, onions, or other leftovers.
Slumgullion Pass was named after the national natural landmark Slumgullion Earthflow, or Slide. The Slumgullion Earthflow occurred when volcanic rock slid down an area of Mesa Seco creating a natural dam by blocking Lake Fork of the Gunnison River. It created what is now known as Lake San Cristobal, the second largest natural lake in Colorado. Another earthflow began about 300 years ago and is active today moving 20 feet per year in certain locations.
Technically speaking, the current highway does not traverse the true Slumgullion Pass, which lies just off the highway on the ridge between Cebolla Creek and the Lake Fork with an elevation of about 11,300 ft. Due to a realignment several decades ago, the road now takes a shorter but somewhat higher route as it travels east and south from this spot toward Spring Creek Pass. To reflect this, the road sign at the high point refers to Slumgullion Summit rather than Slumgullion Pass.