Tennessee Pass crosses the continental divide north of Leadville in a gap between the Sawatch Range and Mosquito Range. The pass is traversed by U.S. Highway 24, allowing access between Leadville and Interstate-70 in the Eagle Valley. The Pass is part of the Copper Triangle route.
Begin in Minturn riding south southeast on US 24 to Tennessee Pass Summit--mile 20.3
Stay south on US 24 and finish in Leadville--mile 30
The pass has a gentle approach on both sides with few steep gradients and no major hairpin curves. It is much easier from the Leadville side. The descent from Tennessee Pass is a fun ride towards Camp Hale. Most of the area is above the tree line providing a panoramic view of the peaks of the Sawatch Range. To capture your 2,000 feet ascent, combine it with Fremont or climb from Red Cliff or Camp Hale.
Leadville, 6.9 miles to the south
Red Cliff, 18.5 miles to the north
Minturn, 20.3 miles to the north
The summit of the pass is the location of Ski Cooper, a ski area used for training the World War II 10th Mountain Division.
In the early 1830s, fur trappers and traders used this pass. An improved wagon road was constructed in 1879 for travel over the divide from Leadville to the small town of Red Cliff.
Located on the north side of Tennessee Pass is Camp Hale. Constructed in 1942, this area was formerly a World War II training ground for United States Army troops of the 10th Mountain Division. Soldiers were trained in mountain climbing, Alpine and Nordic skiing, cold-weather survival, as well as various weapons and ordnance. When it was in full operation, approximately 15,000 soldiers were housed there.
These ski troops of World War II spawned the American ski industry. A memorial to troops of the division is located at the summit of the pass. In the meadows of Camp Hale, on the descent to the north, you can observe the block foundations of the 10th Mountain Division. It is a beautiful sight in the summer, yet you can certainly sense the cold winter habitat which served to train troops.