Vail Pass

39°31’50”N
106°13’02”W
10,662 FEET
(3,251 M)
7.0% ASPHALT
NEAR VAIL
Vail Pass Elevation

Vail Pass in the Rocky Mountains of central Colorado lies between Vail and Copper Mountain on Interstate 70.

Suggested Route (Paved) 30 miles

Begin in West Vail and ride on the Frontage Road to the bike path--mile 12.5
Continue riding to Vail Pass Summit--mile 17.7
At this point continue along the paved Ten Mile Canyon Trail to Copper Mountain--mile 22.5
Continue riding on Copper Road crossing CR 91 into Wheeler Junction--mile 24.1
Finish riding along the Frisco Copper Bike Path to Frisco--mile 30.0

THE CLIMB

This pass is significantly steep on either side with 7 to 8 percent grades; however, many agree east to west is easier. “The Wall” is the steepest section of the climb on west side of the pass. It can be fun on the descent, but a killer on the ascent.

This Pass is unique in that you do not need to ride on the highway. There is a well-maintained bike path from Frisco to Vail.

NEARBY TOWNS

Vail, 15.1 miles to the west
Frisco, 11.7 miles to the east
Copper Mountain, 4.8 miles to the east
West Vail, 17.7 miles to the west

FUN FACTS

Vail Pass is the last pass cyclists ride in both the Triple-By-Pass and Copper Triangle bike events (or the first if you attempt the Double Triple).

 

Black Lakes, at the top of Vail Pass, is stocked twice a summer with 2,500 pounds of rainbow fish. For some relaxing still-water fishing, and beautiful views of the Gore Range, bring along your flies and worms. The trout will love you!

HISTORY

The Ute Indians were the first inhabitants of the Gore Creek Valley and called the Gore Range “The Shining Mountains.”

 

The first white settlers came to the valley in the mid-1800s and forced the Indians to leave. Ranchers began grazing their stock. Sir St. George Gore, the infamous Anglo-Irish baronet, was one of the first white men to pass through this area. Jim Bridger, a famous mountain man, led Gore on a hunting expedition in 1854. Bridger, Gore, and 28 others worked their way to the Colorado River in what is now Grand County near Kremmling. American Indians and white settlers did not like Gore because it was rumored his party killed 2,000 buffalo, 1,600 elk and deer, and 100 bears – an extravagant slaughter. The Gore Creek and Eagle River Valley became gold and silver mining territory in the late 1800s.

 

The pass was not a traditional historical route of the Rockies. Prior to 1940, the most common route westward was over nearby Shrine Pass, just to the south, which leads to the town of the Red Cliff in the upper Eagle Valley. In 1940, the construction of U.S. Highway 6 bypassed Shrine Pass in favor of the current route to the valley of Gore Creek. In September 1939, the State Highway Department paved a route over what was then called Black Gore Pass, the first highway through the area. At that time, they renamed the pass Vail Pass in honor of Charles D. Vail, chief engineer for the department.