|Owl Creek Pass|
|USGS 7.5' Map:||Dallas, Courthouse Mountain, Washboard Rock|
|County:||Ouray and Gunnison|
|Managed by:||Uncompahgre National Forest,
Ouray Ranger District
|2505 S. Townsend Ave, Montrose, CO 81401||(970)240-5300|
|Summary:||Owl Creek Pass starts northeast of Ridgway, CO.
|Attractions:||Pass, Scenic, Movie History|
|Agency - Closed Dec 1 to Apr 15.|
June - May still have snow
July - Best
August - Best
September - Best, fall colors
October - Best
|Nate Creek Trail FT221 - Hiking, Mountain biking, Horseback riding, Dirt Bike
Spruce Trail FT221.1a - Hiking, Horseback riding
Ridge Trail FT221.1b - Hiking, Horseback riding
Stealey Mountain North Trail FT219 - Hiking, Mountain biking, Horseback riding, Dirt Bike, ATV
Old Owl Creek Trail FT236 - Hiking, Mountain biking, Horseback riding, Dirt Bike, ATV
West Fork Cimarron Trail FT240 - Hiking, Mountain biking, Horseback riding, Dirt Bike, ATV
Cowboy Lake Trail FT244 - Hiking, Mountain biking, Horseback riding, Dirt Bike, ATV
East Fork Cimarron Trail FT228 - Hiking, Horseback riding
Alpine Trail FT225 - Hiking, Mountain biking, Horseback riding, Dirt Bike
Clear Lake Trail FT247 - Hiking, Mountain biking, Horseback riding
Fish Creek Reservoir Trail FT224 - Hiking, Horseback riding
|Camping:||Dispersed camp sites are all along the road on public lands. There are three campgrounds on the east side of the pass.
|Base Camp:||This would be a good area to base camp. This area has a network of ATV and Dirt Bike trails as well as access to hiking trails into the Uncompahgre Wilderness.
|Fall Colors:||Excellent - There are large groves of aspen all along the entire road.
|Navigation:||From Ridgway, CO head east on CO-62 E/Sherman Street toward Railroad Street and go 0.4 miles. Turn left onto US-550 N and go 1.8 miles. Turn right onto County Road 10 and go 0.9 miles. Slight left to stay on County Road 10 and continue 3.1 miles. Turn right onto County Road 8, which begins the Owl Creek Pass road.
From Cimarron, CO head southwest on Morrow Point Dam Road toward US-50 E for 335 feet. Turn left onto US-50 E and go 2.5 miles. Turn right onto Cimarron Road and go 10.8 miles. Continue onto County Road 858 for 4.0 miles. When you cross the bridge over the Cimarron River you will be on public lands. This is now the Owl Creek Pass road.
Owl Creek Pass use to be called the Cimarron Cutoff Trail. Parts of the route were used by Otto Mears as toll roads to bring goods between Ridgway and the Silver Jack area. The pass separates Owl Creek on the west side and the West Fork of the Cimarron River on the east side.
Parts of the western movie True Grit were filmed along Owl Creek Pass, One site is Katie's Meadow (sometimes called Debbie's Meadow or Deb's Meadow), which has Chimney Rock in the background. This is the site of one of the most memorable scenes from True Grit, the climactic showdown between Rooster Cogburn and the outlaws, where Robert Duvall taunts John Wayne by shouting "I call that big talk for a one-eyed fat man!". Wayne replies, "Fill your hand you son-of-a-bitch!", takes the reins in his teeth and charges across the meadow with his pistol and winchester rifle blazing.
For more information on other sites around Ridgway that were used in the True Grit movie, visit the True Grit Then and Now site.
Helmuth, Ed & Gloria The Passes of Colorado Boulder, Colorado: Pruett Publishing Company, ISBN 0-87108-841-X, 1994. Print.
|Starting from the west side out of Ridgway you will follow County road 8 over to run along Cow Creek. You will cross a bridge over Cow Creek and then come to an intersection. The right goes to private homes. The left heads up Nate Creek passing private drives. After doing a hairpin turn you will come to another intersection the right goes to private homes. It is the old Owl Creek road, which is now part of a motorized and non-motorized trail system. Stay to the left to continue on County Road 8 and Owl Creek Pass. The road will continue as a double lane graded road as it crosses low pinion oak covered hills above Nate Creek to your left and Owl Creek to your right. Just past the second cattle guard you will cross onto public lands and pass a small parking area on the left. To your northeast is the dramatic Cimarron Ridge with its sheer cliffs.
You will continue up the wide ridge until you come to a large intersection. Just before the intersection is a short spur road on the left to a few camp sites. At the intersection the road to the right, FR858.2E, goes to a large parking area that is an overlook of the Owl Creek Valley. Straight across the intersection is the Old Owl Creek Trail, FT236 that is open to motorized (ATV, Dirt Bike) and non-motorized use. From the intersection stay to the left. You will climb two short switchbacks and pass a road on the right to a small gravel pit. Just past this spur the Spruce Trail, FT221.1a, connects with the road. This is a Hike and Horse back trail. From this point you will have Spruce Ridge on your right and Nate creek in the valley below on the left. The road will continue along Spruce Ridge and head through aspen groves toward the head of Nate Creek. At a wide curve where the road crosses a small drainage the Nate Creek Trail, FT221, crosses the road. This trail is for Hikers, Horse back, Mountain Bike, and Dirt Bikes. Next you will climb a very sharp hairpin turn. Past this turn is a small parking area on the left. This is the Ridge Trail, FT221.1b, which is Hike and Horse back only. Just past this trail crossing there will be two switchbacks. At the first curve of the switchbacks the Nate Creek Trail will tie into the road. After the switchbacks you will cross back over Spruce Ridge and have Owl Creek on your right again.
The next intersection is with the Old Owl Creek road to the right. The road has now been converted to the Stealey Mountain Trail, FT219, which is a motorized trail for ATVs and Dirt Bikes. Stay to the left to continue toward Owl Creek Pass. The road will weave in and out of a bunch of drainages off of Cimarron Ridge.
The road will continue to climb through the aspen trees. Just before a wide hairpin turn you will pass the Old Owl Creek Trail, FT236, on the left. After making the hairpin turn you will come to an open meadow with a pull off road on the left. This is the site of the famous shoot out scene in the original True Grit movie.
Past the meadow the road will do another wide hairpine turn and climb the last bit up to the top of Owl Creek Pass. At the pass there will be a cattle guard and a spur road to the left over to a campsite.
Over the pass you will head toward the West Fork of the Cimarron River. You will come to an intersection with a road to the right. This is West Fork Cimarron, FR860, which heads up the West Fork for 3.25 miles where it ends at the trailhead for Whetterhorn Basin Trail, FT226. Staying with the main road you will drive a hairpin turn with a dispersed camp site on the right. Past the turn you will head down the valley following the West Fork of the Cimarron River. You will be mostly pine forest as you head down the valley. You will pass three dispersed camp sites along the way. As the pines give way to aspen the West Fork Cimarron Trail, FT240, will be on the left where it connects with the road. You will make a large curve and head toward the east and finally come out into an open meadow.
In the middle of the meadow will be an intersection. The spur to the left, FR858.3G, goes to dispersed camp sites along the Cimarron River. It also takes you to the other end of the West Fork Cimarron Trail. Past the intersection you will cross a bridge over the Middle Fork of the Cimarron River. Just past the bridge, to the right, is the Middle Fork Cimarron road, FR861, which goes up the Middle Fork for 4.5 miles to end at the trail head for the Middle Fork Trail, FT227. In the first quarter mile of FR861 are over a half dozen dispersed camp sites. Be aware that this is open grazing land and cattle will come through the area. Continuing on the main road you will cross a bridge over the East Fork of the Cimarron River. Just past this bridge, to the right, is the East Fork Cimarron road, FT863, which goes about 1.5 miles and ends at the trail head for the East Fork Cimarron Trail, FT228. Along the first half mile of FR863 are over a half dozen dispersed camp sites.
Staying to the left on the main road you will follow the Cimarron River north. At just under three quarters of a mile, the Jackson Guard Station cabin will be on the right in the trees. This old Forest Service Guard Station can be rented. Just past the Guard Station is a spur road to the left, FR858.1D, that goes to a parking area at the southern end of Silver Jack Reservoir. This parking area is for fishing access. Continuing on the main road, in a mile you will come to an open meadow on the right and the Alpine Trail, FT225. This is a motorized trail that climbs up the cliffs on your right to the top and on to High Mesa. A short distance further is a small parking area on the left. Less than a half mile further is an intersection. The road to the left, FR858.3H, goes to a large parking area above the dam of Silver Jack Reservoir. The road to the right, Clear Lake, FR838, goes about a mile to Clear Lake and the Clear Lake Trail, FT247, which is non-motorized. Going straight through this intersection you will come to the Silver Jack Campground entrance on your left.
The road will continue through thicker aspen groves. After making three curves you will come to FR858.3J to your right. This is a short spur road with a few dispersed camp sites along it. Continuing on the main road you will come to an open meadow with a lake in it. There will be a road on your left, FR858.3C, to the Beaver Lake Campground. Staying on the main road you will come to another road on your left, FR858.3A, that goes to the smaller Big Cimarron Campground along the Cimarron River. Past this intersection you will cross a bridge and leave public lands. The road continues as County Road 858 and goes to Highway 50 west of Blue Mesa Reservoir.
|Data updated - December 12, 2020 4WD Road driven - July 22, 2020 Copyright 4X4Explore.com - 2000-2021|