Pearl Pass  
Maps:    
USGS 7.5' Map: Gothic, Pearl Pass, Hayden Peak
Statistics:
Difficulty: Number: Miles: Altitude: Obstacles: Time:
Moderate 6 FR738, Cnty 15 14.20 9,000 to 12,705 ft. Ledge - 2
Rocks - 5
5-6 hours
County: Gunnison, Pitkin
Adopted by: Blue Mesa 4 Wheelers 803 Noth Pine
Gunnison, CO 81230
(970)641-3661
Managed by: Gunnison National Forest, Gunnison Ranger District
Pitkin County

216 N. Colorado, Gunnison, CO 81230

530 E. Main St. 3rd Floor, Aspen, CO 81611
(970)641-0471

(970)920-5200

Summary: Pearl Pass is a long 4WD road that connects Crested Butte with Aspen. It crosses the Continental Divide between Pearl Mountain and Star Peak. Some mining was done on the north side of the pass around Malamute Peak and along Castle Creek.
Attractions: Pass, Scenic, Historic
Seasonal
Closure:
Agency - February 29 to May 26
Best Time: June - North side will still be snowed in
July - May still be snowed in
August - Best
September - Best
October - Early snows may close the pass
Summer
Activities:
Hiking -
Brush Creek Trail FT 400 - 5.7 miles long
Twin Lakes Trail FT 402 - 2.9 miles long
Farris Creek Trail FT 409 - 6.1 miles long
Teocalli Mountain Trail FT 554 - 2.3 miles long
Teocalli Ridge Trail FT 557 - 4.6 miles long
Cumberland Basin Trail FT 579 - 2.1 miles long

Equestrian -
Brush Creek Trail FT 400 - 5.7 miles long
Twin Lakes Trail FT 402 - 2.9 miles long
Farris Creek Trail FT 409 - 6.1 miles long
Teocalli Mountain Trail FT 554 - 2.3 miles long
Teocalli Ridge Trail FT 557 - 4.6 miles long
Cumberland Basin Trail FT 579 - 2.1 miles long

Mountain Bike -
Brush Creek Trail FT 400 - 5.7 miles long
Farris Creek Trail FT 409 - 6.1 miles long
Teocalli Mountain Trail FT 554 - 2.3 miles long
Teocalli Ridge Trail FT 557 - 4.6 miles long

ATV -
West Brush Creek FR 738.2A
West Brush Creek FR 582

Motorcycle -
Brush Creek Trail FT 400 - 5.7 miles long
Farris Creek Trail FT 409 - 6.1 miles long
Teocalli Mountain Trail FT 554 - 2.3 miles long
Teocalli Ridge Trail FT 557 - 4.6 miles long

Camping: There are dispersed campsites all along Brush Creek, south side. Castle Creek, on the north side, has seven designated sites close to the Castle Creek Road south of Aspen.
Base Camp: This would be a good area to base camp. There are many 4WD roads around Crested Butte on the south side of Pearl Pass and Aspen on the north side of Pearl Pass.
Fall Colors: Excellent - The Crested Butte side of Pearl Pass is through large aspen groves.
Winter
Activities:
Snowshoeing -
Cross Country Skiing-
Snowmobile -
Navigation: From Crested Butte, CO head south on Colorado-135 toward Belleview Ave. Go 1.9 miles and turn left onto Co Rd 738. Go 4.6 miles and take a slight right. Go 1.0 mile. Continue on FR 738, the Pearl Pass road.

From Aspen, CO head west on West Main Street toward North 1st Street for 0.5 miles. Turn right onto North 7th Street and go 0.1 miles. Turn left onto Colorado-82 and head west for 0.5 miles. At the traffic circle, take the 3rd exit onto Castle Creek Road and go 13.0 miles to a right hand turn onto a gravel road. This is the start of the Pearl Pass road, County Rd 15.

From Gunnison, CO head north on Colorado-135/Main Street for 25.3 miles. Turn right onto County Rd 738 before reaching Crested Butte. Go 4.6 miles and turn right at a field gate. Go 1.0 mile to the forest boundary and the start of the Pearl Pass road.
History: In the summer of 1879 prospectors crossed the pass and found gold in the creeks above Ashcroft. By 1882 a wagon road had been established to haul the ore from the new mines to the mills near Crested Butte. After three years the route was no longer used because of othe roads that were lower and had better access.

Helmuth, Ed and Gloria. The Passes of Colorado Boulder, Colorado: Pruett, 1994. Print.
Description:
To drive Pearl Pass from the Creseted Butte side you will drive through a residential area near the Crested Butte Airport and then on to the bottom lands of Brush Creek passing the Brush Creek Cow Camp. Once you enter the public lands the road becomes a two track 4WD road.
Mount Crested Butte. Pearl Pass road just above trees.

photo by:
Adam M

At the intersection with West Brush Creek 4WD road (FR 738.2A) stay to the right to follow the Pearl Pass 4WD road (FR738). You will pass the Farris Creek Trail (FT409) connection on the right after crossing West Brush Creek. The road continues to climb through a series of broad switchbacks that take you through small groves of aspen trees.
Aspen grove

photo by:
Adam M

Larger aspen grove

photo by:
Adam M

Next you will pass the connection with Teocalli Ridge Trail (FT557) on your left before dropping down closer to Brush Creek. There are some dispersed camp sites along the creek through this area. After crossing Brush Creek the connection with the Brush Creek Trail (FT400) will be on your right. The road heads north following the creek and climbing through pine forests. As the road climbs higher it will come out into more open terrain giving you great views of the Continental Divide.
Continental Divide

photo by:
Adam M

You will drive through another section of pine forest before heading to the northeast and passing a trail head for access into the Maroon Bells/Snowmass Wilderness. The road will continue northeast following the creek.
Mount Crested Butte in the distance. Pearl Pass road below.

photo by:
Adam M

You will come to two areas that are mud holes that have had road maintenance work done to harden these areas. Once past these mud holes you will climb a long switchback that crosses a talus slope giving you great views of the valley you just drove up.
Talus slope section

photo by:
Adam M

This section of the 4WD road is narrow. The road will continue around the south side of a spur off of Pearl Mountain before heading north again. There will be two flat areas that make nice camps spots just below timberline.
Two vehicles on the road, left of center.

photo by:
Adam M

As you continue to climb the terrain will become more rocky now that you are above timberline.
Above timberline

photo by:
Adam M

At the top of a long ridge you will have a view Peal Pass to the north.
Pearl Pass, right of center.

photo by:
Adam M

Continue along on the legde road being aware of any oncoming traffic. There are few places to pass on this section. Finally you will reach Pearl Pass, a sharp ridgeline with little space to park.
Pearl Pass looking northeast

photo by:
Adam M

Immediately the road continues down the north side of the ridge. You are now on the Aspen Ranger District, and have changed to County Road 15.
Pearl Pass, north side.

photo by:
Adam M

The landscape will change to a broken field of large boulders. Chunks of rock off of Pearl Mountain to your west.
Rock field

photo by:
Adam M

The road works its way across this rocky landscape and heads for the rolling tundra ahead of you. The road will continue to head mainly north giving you views of Pearl Pass.
Pearl Pass from the north

photo by:
Adam M

You will enter a more vegetated area and then start down a series of short switchbacks to gain access to the creek in the valley below.
Switchbacks heading down to Castle Creek

photo by:
Adam M

There will be a cabin at one of the long sections of road before a sharp switchback. This is just before you cross the creek and then head further down the valley. At the first turn of a short switchback you will pass the intersection to the left for the Montezuma Mine Road (FR129). Continue down the switchbacks. You will pass views of some short and tall waterfalls as you head down the valley. You will pass a house along the road as well. On the other side of the creek from the private property you can see the remains of an old mine operation.
Mine remains

photo by:
Adam M

After you cross the creek again you will start passing designated campsites on both sides of the road. You will also pass a small pond before connecting with the paved part of County Road 15 that heads down to Aspen, CO.
Data updated: April 14, 2014        4WD Road driven: September 3, 2012        Copyright 4X4Explore.com - 2000-2014