Taylor Pass  
USGS 7.5' Map: Hayden Peak, New York Peak, Italian Creek
Difficulty: Number: Miles: Altitude: Obstacles: Time:
Moderate 7 FR761, Cnty15C 7.60 9,480 to 11,928 ft. Rocks - 3 3-4 hours
County: Gunnison, Pitkin
Adopted by:      
Managed by: Gunnison NF, Gunnison Ranger District
Pitkin County
216 N. Colorado, Gunnison, CO 81230
530 E. Main St. 3rd Floor, Aspen, CO 81611
Summary: Taylor Pass is an easier 4WD road on the north side with good aspen viewing. The south side of Taylor Pass has the main obstacle and more dispersed campsites.
Attractions: Scenic views, obstacles, fall colors.
Natural - Closed by snow fall
Best Time: July - May still be snowed in
August - Best
September - Best
October - Early snows may close the pass
Trail Heads  
Camping: There are a few dispersed campsites on the north side of Taylor Pass close to treeline. The south side of Taylor Pass has a lot of campsites along the road.
Base Camp: The south side of Taylor Pass is a great place to base camp. There are numerous 4WD roads around Taylor Park. The north side of Taylor Pass gives good access to the 4WD roads south of Aspen.
Fall Colors: Excellent - Express Creek (north side of Taylor Pass) is mainly aspen trees.
Navigation: From Aspen, CO head west on West Main Street toward North 1st Street and go 0.5 miles. Turn right onto North 7th Street and go 0.1 miles. Turn left onto Colorado-82 West and go 0.5 miles. At the traffic circle, take the 3rd exit onto Castle Creek Road and go 10.7 miles. Turn left onto County Rd 15C/Express Creek Road. This is the start of the Taylor Pass road.

From Gunnison, CO head north on Colorado-135/North Main Street. Continue to follow Colorado-135 for 10.2 miles. Turn right onto County Rd 742 in Almont, CO. Go 40.4 miles, following the Taylor River and passing Taylor Reservoir. Turn right onto Forest Service road FR 761, the Taylor Pass road.

From Buena Vista, CO head west on County Rd 306. Go 19.2 miles crossing Cottonwood Pass. Continue onto County Rd 209, the west side of Cottonwood Pass, for 13.6 miles. Turn right onto County Rd 742 and go 15.3 miles. Turn right onto Forest Service road FR761, the Taylor Pass road.
History: Taylor Pass, officially named in 1940, was named after Jim Taylor, a local mining pioneer who searched for gold in the area in 1860. Taylor Pass was one of the first passes to service the Ashcroft Mining District. At the time wagons had to be dismantled and lowered over the pass on the north side.

In 1880 Stevens and Company, owned by H. B. Gillespie built a wagon road over the pass and started a stage route. In 1881 telegraph lines crossed the pass. By the 1890s the pass was hardly used. In 1901 there was an idea of building a railroad over the pass with a tunnel near the top, but it never got started. In 1969 the Taylor Pass road was improved, though today it is very rough on the south side.

Helmuth, Ed and Gloria. The Passes of Colorado Boulder, Colorado: Pruett, 1994. Print.
Starting from the north side of Taylor Pass you will leave County Road 15 and head up Express Creek, County Road 15C, on the Taylor Pass road. The road will climb up on the side of the valley of Express Creek giving you views of the Continental Divide through the groves of aspen.
Lower section, north side

photo by:
Adam M

You will continue to climb passing some avalanche chutes and going through more groves of aspen. In the fall Taylor Pass is a great place to view the aspen trees as they turn golden.
Upper section, north side

photo by:
Adam M

As you continue up Express Creek you will pass spur roads. Some of these roads go to campsites, others to dead ends and private property. When you approach timberline the road will nead northeast and climb a rougher section with ruts and large rocks. This is the head of the valley and to your right will be a long ridge and Taylor Pass.
Head of Express Creek, north side

photo by:
Adam M

After making the switchback you will be driving on a ledge road that climbs up to an open parking area that is Taylor Pass.
Ledge section, north side

photo by:
Adam M

From Taylor Pass with Taylor Lake below

photo by:
Adam M

From here you will have views of Taylor Park to the south and the Maroon Bells to the north. Continue over the ridge and down toward Taylor Lake on FR761 or FR761.1D. These roads go around both sides of the lake and will come back together below the Taylor Lake.

From here head down the Taylor Pass road (FR761). You will progress much slower now as the road is made of large boulders and rocks. There will be spots where multiple routes exist. Try to stay on the main road. After about a mile and a half from Taylor Lake you will come to the main obstacle on the Taylor Pass road.
Main obstacle, south side

photo by:
Adam M

It is a drop off down to the creek that has large boulders embeded in it. There are a few different routes to take. The best one will depend on your vehicle and abilities.
Below main obstacle

photo by:
Larry M

Once down in the creek you will follow it, or in reality the creek flows down the road, for about a half mile before you stay on dry land. There will be some dispersed campsites along the road as it drops down another mile or so to tie in with the Taylor River road, FR742, a graded road that runs down to Taylor Park Reservoir.
Data updated - February 18, 2017        4WD Road driven - September 3, 2012        Copyright 4X4Explore.com - 2000-2017