Hayden Pass  
USGS 7.5' Map: Bushnell Peak, Coaldale
Difficulty: Number: Miles: Altitude: Obstacles: Time:
Moderate 5 FR970, FR6 8.3 10,700 ft. Rock 2 3-4 hours
County: Saguache, Freemont
Adopted by:      
Managed by: Rio Grande National Forest,
Saguache Ranger District
Pike and San Isabel National Forest,
Salida Ranger District
46525 State Highway 114
Saguache, CO 81149
325 West Rainbow Blvd.
Salida, CO 81201


Summary: Hayden Pass 4WD road crosses the Sangre De Cristo Mountains between Villa Grove and Coaldale. The 4WD road is most challenging going from Villa Grove on the southwest side to Coaldale on the northeast side of the pass.
Attractions: Scenery, History, Moderate 4WD Challenge
Agency - March 15 to May 15 (Saguache district).
Best Time: June - Good, may still have drifts closing road
July - Best
August - Best
September - Best
October - Good, early snows may make rocky section impassable
Trail Heads
Black Mountain Trail
Camping: There are no dispersed campsites on the southwest side of the pass. The north east side has some dispersed sites along the road, most are smaller sites. Hayden Creek Campground is located at the start of Hayden Pass on the northeast side.
Base Camp: This would not be a good area to base camp. Other 4WD roads are quite a ways away from the dispersed sites.
Fall Colors: Good - More opportunity on the east side.
Navigation: From Coaldale, CO turn off of US Hwy 50 onto Cnty Road 6, Hayden Creek Road. Go 4.9 miles to the Hayden Creek Campground and continue on Cnty Road 6 to Hayden Pass.

From Villa Grove, CO turn off of US Hwy 285 west onto Cnty Road Ll57. Go 3.0 miles. Continue on Cnty Road Ll57 to the forest boundary and FR970 to Hayden Pass.
History: Hayden Pass was used by the Utes to cross from the Arkansas River to the San Luis Valley. Some believe the pass gets its name from Ferdinand Hayden who crossed the pass in 1875. Others maintain that the pass is named for an early Wet Mountain Valley settler, Lewis Hayden. In 1874 the Canon City and San Luis Valley Wagon Road Company planned a route over the pass. In 1877 Hayden pass is shown as a trail in F. V. Hayden's Atlas. By 1879 Hayden Pass was being used as a well known crossing of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range.

In the early 1880's the town of Oriental existed at the west entrance to Hayden Pass. The town has a small store and a school with two teachers. The mines in the area, the Vanderbilt, Andover, and Mountain Lion, were small workings as the ore deposits of lead and silver were small veins. The Andover was operated by a man named Bushnell. Nothing remains of the town but its location was most likely in the area of the private residence just before entering the mountains and starting the climb up along Hayden Pass Creek.

Koch, Don. The Colorado Pass Book, 3rd ed. Boulder, Colorado: Pruett, 2000. Print.
Helmuth, Ed and Gloria. The Passes of Colorado Boulder, Colorado: Pruett, 1994. Print.
Hayden Pass divides Hayden Pass Creek on the west and Middle Prong of Hayden Creek on the east. Running Hayden Pass 4WD road from the San Luis Valley to the Arkansas River is more difficult. Starting from Villa Grove, CO you head toward the Sangre De Cristo Mountains right out of the center of town. Follow Cnty Road Ll57 across the valley floor. You will pass pastures and fencelines as you climb toward the mountains. The road gets rougher as you head northeast.
West side approach. Hayden Pass 4WD road goes up the deep canyon.

You will come to a large pulloff at an intersection with another county road. You can air down here. From the pulloff the road gets steeper and less maintained. There are areas of past washouts and larger rocks to drive on. Where the road curves south is an intersection with a minor road, FR996, to the left that continues up hill and ends at a flat area. The main road will curve south toward Hayden Pass Creek and enter the forest becoming FR970. After a switchback it will begin a steady steep ascent along Hayden Pass Creek. The road is situated on the side of the steep cut in the mountains formed by Hayden Pass Creek. The incline is continuous and the rocks get larger with a few spots that require a bit of thought to navigate. The gulch will begin to narrow and the trees will get thicker just before you cross over to the other side of Hayden Creek.
Rough and steep section.

From here the road does a series of switchbacks as it makes the final ascent to the pass. Hayden Pass is wide with room to park. There is a trail head to the north toward Galena Mountain. Hayden Pass crosses between Galena Mountain and Black Mountain bisecting the Sangre De Cristo Wilderness.
Top of Hayden Pass

The road down the northeast side of the pass is FR6 and follows a ridge giving some nice views toward the Arkansas River valley. There area areas of large stands of trees that have been blown down. The road makes quite a few switchbacks as it descends from the ridge between Middle Prong of Hayden Creek and South Prong of Hayden Creek. The last part of the 4WD road drops off of the ridge near the Hayden Creek Campground and connects with Cnty Road 6.
East side of Hayden Pass on top of the ridge.

East side of Hayden Pass looking toward Coaldale.

Data updated - April 10, 2016     4WD Road driven - September 5, 2011     Copyright 4X4Explore.com - 2000-2014