Dunckley Pass is a 9,763’ alpine pass located between Yampa and Meeker, Colorado in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area of the Routt National Forest. The journey up and down Dunckley Pass is along the Flat Tops Trail Byway.
The route offers panoramic views of the dense forests, rolling hills, and alpine waters of Colorado’s Rio Blanco and Routt counties. This remote pass is a popular destination all year round as both an easy summer drive and a winter sports paradise. You’ll find plenty to do in the surrounding wilderness, which is split between the Routt and White River national forests.
History of Dunckley Pass
The Flat Tops Scenic Byway is the result of a former Ute Indian Trail that was turned into a freight road for local settlers. Dunckley Pass gets its name from a family of five brothers (Bob, George, John, Richard, and Tom Dunckley), who were ranchers near the pass in the 1890s.
Dunckley Pass Accessibility
When not covered in snow, Dunckley Pass is easily accessible by most passenger vehicles. County Rd 8 (formerly known as State Highway 132) is entirely gravel with nothing more challenging than a few switchbacks on each side of the pass. It’s part of the Flat Tops Trail, a national scenic byway winding 82 miles from Yampa to Meeker.
Seasonality – In general, Dunckley Pass is open to vehicles from Memorial Day (late May) to mid-October. County Road 8 to Dunckley Pass is not plowed in the winter, with passenger vehicle access prohibited after the first major snow. Here, Dunckley Pass becomes a very popular destination for cross country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and dog sledding.
Vehicle Restrictions – There are no vehicle restrictions on County Rd 8 so long as it is open to passenger vehicles. In the summer months, 2WD vehicles can summit the pass easily. However, in the shoulder seasons, the road may be a bit rough with small sections better-suited for high-clearance or 4WD vehicles.
Activities Near Dunckley Pass
At the summit of Dunckley Pass, there is a parking and picnic area with tables and a restroom. The facilities are free for visitors to use, courtesy of the Yampa Ranger District of the US Forest Service. A short walk is required to reach the Dunckley Pass Overlook Picnic Site and is not easily accessible for people with mobility issues.
Dunkley Pass is part of an extensive winter trail system, outlined and maintained by the Yampa Ranger District, which is open to snowmobilers, cross-country skiers, and dog sledders. Although the route to Dunckley Pass is not groomed, there are a few very popular loop trails east of the pass. Here is a map of the area’s trails in the winter.
The Dunckley Pass Trail also begins at the top of Dunckley Pass, which offers visitors the chance to further explore the Flat Tops Wilderness Area. For overnight trips, camping is available near the Chapman Reservoir.
Address: Dunckley Pass, County Rd 8, Hamilton, CO 81638
Season: Year-round (vehicle access from late May to mid-October)
Elevation: 9,763 feet (2,976 meters)
County: Rio Blanco County
Mountain Range: Flat Tops Wilderness
Coordinates: 40°12’06.2″N 107°09’30.0″W
Access: Gravel County Rd 8 for all motor vehicles or snowshoes and snowmobiles in the winter