West of Leadville, Colorado, Hagerman Pass invites adventurous drivers to explore nearly 12,000 feet above spectacular Rocky Mountain terrain. Hagerman Pass is only accessible with a high clearance 4×4 vehicle in a limited season, but is filled with panoramic views, scenic lakes, fall colors, and opportunities for free camping.
History of Hagerman Pass
Hagerman Pass gets its name from James J. Hagerman, who built the Colorado Midland Railroad. Near Hagerman Pass, the Colorado Midland Railroad once traveled first through the Hagerman Tunnel and later through the Busk–Ivanhoe Tunnel. Today, the Busk-Ivanhoe tunnel is used to divert water from Ivanhoe Lake across the continental divide to the Arkansas River Valley to the east.
Hagerman Pass Accessibility
At nearly 12,000 feet in elevation, Hagerman Pass is both difficult to reach and subject to dangerous weather patterns, landslides, and avalanches. Before traveling to Hagerman Pass, visitors should always check weather conditions and assess that their vehicle is suitable for rough terrain.
Seasonality – Access to Hagerman Pass typically opens in late May, with snow usually blocking the pass until as late as early July. The pass remains open until the first major snowstorm each fall, which is usually in late October or early November.
Vehicle Restrictions – 2WD vehicles are not able to reach the summit, due to rocky terrain and multiple stream crossings. Hagerman Pass Rd is relatively easy for high-clearance, 4WD, and off-road vehicles.
Only experienced drivers in Jeeps, OHV’s, etc. should continue through Hagerman Pass into the White River National Forest. The west side of the pass has steep switchbacks as well as the infamous “Hell Gate” section.
Activities Near Hagerman Pass
From Leadville to the summit, the journey up Hagerman Pass offers an unlimited number of scenic stops, including Turquoise Lake and the Colorado Midland Trail. Beyond this, the San Isabel and White River National Forests offer tremendous opportunities for hiking, fishing, rock climbing, and other outdoor activities.
If you’d like to spend the night, a handful of first-come, first-served dispersed campsites can be found on both sides of the road, leading to and descending from Hagerman Pass. Off the main drag, there are also campsites available near Ivanhoe Lake on the west side of the divide.
- Read about the camping near Leadville and Twin Lakes.
- Read about the camping near Basalt, Snowmass and Aspen.
Address: Hagerman Pass, Hagerman Pass Road (Forest Rd 105), Leadville, CO 80461
Season: Late May to Early November
Elevation: 11,925 ft (3,635 m)
Mountain Range: Sawatch Range
Coordinates: 39°15′54″N 106°29′02″W
Access: Unpaved Forest Rd 105 via 4WD Vehicle, OHV, Bike, or Hike