With a reputation for being the most deadly pass in Colorado, it should come at no surprise that traversing Schofield Pass is one of the most dangerous off road expeditions in the state. Bearing that in mind, experienced daredevils that traverse the 15 miles of rocky terrain connecting Marble with Crested Butte are awarded with breathtaking, isolated wilderness views.
Schofield Pass is named after B. F. Schofield, who was a silver miner in the area. However, the pass had been used by the native Ute tribe prior to Schofield’s arrival which led to tension and violence. In 1873, the first road was built over Schofield Pass to what is now known as the Crystal River. The route was known as “S.O.B. Trail” due to the road’s difficulty.
The old wagon road began to lose popularity and was not rebuilt until the mid 1900’s. Overall, the project took 22 years to complete, allowing access from Marble to Crested Butte beginning in 1958. Since then, it has been the unfortunate scene for a few deadly automobile accidents.
Schofield Pass Accessibility
When it is open, the journey between Marble and Crested Butte is challenging and should only be attempted by experienced and confident off road drivers. A small, high clearance vehicle is necessary to complete the entire route.
The route is very challenging and has taken the lives of a dozen travelers. Most accidents occur heading downhill into the section known as “the Devil’s Punchbowl.”
Seasonality – Schofield Pass is closed for most of the year due to snowy and muddy conditions. It is typically open for a month or two in the Late Summer, beginning in August.
Vehicle Restrictions – From Crested Butte, Schofield Pass is generally accessible by most high clearance vehicles. However, for those that are continuing northbound to Crystal, a 4x4x, ATVs, or Jeep-type of vehicle is required.
Activities near Schofield Pass
Schofield Pass is found north of Crested Butte, within the Gunnison National Forest. The area is extremely isolated with towering mountain peaks amongst sprawling aspen and pines. From the Pass, visitors can catch a glimpse of Maroon Peak, and a distant peak at Aspen’s most famous wilderness area.
To the south, Crested Butte is a scenic mountain town with restaurants, lodging and winter downhill skiing. Schofield Pass is also located near The Crystal Mill, an iconic and popular Colorado destination located close by the ghost town of Crystal. You’ll also pass by Gothic, CO closer to Crested Butte, anther ghost town.
Season: Late Summer Only (August)
Elevation: 10,707 ft (3,263 m)
County: Gunnison County
Mountain Range: Sawatch
Coordinates: 39°00′54″N 107°02′48″W
Access: Advanced 4WD Road Gothic Road