Pronounced Bore-ays, Boreas Pass is a stunning 22-mile drive through Colorado’s central Rockies, connecting Park and Summit counties. It links the historic village of Como to the thriving resort town of Breckenridge.
Whether you start in Breck or Como, the drive will be exciting and relatively quick. The route is suitable for low-clearance 2WD cars, although it does get a little bumpy in some areas, for the most part, it’s an easy, high-alpine drive. It summits at 11,481 feet above sea level.Situated on Highway 285, just east of Fairplay, Como makes a great starting point because then you can spend your day after in Breck. Como doesn’t offer any ammenities, so fuel up well before then. A former railroad town, Como was connected to Breck only by train in its heyday. Boreas Pass was originally the nation’s highest narrow-gauge railroad, running from 1872 to 1938. During WWII the train tracks were picked up for resources. In 1952 the pass was converted into an automobile friendly road.
Take your time on the drive, as the sights are spectacular and the journey is the attraction. At the top of Boreas Pass is the Section House, part of a former railroad community of 150, which is presently open during the winter season for rental by cross country skiers. On the trek down into Breckeridge, you’ll get gorgeous views of the Blue River Valley and Tenmile Range. You’ll also pass the Bakers Tank, another gem from Colorado’s past.
Camping on Boreas Pass
Dispersed campsites are fairly easy to find on both sides of the pass, just look for pullovers for your car and then a firering. Some sites are down off the road in the forest, so you may have to scan for a bit before finding one. When I passed through on a summer Saturday evening, nearly all the campsites were open, so it shouldn’t be too hard to secure a spot.
There is one campground on the Summit County side called Selkirk CG. It houses fifteen campsites, each with a table and a firering. There are vault toilets, but no water available. It’s first-come, first-serve.
What Else To Do
Hiking and biking are the main draws, as well as off-highway vehicles. If you plan to hike or bike, you can park at a number of trailheads, including the Bakers Tank Trailhead, 3.5 miles out of Breckenridge. This is the same place you’d park if you were cross country skiing in the winter.
From Como: Take Highway 285 to Como, and then north into town. Follow signs for Boreas Pass and you can’t miss it.
From Breck: Go to the south end of town and take a left onto Boreas Pass Road/County Road 10. Follow that to Como.The route crosses the Continental Divide at the headwaters of two famous Colorado rivers: Blue River and South Platte River. The Blue River flows north through Breckenridge before connecting with the Colorado River in Kremmling. The South Platte River flows south into South Park basin before meandering its way out past Deckers and up through Denver.
Boreas makes a great alternative route to Breckenridge from Highway 285, instead of the normal Hoosier Pass, which is a paved road connecting with Fairplay. It closes in the winter, but you can still access a few miles on either side for recreation. Cross country skiers can trek to the top and stay the night at the Section House.