Drive Black Bear Pass & the Ingram Basin

Rate this Adventure Colorado Black Bear Pass, CO

Added by Josiah Roe

Explore the most dangerous 4WD road in Colorado, deep in the alpine heart of the San Juan mountains.

Black Bear Pass (el. 12,840’), officially known as Forest Service Road 648, is an infamous 4WD road that runs between U.S. Highway 550 (between Silverton & Ouray) and Telluride, CO. From the pass downhill through the Ingram Basin to Telluride, the road is one-way and features switchbacks and the notorious “Steps” with several hundred meters of drop-off on either side. 

If driving, you *must* have a 4WD, high-clearance vehicle and experience driving in risky off-road situations, otherwise hike it or book a tour with a group like Telluride Outside.

The pass and the road is only open during the summer and allows excellent access to the San Juan High Country above Telluride, including several alpine lakes and peaks such as Ingram Lake and Trico Peak. Wildflowers are abundant, as are several mining ruins such as the Senator Beck, Andrus, and the Black Bear mines. 

The descent, whether by 4WD vehicle or by foot, traverses across the top of Ingram Falls and provides breathtaking views of Bridal Veil Falls and its Power Station, and of the entire Telluride valley.

Be careful exploring anywhere in the San Juan high country in the summer, as afternoon storms are frequent and lightning strikes are common.

Pack List

  • Hiking shoes
  • 4WD vehicle with high clearance (or book a tour)
  • Food & water
  • Rain gear
  • Air compressor
  • Full-size spare tire
  • Off-road jack
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Activities:

Chillin, Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:

Intermediate

Season:

Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:

Point-to-Point

Distance:

12 Miles

Elev. Gain:

3000 Feet

Features:

Forest
Lake
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife

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Added by Josiah Roe

The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark. - John Muir

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