Amazing Views Await Atop Colorado’s Owl Creek Pass
There's a scenic drive that's off of the pavement but is still driveable even if you don't have an SUV or 4x4. It's the drive over Owl Creek Pass.
There are two ways to access Owl Creek Road, which was originally a cattle drive trail in the late 1800s. One is from Highway 550 near Ridgway State Park. The other is from Highway 50 east of Montrose at Cimmaron.
Round trip from Montrose is 85 miles. The drive will take about three hours, but almost everyone makes several stops along the way so this is best approached as a one-day getaway.
The road is mostly improved gravel and there generally isn't a lot of traffic, so it's easy to just make the drive at a leisurely pace and pull off at various points along the way to hike and take pictures.
In addition to a camera and a picnic lunch, a fishing rod will come in handy as the road is also the route to Silver Jack Reservoir and Beaver Lake. There is also access to off-road and hiking trails in several different places along the way.
Another reason to make this road trip is it gives you a spectacular view of Chimney Rock and Courthouse Mountain. You'll also be passing through areas where parts of two movies John Wayne starred in, 'How the West Was Won' and 'True Grit' were filmed.
My best memory of this road trip is it was my daughter Alli's very first experience driving a mountain road. For a novice teen driver, the winding and sometimes narrow road from Ridgway to the summit of Owl Creek Pass was just enough of a challenge to teach her how to shift gears when climbing and descending and handling a vehicle off of the pavement.
If you take the drive this summer, be aware the National Forest Service is doing some road improvements so there may be some delays, but with the incredible scenery, you won't really care.