Rollins (Corona) Pass Colorado
Today the Amtrak goes through a 6 mile long tunnel. In the gold rush days the trains went over this pass. Sometimes called "Moffat Road"
I have been up both sides of the this pass. From the east and the west. These photos are taken on my trip in September of 2004 up the western side, known as Corona Pass. In the late 1970's you could still drive across the old railroad trestle. That is if you were brave enough. I drove my jeep this time right up to the tunnel. Some fairly steep grades with loose rocks and nice drop-offs. Look at the last pictures in the group. If you go, take your time as there is plenty to see. Here is an OLD map to guide you.
A reader writes. - I just wanted to share that, my uncle, Martin Rhodes, originally engineered the 6-mile tunnel that Amtrak now goes through. He died in November 1963, 2 days before John Kennedy. He was married to Grace Harris Rhodes, my dad's sister. She died in 1994 in Littleton/Denver area. Most my family still live in Arora County, Wheatridge, Littleton and Brush.
A reader writes - Stumbled across your website and the pics of Rollins Pass. My first crossing was sometime in the mid-60's with my dad and mom in old 58 Dodge car. We actually drove all of the way east to west several times over the next few years. My last trip over the pass was on the Labor day weekend 1971. There was snow on the west side of the tunnel and over the railroad trestle. We made it up the hill and over the top in a 64 Dodge Dart wagon with only one snow tire. We stopped in Winter Park for a beer and then back over Berthoud to home. At that time you could still drive through the tunnel also. That pass has some high pucker places in it but I have great memories from those trips. Great website. Tom L. Pocatello, Idaho
A viewer writes -
Enjoyed the pictures on your site. I made an attempt to drive across Rollings
from the east side in early September, 1973. I remember seeing a freight train
headed for the Moffat tunnel being pulled by FIVE engines, and only crawling at
25mph. I don't know how far I made it up the east side because I was forced to
turn around after a sharp rock in the road (by then only two ruts in the rocks
and dirt) removed one of the mufflers on my '68 Plymouth. It was fully dark by
then and I somehow was able to turn around and head back to Denver with a very
noisy car. Having seen pictures of the whole route I now realize I was lucky to
be forced to give it up before I got into a truly dangerous situation in the
dark. I had no idea the entire road was 28 miles long nor do I know how far I
got, except I was still in the trees at the point I turned around. When I gave
it up it seemed like I had been driving for hours. I was high enough that the
road was in poor condition--only two ruts with many sharp rocks protruding from
the ground between the ruts, one of which tore off my right muffler. Lesson
learned--I never tried that again, but am glad to see what I didn't get to see.
In retrospect I was very lucky I only lost a muffler. An ordinary car, darkness
on the way, no idea of how far I had to go, it was crazy to attempt on a
September afternoon with daylight ending so soon. I was 28 at the time, and knew
nothing of driving on unpaved mountain roads.
I was surprised to read others' comments about driving that road in ordinary
autos, and I have read on the Rollins Pass Restoration Association's website
that it was an open road for auto traffic from 1955 until the first tunnel
collapse. No doubt I was seriously hampered by the fall of darkness, but by the
time I turned around, I thought the road was no place for an ordinary car, there
were so many sharp rocks between the ruts.
A viewer writes - Reading other people’s experiences is a giggle. Before the tunnel was closed the first time I rode over it from Rollinsville on a 750-K1 Honda motorcycle with Class C road racing tires. There are lots worse roads in Colorado, and after the first trip, I went over several times in a passenger car…susan
A viewer writes - Monday, November 17, 2008 - I just took a trip in October 2008 up Rollins Pass from the west side with my boyfriend and his family. We drove up to the sign that tells about Rollins Pass. We could've driven all the way to the Needle's Eye tunnel but it was getting late and we wanted to head back down. Oh yeah, it was in a Dodge Caravan! :-P It was a rental and we had a family friend from the area who is an experienced off-roader drive it. We got to the top and saw someone in an old pickup truck with a camper shell camping out up there. Brr! It is really beautiful up there at the top of the world. Its exactly like it was describe so long ago! As you're driving along you can see parts of the old snow sheds and buildings that were at the top of the pass. The conditions were great! The ride was a bit bumpy from time to time. Definitely would recommend using a 4 wheel drive vehicle unless the conditions are absolutely perfect.
A viewer writes - Monday, March 08, 2010 - Wow! Such memories......such scary memories! My family and I made several trips over Rollins pass in the late 60's and early 70's. I was born in 1960 so I was fairly young at the time. We took a Rambler or a Volkswagen Van on these trips and made it every time. My most vivid memories were the crossing of the Devils Slide trestle, nothing scared me more.
A viewer writes - Wednesday, September 08, 2010 - Rollins Pass: It was my "Rocky Mountain High" in the summer of '78. Crossed from East Portal to Winter Park in my '77 VW Rabbit, with a few days camping on a stream below Yankee Doodle lake. It showed me I needed to move out of Peoria Illinois. It's a shame you can no longer make that trip, but it's still in my head. Vance - Cathedral City, CA
A viewer writes Thursday, September 09, 2010 - Really enjoyed the pictures oft the Moffat Road. I have been up both sides a little way and would love to have gone to the top. I am a Texan who is a Moffat road fan and subscribe to the Rollins Pass Pass Restoration Newsletter. Sure hope they get the Needles Eye Tunnel opened in my lifetime.
A viewer writes - Monday, October 11, 2010 - I just read some of the stories about Rollins' Pass. Last time I had the privilege to go from Rollinsville to Winter Park was 1977 in my new Jeep CJ5. My Dad & I did a lot of off roading that week. We really enjoyed the old trestles we drove across to get there & back. From what I recall, you could take a lot of side trips (4X4 only) off the main road higher up the mountain. I wish someone could fix that road again. I'd drive from St. Louis, Mo again to travel it. Dave Collins
A viewer writes - Sunday, October 24, 2010 - I made several trips over Rollins Pass in the late 1950's in my 1950 Chevrolet sedan. A dear friend and I also traveled the pass in his pickup and camper. I have some 35mm slides of his truck going through Needle's Eye tunnel. We climbed down to explore the wreckage of some runaway trains that jumped the tracks and went to the bottom. I haven't been to Colorado in many years, but I still think the Colorado Rockies are the most beautiful place in the world! Derral (email@example.com)
A viewer writes Friday 11/19/2010 - I've enjoyed looking over your website. The photos take me back to a foolish day in my life in the summer of 1981 when I drove over the Rollins Pass from east to west in my little Fiat Spider sports car. We drove it through the Needle's Eye tunnel, which was still open but littered with large boulders, with only just enough room to squeeze through. Then we went over the 2 Devil's Slide trestles and on the far side of the second one we met a long column of traffic which had driven up from the west side. The looks we got from these drivers suggested to me that perhaps I was a bit crazy to have trusted the trestles. I think I must have been one of the last vehicles to complete the drive . ?? I have some photos of that trip if you are interested. Dave MacMillan
A viewer writes - Friday, December 31, 2010 -- My future wife and I drove the whole Moffat road the summer of 1977 in a Camaro!! Lot's of fog up high but the vistas coming down were beautiful. We attempted it in 1981 and found it closed. I think it was because of the tunnel collapse? Roger, Dayton Ohio
A viewer writes - Saturday, January 15, 2011 -- I went up the west side of Corona with my parents in about 1937 or 1938. We had a picnic on top and gathered up some wire from a fallen-down telegraph line which we used as clothesline for many years. It was mid-summer, but my recollection is that it was very cold up there. My cousin, a very large man, tested the trestles for us by walking across. We figured that if they could support him, they were safe to drive across... Joe
A viewer writes - Thursday, January 27, 2011 ---- My wife and I drove my Volkswagen bus over the pass in about 1974 I believe it was. If I remember, the road was in pretty good shape. I stopped and did a little fly fishing in one of the lakes, but now that I look back on it, I don't think there were any fish in it.
But I didn't care. Being an Indiana boy, I just love being in the mountains. I really hope it gets repaired and usable someday, but that doesn't look too likely.
Very awesome website!!!
A viewer writes - Friday, July 01, 2011 -- Drove in family car east to west through tunnel #32, Needle Eye, and over the two bridges. No problems. Took my Dad who had gone from Denver to Corona and return about 1915. The railroad "Town" was Corona, the pass is Rollins Pass. There is no Corona Pass. In about 1982 I came up from Winter Park in a 4WD and drove almost to the west portal of the tunnel, #33, at the Loop.
In 2005 I again came up from Winter Park in a 4WD, drove past the Loop and then on the old wagon road to the parking area north of Needle Eye tunnel. Then down the zigzag toward Yankee Doodle Lake, but not without hanging the transmission on a rock and working 1.5 hours to get myself loose. I then had to go up a slippery slope that acted like loose shale, then down to YDL. I do not recommend this trip, even in a 4WD, as the zigzag section below the parking area was steep and had a lot of loose gravel.
A viewer writes - Wednesday, August 24, 2011 -- I rode over Rollins Pass on my bicycle in 1979. I remember I had to pick the bicycle up and carry through the tunnel. As I went down the other side of the pass (toward Boulder direction, I think), it started to snow and hail; I thought it was funny and started singing Christmas carols, until I realized it wasn't letting up. I made to the bottom of the pass thoroughly drenched and near frozen. I had just finished a group ride over 8 passes and decided to tackle Rollins on my own before I went home to southern California. I have a cool pick but don't know how to upload it. Laurie, San Diego, CA
Rocky says I do - See it below.
A viewer writes -- Wednesday, December 12, 2012 -- My parents were members of the Colorado Ghost Town Club and we made many trips over Rollins pass during the 60's in our old Willys wagon. We caught many fish at pumphouse lake on the top where Rollinsville used to stand and I have fond memories of needles eye tunnel and the trestles. I can't remember when the tunnel was closed by the forest service, but i visited for the last time in 1985. I now live down in central Florida, but I still have a bookcase full of books documenting the Colorado railroads which serviced many of the ghost towns and mining camps throughout the state. It's nice to revisit periodically. Larry B
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