Colorado’s Most Dangerous Roads

East Colfax Avenue Denver CO

From treacherous mountain passes to congested city streets, these are some of the most dangerous roads you’ll find throughout Colorado. You probably won’t be surprised to encounter some of the roads on this list, like terrifyingly narrow high-elevation alpine drives, but you might not realize that your commute to and from work might be on one of the state’s most perilous roadways.

Some of the roads mentioned are featured because of factors like elevation, the width of the road, and weather conditions, while others have earned the macabre honor due to the high numbers of accidents and fatalities they’ve produced over the years.

Marble to Crested Butte via Schofield Pass

Only accessible to 4WD vehicles, Schofield Pass is an extremely treacherous 15-mile mountain road that connects the communities of Marble and Crested Butte. Formerly known as the “S.O.B” trail for being so difficult to traverse, Schofield Pass is the site of multiple serious accidents every year, and the road has taken more than a dozen lives over the decades.

But even with the huge risks, people of all extreme driving experience levels attempt to conquer this pass each year often with tragic results.

Denver County: Colfax, Federal, and Sheridan Ave

East Colfax Avenue Denver COCars pass by on Denver’s East Colfax. Photo by: Daniel Moskowitz

If you live in Denver, Colfax, Federal, and Sheridan are streets that are probably part of your daily life in the Mile High City. But what you might not know is that these avenues are considered to be some of the most dangerous roads in the state.

A 2o19 report issued by the city of Denver found that these roadways were associated with a higher number of accidents that resulted in injuries than other streets in surrounding areas. Colfax and Federal are thought of as Denver’s main streets, with nearby Sheridan functioning in a similar capacity.

The problem mainly comes down to congestion and a city that’s outgrowing its current infrastructure at a rapid pace. A surprising fact about these dangerous Denver streets is that about half of their accidents include drivers that aren’t Denver residents.

Black Bear Pass

Black Bear Pass and Mine over Ingram Falls, COBlack Bear Pass and Mine over Ingram Falls. Photo: Brendan Bombaci

Located in San Miguel County in southwestern Colorado, Black Bear Pass is a dirt road that reaches heights of 12,844 ft, making it one of the state’s higher mountain passes. This pass boasts heavenly alpine views and a great deal of danger, with perilously steep switchbacks and intense, narrow passages.

If you’re nutty enough to try it, you’ll have access to two gorgeous waterfalls and stellar views of the San Juan Mountains.

Argentine Pass

Not for drivers of the faint of heart, Argentine Pass winds high atop elevations of 13,207 feet and features terrifyingly narrow sections. If your car is oversized, this pass is not for you. In fact, this road isn’t for the vast majority of drivers. It’s located near Georgetown, Colorado, and climbs the side of the continental divide.

Imogene Pass

Imogene Pass Trail Run, COImogene Pass Trail Run. Photo: underactive

Only accessible for experienced 4WD drivers, Imogene Pass treks through butterfly-inducing steep terrain at heights of up to 13,114 ft. It’s located in southwestern Colorado’s Ouray County and has a reputation for slippery, difficult-to-pass sections and mercurial weather conditions even in the middle of summer.

Thrill-seekers attempt this road every year because it passes through one of the most arresting mountain landscapes in the state and for the bragging rights.

El Paso Co: 1-25, Powers + Stetson Hills, and Fountain + Academy

In 2020, El Paso County experienced 82 fatal crashes, with 49 occurring in the city of Colorado Springs. That same year Denver saw 50 fatal crashes but is a far bigger city and metropolitan. The population boom Colorado Springs has experienced in recent years has come at a cost of highly congested roadways, and statistics show that many auto accidents occur at intersections along 1-25.

Notoriously dangerous intersections in Colorado Springs that aren’t located near 1-25 include Powers and Stetson Hills and Fountain and Academy.

Oh-My-God Road

Oh-My-God Road, COOh-My-God Road. Photo: Simon Foot

In theory, this mountain road is wide enough to accommodate two passing cars, but you might have serious doubts about that if you attempt to drive it yourself. Located on the boundary between Gilpin and Clear Creek counties, most of this road is unpaved, but it’s slowly being made accessible for conventional cars at a slow clip of one mile per year.

In its current state, this high-elevation road features sections of 12% grade steepness and lacks guardrails. It should be noted that while lots of the dangerous roads you’ll find on this list offer gorgeous views, the ones you’ll find while driving this one aren’t particularly memorable.

Gold Belt Scenic Byway

Gold Belt Tour Scenic Byway, COGold Belt Tour Scenic Byway. Photo: Jimmy Emerson, DVM

This mountain road features stunning alpine scenery and a couple of notoriously dangerous sections. Phantom Canyon Road passes through one-way tunnels and skinny segments that will induce discomfort for drivers while Shelf Road winds through scenic but treacherously steep cliffs.

Even with the dangers, the natural beauty this byway offers attracts drivers of various skill levels every year.

Monarch Pass

Monarch Pass, COMonarch Pass. Photo: Ben Simo

Don’t let this paved road fool you. The trek through Salida to Gunnison is notoriously dangerous and has earned a reputation for being the site of far more car accidents than the surrounding roads every year. It’s so stunning it was showcased on Fast & Furious 7.

Steep inclines, dangerous winter conditions, and sections without shoulders make Monarch Pass a Colorado roadway that should only be driven by experienced and focused drivers. This roadway is certainly dangerous, but it offers arresting views of the Sawatch Range.

Million Dollar Highway

The Million Dollar Highway, COThe Million Dollar Highway. Photo: turcottes78

This dangerous road winds through the San Juan Mountains and separates Ouray and San Juan counties. Its lack of guard rails and steep sections add to the danger of driving this road, with frequent rock slides and avalanches making it even riskier. Red Mountain Pass is notoriously tough to drive during the winter and features tricky 8 % grade sections.

Named after the price some say it’d take them to willingly drive it, the Million Dollar Highway often tops lists for most dangerous drives in the world. Coal Bank Pass is considered to be one of its most treacherous sections due to steep conditions and unpredictable weather events. It’s located further past Silverton toward Durango on Highway 550.

From busy interactions located in the heart of Colorado’s largest cities to sketchy high-elevation mountain roadways, these are some of the most dangerous roads in the state. It should go without saying that without experience and the right vehicle, it’s not a good idea to attempt driving some of the roads mentioned on this list.

Author: Edward Adams