Explore the Historic Railroad Route up Rollins Pass

Rate this Adventure Rollin's Pass, Nederland, Colorado, United States

  • Activities:

    Camping, Fishing, Photography, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Summer, Autumn

Dog Friendly
Forest
Lake
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Drive to the top of the Continental Divide. Short hike to great views. Access to hiking, fishing and camping. Historic area. Wildlife.

Rollin's Pass Road is a dirt road that follows an old railroad route from the historic town of Tolland, over the Continental Divide, and into Fraser. The road no longer allows you to drive over the summit, due to a partial tunnel collapse, but the road still takes you to within a short hike of the summit, which offers panoramic views of both sides of the Continental Divide.

From the east side, the road climbs 12.5 miles while gaining about 2,000 feet of elevation. The road hugs the hillside through thick forest, passing by streams and a couple lakes that serve as the headwaters for the South Boulder Creek. Towards the top, the road snakes around Yankee Doodle Lake and Jenny Lake, which are both easily accessible for fishing, and quite picturesque. The road ends at the Needle's Eye Tunnel, but various hiking paths allow you to continue on foot. The pass is full of history and provides excellent views of the Front Range, the Fraser Valley, nearby James Peak (13,294) and the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area.

This drive changes immensely from the early summer to late fall. There can be impassible snow drifts through July, especially above Yankee Doodle Lake. For most of the summer, you can enjoy a waterfall flowing down the steep slope from Jenny to Yankee Doodle Lake. Making the drive in mid-to late-September can offer some of the best leaf-changing scenery within a couple hours of Denver. Keep an eye out for wildlife along the way.

From Highway 119 at Rollinsville, take Tolland Road for 7.3 miles toward the Moffat Tunnel. This is a dirt road but very well kept. Look for a turn-off to your right with a sign for Rollin's Pass. If you come to the parking area near Moffat Tunnel, you've gone about a half mile too far. Rollin's Pass Road is moderately bumpy but does not have any major obstacles. It is always wide enough to pass oncoming cars, and can be done in a higher-clearance car or SUV. Four wheel drive is recommended but not necessary.

Pack List

  • SUV or high clearance vehicle
  • Camping gear
  • Fishing gear
  • Camera
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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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Graham Silver

Based in Colorado and focused on exploring and fly fishing the Rocky Mountains. Through hiking, four-wheeling and aviation, I love finding untouched, remote lakes, streams and awesome scenery.

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