The eastern San Juan Mountains do
not reveal their size and splendor until you get
into them. From US160 between Del Norte and South
Fork they appear more like a shapeless forest in
the distance, topped by a few high rock outcrops.
Once you get into them their size becomes
apparent. Blowout Pass is a remote pass in this
click on profile for more detail
NORTH: jct US160 - FR14, just west of Del
2.(9830ft,mile14) START-END NORTH
ALTERNATE: Elk Park, jct with Shady Creek
Trail on right
3.(10900ft,mile17) profile stays left on
4.(11040ft,mile29) Burro Creek jeep road
joins from left
5.(10980ft,mile29) Bennet Creek Trail
joins from left. Road. Take right uphill
6.(11780ft,mile31) TOP: Blowout
Pass, also jct with TR700
7.(9170ft,mile34) START-END SOUTH
ALTERNATE: route goes left down FR250
towards Jasper at this T
8.(8500ft,mile47) below spillway of
9.(8320ft,mile49) START-END SOUTH: FR250
crosses Alamosa river easth of Terrace
From South. The profile shows the most
obvious way to approach Blowout Pass, FR14 (Pinos
Creek Rd) leaving from US160 just west of Del
Norte. But there are many other options. The road
is initially paved and becomes heavily graveled
(as of June/10), before it crosses into the Rio
Grande National Forest.
Initially the Pinos Creek Road does follow Pinos
Creek. But it soon climbs the ridge to the east.
It stays in heavy aspen forest, periodically
opening views onto Del Norte Peak and the
mountains ahead. Grayback Mountain can be
identified by the small transmission tower on top.
When turning left onto FR329 a long contour around
the hills finally leads to the start of the steep
pass road. Burro Creek Road joins here. This is a
more direct but less used road, and the map would
suggest probably a better cycling approach. (I
have not tried this yet) The road switches back
over rough terrain and gains the pass at just
above treeline. The view on the other side is
worth every effort to climb it.
From North. (also described upwards) From
just north of La Jara Co371 heads west. It turns
into a dirt road that follows some of the northern
most headwaters of the Rio Grande River up Alamosa
Creek. Gradually the road actually starts to climb
into a plateau that can hardly be recognized as
such, from the distance.
The profile starts at Terrace Reservoir, where
the climbing becomes noticeable. Rolling terrain
through a mixture of pleasant forested canyon and
private ranches, also a nice free campground,
leads to the collection of houses in the woods,
named Jasper. Apparently this community has its
roots as a mining town, but today it looks more
like a collection of modern vacation houses with a
special affinity for solar power.
Bennett Peak (13203ft) from about 500ft below
summit on south side
The turnoff up Blowout Pass is marked with a very
small sign. In spite of this the road made me
wonder if I just was riding up some small communal
driveway in the woods. But sure enough - it
continued. The road climbs very steeply on a rough
rocky surface in the woods. I walked much of it.
This way I had enough energy left to at least ride
part of the last two miles, much of which have a
smoother surface, and are also not quite as steep.
That was my impression, but the elevation profile
seems to average it out.
Finally the last few hundred feet of the climb
are above treeline. A trail up to the right to the
top of Bennett Peak (13203ft) looks like it would
give a very far reaching view. The most scenic way
to continue from here on a bicycle would be the TR700 Dry
Creek summit. But instead the profile makes
Blowout Pass the highest point and descends from
A Day on a tour
PARTIALLY PAVED / UNPAVED
(<Stunner Pass|Carnero Pass>) La
Jara > Co371 west > up FR250 along Alamosa
river > Blowout Pass > down FR330 > down
FR12 > Del Norte: 70 miles. (mech Odo:
Notes: the previous day had no passes: Platoro
> La Jara. Previous day to that: Pagosa
Springs > Elwood Pass > Stunner Pass >
Platoro. Next day: Del Norte > Carnero Pass
> Saguache. Co371 was unpaved at the time.
A Dayride with this point as intermediate
summit is on page: FR330
Greyback Mtn s(u)
Today Blowout Pass seems like the absolutely most
cumbersome way to get from Summitville to del
Norte. Yet - in the late 1800s, the road was used
to move ore from the mining center to del Norte.
Later it was even used for freighting.