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North Cochetopa Pass 

On first look North Cochetopa Pass is on the long, pleasant, somewhat empty, less than spectacular Continental Divide road crossing between Saguache and Gunnison. Much of the road has no shoulder, and this is really of little consequence, that's how little traffic there is. The pass is a newer highway version, north of the historic Cochetopa Pass, which crosses five miles to the south. The "North Cochetopa" is shortened on many maps to "North Pass". This can be confusing. Famous "South Pass" in Wyoming, is  hundreds of miles north of "North Pass".



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1.(7720ft,mile00) START-END EAST: Saguache
2.(8450ft,mile22) START-END ALTERNATE EAST: turnoff to Rabbit Canyon and Cochetopa Pass is on left.
3.(10149,mile31) TOP: North Cochetopa Pass
4.(9230ft,mile36) turnoff to Saguache Park is on left
5.(8810ft,mile44) START-END WEST: junction with Cochetopa Pass road is on left. Road enters Cochetopa Canyon
6.(7830ft.mile62) START-END ALTERNATE WEST: junction with US50

Approaches

From East. Co114 leaves Saguache following the valley of Saguache Creek. The distant wall of the Sangre de Cristo mountains slowly disappears behind hills featuring gray lava cliffs, tilted in all imaginable directions. The almost imperceptible climb becomes real at the junction where the old Cochetopa Pass branches off. The hills leading up to the continental divide are like a gentle roof covered with a rumpled blanket. The eyes sweep to the horizon across a dissected, slanted plain, picking up discrete, widely spaced trees along the way, finally latching on to a rounded mountain above treeline. The top of the pass is forested. But the Sangre de Cristos can be spotted from several locations on the approach.


From West. (also described upwards) The profile starts with the shallow approach through Cochetopa Canyon. The deepest and most scenic part of the canyon directly joins to the lower end of this approach. The North Cochetopa biker gets a short version of the high La Garita Mountain views before Cochetopa Creek takes off towards Cochetopa Pass for the long version.

After that the road gently rolls over hills, the occasional herd of cows making up the most lively highpoint of the journey. Just when you think that this must be the gentlest continental divide approach in the state after Muddy Pass, a sign advertises the summit two miles away, and a short climbing workout is in order after all. The Colorado Trail and the Continental Divide Trail cross the road about a mile west of the top.

Dayride with this pass as highest summit:

PARTIALLY PAVED / UNPAVED

North Cochetopa Pass, Cochetopa Pass: campsite a few miles west of Saguache > Co119 west > Cochetopa Pass > jct Co119 - Co125 << back on Co119 > North Cochetopa Pass > Co119 east: back to starting point:  84 miles with 3250 feet of climbing in 6.3 hours.

same summit points : campsite on BLM road west of Saguache > Co114 west > FR740 west > Cochetopa Pass <> NN-14 west > Co114 east > Cochetopa Pass > starting point: 84.5miles with 4360ft of climbing in 6:32hrs (m3: 5.7.12)

Three Day Road Tour with car shuttle. Cochetopa Pass has been part of a DBTC labor day weekend tour. The three stages were: Day 1: Saguache, North Cochetopa Pass, Gunnison; day 2: Gunnison, Lake City. day 3: Lake City, Slumgullion and Spring Creek Passes, Creede. There was a car shuttle between Creede and and Saguache. The mileages measured 74, 59 and 53 miles with a mechanical odometer. (m1:87.09.5).


 

History. Much of what is described as the early  history on the Cochetopa Pass page could have happened on today's North Cochetopa Pass or a drainage close by.  The Hayden Survey mapped this pass in 1877. By the time regular stage coaches were crossing Cochetopa Pass, a charter was issued to also construct a wagon road over this pass. By 1916 a highway existed over the top.. But it took until 1962 for the road to be paved.



North Cochetopa Pass (Summary)

Elevation/Highest Point: 10149ft~3093m

Eastern Approach: paved
climb
distance
drop
from Saguache (7720ft~2353m)
2429ft~740m
31+1/2miles~50.7km
~200ft
from junction with Cochetopa Pass route (8450ft~2576m)
1699ft~518m
9+1/2miles~15.3km
~100ft
Western Approach: paved



from junction with US50 (7830ft~2387m)
2319ft~707m
31 miles~49.9km

from junction with Cochetopa Pass route (8810ft~2685m)
1339ft~408m
12+1/2miles~20.1km

 




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