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Copper Gulch Divide

This is a fairly obscure, but regularly traveled low crossing on the De Weese Plateau, east of the Wet Mountain Valley. It is listed in the book "Passes of Colorado". For those who are not put off by the occasional dusty stretch of dirt road, this is a great viewing platform onto the Sangre de Cristo Range, especially during "interesting cloud days". The portion over the top is paved. But to make a loop you have to negotiate a variety of surfaces.

1.(mile00.0,6190ft) START-END NORTH1: jctUS50 - Co69 on Arkansas River
2.(mile05.0,6880ft)profile turns left on Gulch Rd
3.(mile11.7,7600ft)jct with Copper Gulch Rd, profile turns right
4.(mile13.6,7927ft)TOP: Copper Gulch Divide
5.(mile24.9,7860ft)profile turns north on Co69, north of Westcliffe
6.(mile38.8,6880ft)START-END NORTH2: Co69: jct with Gulch Rd, same as point 2


From North.
Two approaches originating in the Arkansas River Canyon meet near the top. The more westerly one is described and profiled.

The profile starts where Co69 leaves the Arkansas in Texas Creek. About 2 miles before reaching the junction with CR1-A, a signed turnoff goes east up Road Gulch or Gulch Road, depending on which sign you believe. Looking back there are barely if any interesting views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The road is just too much in the gulch, so to speak. Instead some of the adjoining housing are more interesting to look at: trailers and campers connected by wood shacks to enlarge the total livable space, not far from more conventional retirement housing.

Soon the road reaches a more typical isolated settlement, with the suburban sounding name "Blazing Saddles" Lane. The ruler straight road directs the view to a group of houses, picturesquely located on the sweeping view to a large part of the Sangre de Cristo Range.

There are only low rounded hills nearby. But the top is near. A T junction meets the other approach, coming up from Sunset City. Now a smoothly paved road with barely any traffic climbs past an amazingly gaudy Deer Mountain Community Center, complete with giant carved parodies of colorfully painted cowboys and a host of other advertising gizmos, up to the summit. No sign here, but the view of the "Sangres" (pardon the bastardized Spanish, but this is what people call them here) will leave no doubt about its location.

From South. (described downwards) The viewing platform of this rolling descend is by far the most interesting part of the ride, during days when spectacular cloud displays complement the linear beauty of the mountain range. When it's hazy, the views may be disappointing. On the map the road heads straight as an arrow for Westclliff. But in reality it is not so straight in an up and down sense - more like a series of waves. The most direct way back down to Co69 is via Reed Gulch CR29 and CR203. But that option actually goes over a slightly higher point. The turnoff to this option is the low point between points 4 and 5 at 7605ft.

Instead the profile stays on the viewing platform with its variety of dust-, meddled road-, and "currently being improved" surfaces. When you see the first political billboards on ranch land, Westcliff is near. And apparently this is also the first rancher with political connections, because now the surface is paved. The point in the valley on nearby Co69 south of Westcliffe is only about 20ft lower than the Copper Gulch Divide. It seems lower because the Wet Mountain Valley also rises towards the south and Westcliffe. In order to get more elevation gain on this side, the profile turns back north and descends the valley.

Rides with this point as highest summit:


Copper Gulch Divide , CR255 Oak Grade Rd (s(u)-sh?) , CR3 Temple Canyon Rd s(u)? : just west of Sunset City > CR26 south > Copper Gulch Divide > CR215 Copper Gulch Rd south > Co69 south > Westcliffe > Co96 east > Silvercliffe > CR255 Oak Grade Rd north > CR255 Oak Grade Rd s(u)? > Canyon City possibly with detour > CR3 Temple Canyon rd east > CR3 Temple Canyon Rd s(u)? > CR29 Copper Gulch Rd west back to starting point: (m2:98.10.4)

A Ride with this point as intermediate summit is on pages:  CR170 the Pines Ranch(sh)


Copper Gulch Divide
Highest Point: 7927ft
North-1 Approach:
climb over distance
jctUS50 - Co69 on Arkansas River, via Copper Gulch Rd (6190ft)
1737ft 13+1/2miles
North-2  Approach:

Co69: jct with Gulch Rd  (6880ft)
1057 25iles