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Stunner Pass

This wide dirt road near the New Mexican border connects the valley of the Conejos River with Alamosa Canyon. Even though this pass reaches 10500ft, the area is relatively gentle and heavily forested. Amidst this isolation sits the settlement Platoro, seriving your fishing needs at Platoro reservoir.

1.(mile00,8660ft)START-END SOUTH: jct Co17 - FR250 to Stunner Pass
2.(mile22.9,9860ft)turnoff to Platoro on left
3.(mile25.6,10541ft)TOP: Stunner Pass
4.(mile29.0,9790ft)profile turns right onto FR250, Alamosa River Rd
5.(mile45.5,8600ft)START-END NORTH: west end of Terrace Reservoir


From South.
Co17 heading west from Antonito forks when in gets into the Eastern San Juan Mountains. At the fork Co 17 leaves the Conejos River to climb to La Manga Pass with a few switchbacks. The road to Stunner Pass just keeps on following the Conejos River upstream.

The wide dirt road passes several campgrounds. Sometimes it is on a bank above the river in this wide valley, sometimes the road is directly adjacent to the river. Closeby peaks are in the 11 to 12000 foot range, and I can't quite decide if I want to call them peaks or plateaus.

After travelling so far away from a town of any appreciable size, Platoro comes as surprise, because its is appreciable: size: a cafe, dozens of cabins and signs advertising fishing tackle for sale, amongst other things. Now there is even a road sign at the Platoro turnoff. Facing traffic coming form there, it anounces a distance for Antonito: 40 some miles, and Alamosa 50some miles (the "some" actually is a number, but I forgot to make a note of it)  Platoro sits at the foot of the fianal approach to the top: a couple of gentle switchbacks that make Paltoro appear more like a community of roofs than of cabins.  Behind Platoro Reservoir Klondike Mountain (11561) is the biggest thing around. There is a pass sign on top.

From North. (described downwards) On this side the road leaves behind its industrial strength width. A few rocky peaks poke through the foliage. Before the final part of the descend into Alamosa Canyon ( I would call it Alamosa Valley instead ), two signs at a pullout illustriate the reason, that this route was built into a wagon road. Below lies the site of the town Stunner. One lone cabin stands there in its representation. Behind it a colorful cliff that must have sent arriving miners into ecstacy. These colors are the result of heavy minerals, maybe gold and silver. This is also a good vantage point to see the routes up Blowout Pass and the FR350 Prospect Mountain summit. The profile continues down the Alamosa Canyon to where it exits the Eastern San Juans.

Dayride with this point as the highest summit:


( < FR330 Greyback Mtn s(u) | FR611 Alder Creek - FR630 Aqua Ramon Rd(sh) > )
Stunner Pass , FR260 Silver Lakes s(u) , additional out and back : Terrace Reservoir > FR250 west > FR260 south > FR260 Silver Lakes s(u) > jct with FR250 on Conejos River <> out and back down FR250 to turnaround point at 5.4miles, one way distance >> up FR250 > Stunner Pass > down FR250 in Alamosa Canyon > Jasper > back to starting point: 51.0miles with 4050ft of climbing in 5:35hrs (VDO MC1.0 m5:14.9.30)
Notes: cold day after the first freeze in the San Luis Valley with the Aspen leaves at their yellowest.

A day on a tour with this point as intermediate summit is on page: Elwood Pass

Historical Notes:

The Gold Rush Period: The road was constructed in 1878 to connect Fort Garland in the San Luis Valley with Fort Lewis near today's Pagosa Springs. Today's paved roads detour either to the south or the north for this purpose. To the the north Wolf Creek Pass is about 800ft higher. To the south you can go from Antonito over Cumbres and La Manga Passes, both within a few hundred feet of elevation, to cross from the San Lewis Valley to the Navajo River. But actually - choosing the Stunner Pass route reaches the Cumbres - La Manga route before crossing the passes, and so you actually have to cross three 10 thousand foot passes. But the descends between these passes are almost non existent. The entire route really stays on the rounded hills of a high plateau. The profile above turns back east into the San Luis Valley instead.

on the south side the road follows the shallow high valley of the Conejos River

Already a year after the road was built (1879) prospectors used the military road to explore the area. When coming up the Alamosa River from the San Lewis Valley, they would cross the Alamosa River nine times to reach the town Stunner. The small town grew to a size of 150 people, and the inhabitants managed to dig up enough ground for 219 mines. Very few of these produced substantial ore and by 1916, all that was left were the mine tailings. These remain today, along with a few old rotten pieces of wood and several touristic signs point out this old mining camp, located on the north side of the pass, where the routes to Blowout Pass and Stunner Pass diverge.

Modern Highways: In 1911 the road was planned to be the major highway over the continental divide in this area. After a flood in 1913 killed many people in the area, the decision was made to make Wolf Creek Pass into a major highway instead.

the first snow of the year has fallen in the canyon of the Alamosa River

Stunner Pass
Highest Point: 10541ft
Southern Approach:
climb over distance
jct Co17 - FR250 (8660ft)
1881ft 25+1/2miles
Platoro turnoff (9860ft)
Northern  Approach:
west end of Terrace Reservoir (8600ft)
1941 19miles