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Hiking & Walking: Colorado > White River National Forest > Aspen Ranger District

Quick Facts

Montezuma Basin Four-Wheel Drive Road

Beginning Elevation: 9,728 Feet (3032.4 Meters)
Difficulty: Difficult
Elevation Gain: 2,872 Feet (895.3 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 12,600 Feet (3927.7 Meters)
Length: 6 Miles (10.0 Kilometers) one way
Recommended Season: Summer to Fall
Road Number: 102
Usage: Moderate
USGS Maps: Hayden Peak, Pearl Pass




Satellite and Topo Map




General Description

Castle lake is located close to the base of the summit trail to Castle peak.  It is covered with ice and snow throughout the year.
Copyright: Marshall Hall
Castle lake is located close to the base of the summit trail to Castle peak. It is covered with ice and snow throughout the year.
There is often snow on the road well into July. The lower section of the road receives heavy use, especially on the weekends. This road is very rugged, and in some sections is located in a stream. It climbs well above the timberline and continues for a mile or so, through fields of rocks tinted with a lichen of various colors. This road was built to serve the Montezuma Mine and debris from the operation of the mine may be seen along the way.

The first 1/2 mile is fairly level, then begins to climb. There are some steep uphill sections and at the 1 1/2 mile mark there is a foot bridge. At the bridge you will need to cross the stream. The road continues to climb through spruce groves crossing a vehicle bridge and immediately becoming steeper and more rugged. Three miles up the road, the Mace cabin is passed on the right. Shortly thereafter, a number of parking areas are available and often used by climbers as the road becomes significantly more difficult past this point. The road crosses a stream with a waterfall on the uphill side. The next switchback is extremely difficult and numerous vehicles have been high- centering on it's rocks. A quarter mile past the cabin the road to Pearl Pass forks steeply to the left. Keeping right, the road soon climbs some steep, continuous switchbacks. The road is very narrow and rugged in some areas. The switchback right below the mine requires one to back up towards empty air in order to get around it and should only be attempted by expert drivers. The road ends at the parking area for Castle Peak. Right before the parking area is a very narrow and tilted section of road that is not for the faint of heart or for the inexperienced driver.

Directions from Aspen: Travel west from Aspen 1/2 mile on Highway 82 At the roundabout, turn onto Castle Creek Road. Travel 13.5 miles on Castle Creek Road (2 miles past Ashcroft) to the intersection with the 4WD Pearl Pass Road #102. There is a small parking area at the junction.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Accessible: July through September (NOTE: Snow may obstruct the road at high elevations.) .



Current Conditions & Trip Reports
Winter Conditions. Beware of avalanche conditions and hypothermia. Updated: 2002-12-23 14:45:00.0


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Difficulty: Moderate
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Neutral
Report: Got some turns in on Montezuma Basin. There was about 7-8 inches of new snow. Didn't have chains so I couldn't drive up all the way. Avy danger still relatively low although there were some point releases up top just under Castle Peak

Difficulty: Moderate
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Not Recommended
Report: 300 feet or so before you reach the parking lot there is a bump from the dirts that has slid and collected on the road. Going over this is sketchy because if the driver looks out his/her window, they can the 100 or so foot drop to the bottom of the ravine with their car leaning that way. Did this in October and skied some of the nicest powder of the season.

Difficulty: Easy
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Neutral
Report: Road is open to the last switchback. The stream crossing has really washed out this year so keep to the uphill side. Columbine are in incredible profusion just beyond the stream crossing. The road has been improved in recent years up to the Pearl Pass turnoff so it is not the feat it once was.



Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Backcountry Traveling Montezuma Basin Road passes through areas of high avalanche risk.
Yes
ICON Four-Wheel Driving Montezuma Basin Four-Wheel Drive Road
Yes
ICON Hiking & Walking Hiking is a good alternative to driving on this steep and treacherous mountain road. Access to Castle Peak fourteener.
Yes
ICON Horseback Riding Montezuma Basin Road
Yes
ICON Mountain Biking Montezuma Basin Road
Yes
ICON Motorcycle Riding Montezuma Basin Road
Yes
ICON Snowmobiling Montezuma Basin Road passes through areas of high avalanche risk.
Yes
ICON Snowshoeing Montezuma Basin Road passes through areas of high avalanche risk.
Yes



Related Activities
Castle Creek Road - This drive is one of the most enjoyable drives in the Aspen area. The paved road follows Castle Creek 13 miles up the valley.

Castle Peak - Castle Peak, at 14,265 feet, is the highest peak in the Elk Range. It is located 12 miles south of Aspen at the end of the Castle Creek Valley



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