Loveland Pass – Drive Across the Continental Divide in Colorado

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Take a detour from the busy I-70 interstate and take the scenic route over Loveland Pass. About 1 hour east of Denver on I-70 you will drive through a tunnel which was bored through the massive rock formations of the Rocky Mountains. But instead of the tunnel take US-6 over Loveland Pass. It is a beautiful drive during summer and winter. The roads are usually in good condition year-round but it can get difficult in the wintertime. During winter I-70 even gets shut down periodically as the crews can’t keep up with the snow masses.

Truck drivers with hazardous cargo have to take this route either way, as they are not allowed through the tunnel. This can lead to some slowdowns on the road as you have to follow a truck up or down the mountain pass on the single-lane road.

I recommend you to take the bypass instead of the tunnel if you have some time to spare. You won’t regret it. The tunnel is boring (literally) as there is no way to stop there (legally) and take pictures or tour the tunnel on foot.

How to get to Loveland Pass

Eastbound traffic on I-70

Take Exit 205 in Silverthorne/Dillion and follow signs for US-6 towards Keystone. From there just follow the road and stay on US-6.

Westbound traffic on I-70

Take Exit 216 just before the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel and follow signs towards Keystone.

East Side of the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel
Highlights of the Scenic Route

US-6 will bring you through a couple of Ski-areas. It’s a beautiful scenery during the winter season. There will be even snow until late April/June.

Arapahoe Basin Ski Area

As you follow the road you will climb up to the summit of Loveland Pass which is at 11,990 ft above sea level. The summit has some parking areas and you can stop enjoy the view and take pictures. Many of the trails are loaded with snow during the winter season which makes them very hard to access. People come up here with their ski equipment for a downhill run. They usually get shuttled up in a van and you can watch them heading down.

Be aware of the parking rules along US-6. Especially at the portion east of the summit. You can only park in areas with signs allowing you to park. There are many turnouts but you can’t park there. During the winter seasons, these areas are used to store snow. Be aware of the avalanche control during the winter season. This is especially dangerous if you are a backcountry user and hike around. Avalanche blasting is done with longe range weaponry.

Loveland Pass, Colorado
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Travel time on this road is about 30 minutes if you drive straight through without stopping, which you actually should do to maximize this detour. Did you know that there is a lake up there? Pass Lake is on your right-hand side after a half-mile past the summit when traveling westbound on US-6. Again, accessibility during the winter season is very limited but it’s a beautiful place during the rest of the year when you can access the whole lake area.

In case you need to rest and are looking for a hotel, I can highly recommend the Hyatt Place Keystone. It’s a great location during summer and winter.

And if you have even more time to spare, you definitely have to drive up to the top of Mount Evans. The highest paved road in North America. The views from 14,000 feet above sea-level are just stunning.

Have you taken Loveland Pass? What was your experience?


See more pictures from this beautiful mountain pass.

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