The Loveland Pass sign in Colorado

Loveland Pass (Scenic Drive Guide + Key Info)

Driving Loveland Pass is a great way to experience Colorado’s mountains and views! The road also features several awesome hiking trails and more than one of Colorado’s great ski resorts

I’m a Colorado local with insights on Loveland Pass history, seasonal activities, and nearby attractions. In this post I’ll tell you everything you need to know about Loveland Pass.

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. Thank you!

About Loveland Pass

History of Loveland Pass

Loveland Pass and the city of Loveland are both named after the president of the Colorado Central Railroad, William A.H. Loveland.

Loveland wanted a wagon road connecting Denver with the mining town of Leadville, and in 1869, he opened the part of the road that is now Loveland Pass. 

The pass was adopted by the U.S. Highway system in 1919 when it was connected to the town of Silver Plume. It was the main road from Denver to Georgetown until the engineering marvel that is the Eisenhower Tunnel opened in 1973.

The Loveland Pass under the clear blue sky

The treacherous pass has seen many unfortunate events over the years. In 1970, a plane full of members of the Wichita State University football team, plus coaches and supporters, crashed two miles north of the summit. Tragically, the thirty-one people on board were killed. 

In 2013, an avalanche at the pass killed five snowboarders. It was the deadliest avalanche in Colorado since 1962. The pass has also been the site of many vehicle accidents as well. 

Loveland Pass Information & Facts

  • Loveland Pass is along the Continental Divide, about 70 miles east of Denver. It’s the last exit before the Eisenhower Tunnel in either direction on I-70. 
  • Trucks carrying hazardous materials or those that can’t fit through the Eisenhower Tunnel use Loveland Pass as an alternate route. It’s also a scenic route that many people take for the surrounding mountain views.
  • At its very highest, Loveland Pass’ elevation is 11,991 feet above sea level.
  • Loveland Pass has a 6.7% grade that holds steady for much of the drive. 
  • The pass is open year-round. It can be dangerous in winter, and while it doesn’t close for an entire season, it does close during snowstorms. 
  • Loveland Pass is the highest mountain pass in Colorado that does not close for the winter season.

📚 Related Reading: If you’re loving the Loveland Pass trivia, check out these other fun facts about Colorado

Driving Loveland Pass

View while driving to Loveland Pass

Loveland Pass in Summer

Summer is the ideal time to drive Loveland Pass Road! Drivers will want to watch for thunderstorms, especially in the afternoon, and be careful in heavy rain. However, a clear day is a beautiful time to drive the pass. Plan to pull over at overlooks to enjoy views of the Rocky Mountains – especially the overlook at the top of the Continental Divide. 

If you’re driving slowly or are nervous, also use pullouts to stop and allow cars behind you to go ahead before continuing.

Loveland Pass in Winter

Although the pass doesn’t close for the winter season, it does close often for bad weather or accidents. There are also chain restrictions during the winter, and 2WD drivers should carry chains regardless of the weather that day. You can check traction laws, and even sign up for text alerts on road conditions, on the Colorado Dept. of Transportation website

Things to Do Near Loveland Pass

The author with her daughter at the summit of Mt. Sniktau
Summiting Sniktau!

Nearby Ski Resorts

Check out locals’ favorite places to hit the slopes!

View of skiers enjoying in Keystone Ski Resort
Keystone is one of three ski resorts you can get to from Loveland Pass. (photo: Steve Boice / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (855) 603-0049 | Website | Hours: 8:30 am – 4 pm daily, occasional night-skiing | Lift Tickets: $138 & up, adults, $80 & up under 13 | 👉 Book Ski Gear Rentals

Keystone, Loveland, and Arapahoe Basin ski resorts are all near the pass. They’re some of the closest ski resorts to Denver, which makes them some of the most popular among locals as well! 

Keystone also has summer activities, including a bike park and yoga on the mountain. Meanwhile, summer visitors to Arapahoe Basin can experience North America’s highest elevation via ferrata route. 

Mount Sniktau

Get great views on a lung-busting hike up a 13er!

The author's daughter during their hike in Mt. Sniktau
Mt. Sniktau is a good training hike for a 14er.

📍 Google Maps | Website 

Sure, 14er hikes in Colorado get all the glory, but 13ers like Sniktau deserve some love, too! This is actually a great hike if you’re training for a 14er, and you can combine it with a few other hiking trails like Grizzly Peak and Cupid Peak. 

If you do want to climb a 14er, you can hike to Grays and Torreys Peaks from Loveland Pass as well. Regardless, from all of these mountain summits, you’ll be treated to Continental Divide views. 

👉 Pro Tip: The parking lot here can fill up quickly in summer – be sure to arrive early!

Backcountry Skiing

Ski off the beaten path (or the groomed resort path!)

View from the snowy Loveland Pass during winter

📍 Google Maps

Backcountry skiers experience Loveland Pass by bypassing the resorts and doing their own skiing. Some visit as a group, taking turns shuttling each other to the top of the mountain. Others trust their luck and hitchhike. 

If you’re planning to backcountry ski in the area, you need to be able to assess tough weather conditions and know when to ski… and when to try another day. Also, for your safety, avalanche gear is an absolute must. 

Pass Lake

Escape the city heat and picnic with an amazing view!

📍 Google Maps | Website 

On the downhill descent from Loveland Pass, you’ll find Pass Lake just off the west side of the road. If you’re coming from the A-Basin Ski Area, it’s about three miles up the hill. 

There is a parking lot for the Pass Lake Picnic Area, and it’s a great spot to stop. Have a snack or some lunch, then take a stroll around the lake. If you want a little more activity, take the 0.8-mile Loveland Lakes Trail, one of the best hikes near Denver! 

Georgetown Loop Railroad

Travel back in time with a narrow gauge train ride through the Rockies!

The colorful sky over the Georgetown Loop Railroad
(photo: Bob Pool / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (303) 569-2030 | Website | Entrance: $30.95, adults, $24.95 under 16 | 👉 Browse Tours on Viator

Just a short distance from Loveland Pass lies one of the most scenic train rides in Colorado. The steam train winds through the mountains of Georgetown. It features open-air cars in the summer months, plus warmer options for holiday train rides and fall events. 

You can also spend time wandering through Georgetown, one of Colorado’s best mountain towns. Do a little shopping in their quaint boutiques and enjoy the surrounding scenery

Map of Loveland Pass

FAQs About Loveland Pass

View while driving in the way to Loveland Pass

Is Loveland Pass steep?

Loveland Pass is steep and has a 6.7% grade. It is a twisty road with lots of hairpin turns as the road gains and loses elevation. 

Is Loveland Pass paved? 

Loveland Pass is paved from one end to the other. However, even though it is paved, it can still be a treacherous drive, especially in the winter months.

Scenic view from Loveland Pass

Is Loveland Pass a scary drive?

Loveland Pass can be a scary drive. If you’re not used to winding mountain passes with sharp turns, it can be unnerving to drive this pass. Also, when it’s snowing in winter, the pass can be scary to drive at times. Be sure to obey all chain and traction laws, follow the speed limit signs, and pull off when you can to allow faster drivers to pass. 

How long does it take to drive through Loveland Pass?

It takes about one hour to drive through Loveland Pass on a clear day. That time frame allows you to stop at overlooks and enjoy the scenic view. Without stopping, it takes between 30-45 minutes to drive straight through the pass.

What city is Loveland Pass in?

Loveland Pass is in the cities of Montezuma and Dillon. It connects the Loveland Ski Area next to I-70 to Silverthorne. It begins in Clear Creek County and ends in Summit County. 

***

The next time you’re in the area, bypass the Eisenhower Tunnel and rather, take a scenic drive up Loveland Pass. Stop for skiing, hiking, and opportunities to explore the surrounding area. Also, if you’re visiting more of Colorado, be sure to check out our Ultimate Colorado Travel Guide!  

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