Pearl Pass Road Linking Aspen and Crested Butte, CO Will NOT OPEN this Summer Due to Avalanche Debris

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Credit: Jeremy Wallace/Aspen Times

Pearl Pass Road between Aspen and Crested Butte, CO a popular summer route for four-wheel-drive fanatics, will not be opening this summer due to the tons and tons of avalanche debris that came down during this historic winter.

The main problem lies a little more than a mile up the road from the Pine Creek Cookhouse at the back of the Castle Creek Valley, reports the Aspen Times. At that point, four-wheel-drives, bikers and hikers are stopped dead in their tracks by two avalanche slides — one from each side of the road — that meet on the road in the middle and continue down the valley.

The slide on the valley’s east side is an avalanche path through aspen trees that slides most years, though it was wider this year, and the slide on the west side just below Greg Mace Peak has never been known as an avalanche area.

Crews have spent the past four weeks trying to clear the road of tree trunks, some of which measure 36 inches in diameter from 200-year old 100-foot tall trees, as well as hard-packed snow, ice and other debris. 

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The popular pass links Aspen and Crested Butte

Carl Buckingham, the mayor of Pearl Pass Road, said he’s been helping clear the road for 29 years for other four-wheel-drive fans like him.

“People come from all over the country (to drive the road),” he said. “It’s one of the classic, hardcore Colorado four-wheel-drive trails. It’s well-used.”

While it’s technically a Pitkin County road, county road officials are taking a hands-off approach at this point. It’s unlikely the county will put much if any, effort toward opening the road this summer because it needs to put resources elsewhere, a spokesman said.