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2016 Summer Mountain Trip Part 29; US Route 6 over Loveland Pass

Upon leaving Leadville I took a turn on Colorado State Route 91 towards Fremont Pass and the Climax Mine.  From the terminus of CO 91 I took Interstate 70/US Route 6 east to Dillon to spend the night.  The next morning my planned route back to Denver included crossing Loveland Pass via US 6.


This article serves as the 29th entry in the 2016 Summer Mountain Part Trip.  Part 28 covers the history of US Route 24 through the Town of Leadville.

2016 Summer Mountain Trip Part 28; US Route 24 through Leadville

Loveland Pass crests the Continental Divide of the Colorado Rockies Front Range at an elevation of 11,990 feet above sea level.  Loveland Pass is one of the oldest transportation corridors through the Rockies.  Loveland Pass traces it's origins back to a wagon road constructed through Clear Creek Canyon by William A.H. Loveland in 1863-1864.  The Loveland wagon road up Clear Creek Canyon to Loveland Pass was built to take advantage of the numerous mining stamp mills that popped up during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush.

During the Auto Trail era in Colorado the road over Loveland Pass appeared not to be a major corridor of travel.  No signed highways appear over Loveland Pass on the 1924 Rand McNally Regional Highway Map.  The Midland-Roosevlt Midland Trail is shown to climb out of Clear Creek Canyon via Berthoud Pass (future US 40) via Empire.


Loveland Pass appears on the route of CO 91 on the 1927 Rand McNally Highway Map of Colorado.  CO 91 in it's original form began at US 40S in Leadville.  CO 91 from Leadville headed northeast via Fremont Pass and Loveland Pass to US 40/CO 2 in Empire. 


During 1936 the Loveland Ski Area opened operations and brought additional tourism to Loveland Pass.  By 1937 US 6 was extended from Greeley, CO to Long Beach, CA according to USends.  US 6 absorbed the entire route of CO 91 over Loveland Pass and Fremont Pass which can be seen on the 1939 State Farm Insurance Map of Colorado.  By 1940 US 6 would be rerouted from Fremont Pass to Vail Pass but Loveland Pass would remain as part of the highway.


During March 1973 Loveland Pass was bypassed by I-70 by way of the Eisenhower Tunnel.  Notably hazardous cargo and trucks over 13 feet, 11 inches cannot enter the Eisenhower Tunnel.  Given the heavy truck restrictions through the Eisenhower Tunnel US 6 over Loveland Pass has remained an important trucking corridor despite it's heavy 6.7% grades.

Upon my arrival to Loveland Pass on eastbound US 6 I was greeted with a Department of Agriculture sign announcing the height of the pass along the Continental Divide.  Notably US 6 over Loveland Pass is the second highest US Route only behind US 34 on the Trail Ridge Road.


A look southwest from Loveland Pass towards the Arapahoe Basin Ski Area.


A progressive look northeast from Loveland Pass into Clear Creek Canyon.  The heavy road grades of US 6 become immediately apparent.





A panoramic view of Loveland Pass.


Upon reaching I-70 I stayed eastbound through Clear Creek Canyon towards Denver.  I would make several additional stops in Clear Canyon on my way to the Denver Area.

2016 Summer Mountain Trip Part 30; former US Route 6 and Colorado State 91 in Silver Plume


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