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Reopen Corona Pass? Officials are discussing the possibility of reopening the 32-mile road across Corona Pass (also called Rollins Pass) between Winter Park and Rollinsville. The road follows the old route used by trains before the Moffet Tunnel was built and could attract additional tourism to Winter Park. Grand, Gilpin, and Boulder counties, and two Forest Service districts are involved, plus the road is close to two wilderness areas. Costs could be excessive and liability would be high: the Needle’s Eye Tunnel, which has collapsed twice, would need to be repaired.
The 32-mile road that passes through three counties, two U.S. Forest Service districts and federally protected wilderness land can be accessed on either side of the Continental Divide, but users haven’t been able to continue the route to the other side since 1990. The Needles Eye Tunnel in Boulder County was closed off at that time from a rockfall, which caused a Denver man to lose his foot. Boulder County became liable for the injury at a cost of around $85,000.
Once dubbed the “Hill Route,” the pass served as a temporary railway line from 1904 to 1928. When the Moffat Tunnel was completed, the original Hill Route was abandoned until 1955 when it became an automobile route on the rail bed. The route served as a tourist attraction until a rockfall occurred in 1979 near the north portal of the Needle’s Eye Tunnel. Upon repairs, it reopened in 1987, but collapsed again in 1990.
The proponents on both sides of the pass who would like to see it open again cite the road’s scenic vistas, its capability of attracting tourism to Rollinsville and Winter Park, as well as its glimpse into Colorado’s railroad history.
Here are some photos pf Corona/Rollins Pass and the trek sounds and looks just amazing.