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An aerial image showing the area where off-road groups have proposed a through-route between Rollinsville and Winter Park over the Continental Divide. Photo Mark Woodworth

Efforts have reemerged to reopen a formerly famous route crossing the Continental Divide in Colorado.

Off-roading groups recently submitted a letter to the U.S. Forest Service requesting access to a rugged track that has been off-limits for several decades. By reopening a stretch of the Boulder Wagon Road — a toll road in the 1890s — motorists could travel between Rollinsville and Winter Park over Corona Pass and enjoy "what was once one of the most popular scenic auto tours in Colorado," according to the letter.

It was sent by Colorado Offroad Trail Defenders, Mile-Hi Jeep Club and Rollins Pass Restoration Association. Their interest has been shared since 1990, when rockfalls closed Needle's Eye Tunnel and cut off a continuous route over Corona Pass, also known as Rollins Pass.

The groups have proposed bypassing the tunnel near 11,600 feet and reopening the old wagon road that has in modern times been limited to authorized vehicles only. Advocates have mapped a 1.63-mile stretch that they say would achieve "a new through-route across the Continental Divide" and "help disperse recreationists across the landscape."

While Grand County commissioners voiced support  this month, counterparts in Boulder and Gilpin counties have historically dissented on such a proposal, as Sky-Hi News recently detailed.

Concerns of road damage that rose in the 1970s continue to linger. And there have been heated disagreements over the potential for motorists to roam where they are not allowed in adjacent Indian Peaks and James Peak wilderness areas.

In their letter to the Forest Service, the stewarding groups offered to "adopt" the road and "perform all necessary maintenance" and tasks to prevent incursions into wilderness.


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