Opened in 1882 and officially closed in 1910, the Alpine Tunnel near Pitkin, Colorado is both the highest railroad tunnel in North America and the longest narrow-gauge tunnel in North America. It’s 1,772 feet long and located at 11,523 feet above sea-level.

The Alpine Tunnel is found 500 feet beneath Altman Pass, which was later remained “Alpine Pass” for consistency purposes. This pass is located east of Pitkin, Colorado, with the tunnel spanning Chaffee and Gunnison counties.

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Alpine Tunnel 2 A.L. Szalanski (Wikimedia Commons)
The telegraph station at the Alpine Tunnel. Photo Credit: A.L. Szalanski (Wikimedia Commons).

Since it’s closure, the tunnel has since been sealed by a collapse on the east portal and a landslide on the west portal. However, the trackbed has been left behind and remains a popular destination for hikers and off-road vehicle enthusiasts. If you’re planning to hike, approach from the east side. If you’re looking to off-road, you’ll find a rough road on the west side of the tunnel that will take you to a restored train station. ***Editor’s Note: Since publishing, we’ve gotten reports that the west side is now closed to vehicle traffic due to damage from an avalanche causing a road collapse.***

East Portal Alpine Tunnel Tim Dennehey (Wikimedia Commons)
The east portal of the Alpine Tunnel, since sealed by a collapse. Photo Credit: East Portal Alpine Tunnel Tim Dennehey (Wikimedia Commons).
West Portal Alpine Tunnel Tim Dennehey (Wikimedia Commons)
The west portal of the Alpine Tunnel, since sealed by landslides. Photo Credit: Tim Dennehey (Wikimedia Commons).

Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1996, volunteers work to restore this high-altitude attraction one or more times per year. While all that really remains is a station platform, a turntable, and a short stretch of track, visiting this destination is also worth it for the experience of getting there and for the views you’ll see along the way.

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