La Veta Pass|
Going west out of La Veta, Mt. Mestas on the right
La Veta Pass bridges the Sangre de
Cristo Mountains between the Eastern Plains and the San Luis Valley. This
is the modern route, more properly known as North La Veta Pass, elevation 9,413
ft. US Highway 160 travels through the pass connecting Walsenburg and eastern Colorado with Alamosa, Monte Vista, South Fork, Pagosa
Springs, and Durango.
Travelling west from Walsenburg the highway crosses the broken plateau of western
Huerfano County, passing on the south side of Mt. Mestas and rising along its’ flank to the top of the pass.
The view west at the top of the pass.
That’s the tip of Mt. Lindsey visible in the upper center.
It’s a long climb up the hill but the scenery is excellent. Mt. Mestas (to the north)
is almost entirely BLM land, meaning it’s almost entirely public property. There
are a lot of elk and Bighorn sheep on the mountain but accessing the property for
hunting purposes isn’t easy: there’s only one place where the BLM boundary touches
the US highway right-of-way and that place isn’t marked. Parking in that area isn’t
recommended anyway. Everything to the south is private property, as is most of the
land directly against the highway on the north side. That explains the beautiful
homes and log cabins on the hills above the highway, high enough to get views across
the top of the pass to the Blanca Massif and eastwards across the Spanish Peaks
to the valley of the Arkansas and the Great Plains. Imagine… you don’t have to:
if you drive the pass from west to east you’ll get almost the same eastern view
as they do. And as soon as you reach the summit going west…
Before too long, the top arrives and the western vistas open up. It doesn’t take
too long though and you are down below the surrounding hills and the views close
in again. But while you are in that wide open bowl at the top,
Pass Creek Road heads off to the north and that’s a simply gorgeous drive
through some wild country into the Upper Huerfano Valley. As a shortcut from US
160 at La Veta Pass to State Highway 69 at Gardner, this beautiful drive on good roads is highly recommended.
Looking east at Mt. Mestas from the summit of the pass
Rough Mountain and Mt. Mestas from the turn-off to Pass Creek
Looking east from further down the road
on the west side of the pass
Mt. Lindsey (14,042′) from the bottom of the pass
on the San Luis Valley side