The Spirit of the Rockies
Hike Profiles for Rocky Mountain National Park and Surrounding Areas
Thunder Pass
Thunder Pass is a remote pass
on the continental divide at the
north end of the Never Summer
Range. The pass affords
commanding views of the
surrounding peaks. The
Colorado River Trail leads
past Shipler Park and the site
of Lulu City on a very
moderate grade before climbing
steeply to Thunder Pass.
Distance: 6.9 miles one-way

Pass elevation: 11,331 feet

Trailhead elevation: 9,000 feet

Net elevation gain: 2,331 feet

Colorado River Trailhead

Rocky Mountain National Park
Thunder Pass in late May
Major Trail Landmarks
Shipler Park (2.3 miles one-way from trailhead)
Lulu City Site (3.7 miles one-way from trailhead)
Principal Destinations Near Thunder Pass
La Poudre Pass (7.4 miles one-way from trailhead) - via La Poudre Pass Trail
Michigan Lakes (7.5 miles one-way from trailhead) - via Michigan Lakes Trail past Thunder Pass
Backcountry Campsites Near Thunder Pass
Stage Road (4.2 miles one-way from trailhead) - 1 individual site
Ditch Camp (4.6 miles one-way from trailhead) - 2 individual sites and 1 group site
Box Canyon (5.5 miles one-way from trailhead) - 2 individual sites
The Colorado River Trailhead is on the west side of the Continental Divide between Grand Lake and Milner
Pass. Follow Highway 34 (Trail Ridge Road) either 10 miles north of the Kawuneeche Visitor Center
or 7 miles south of Milner Pass. The large trailhead parking area is on the west side of the highway.

From the trailhead, follow the trail as it heads along a very moderate grade past the former sites of Shipler Cabins and Lulu City. After crossing the Colorado River, the trail climbs steeply to the Ditch Camp area along the Grand Ditch water diversion canal. Cross the ditch on a footbridge just west of the maintenance buildings along the Grand Ditch service road, and continue north along the trail to Thunder Pass. The final approach is rather steep as it winds uphill to the pass, which marks the National Park boundary.
Sample photographs of the hike to Thunder Pass
Thunder Pass in late spring
View of Nokhu Crags from Thunder Pass
View of Static Peak from Thunder Pass
Thunder Pass
Thunder Pass topographic map
Principal summer trail marked by solid red line; unmaintained trail or route marked by dashed red line.
Map is oriented with north to the top of the map
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All photographs are property of Mike Amfahr and are protected by copyright laws.
Topographic map is property of and copyrighted by Maps a la carte, Inc., and is used on this site with permission.