Shrine Pass is a slow, scenic, road-less-traveled alternative to I-70 over Vail Pass, considerably better for birding. As the unpaved road rises out of the village of Red Cliff, it follows a beautiful stream with lots of willow up a tight valley through aspens and mixed conifers. Along this stretch look for species such as Swainson’s Thrush, MacGillivray’s Warbler, and American Dipper. The road then runs through several miles of truly excellent spruce-fir forest before the pass; birds like Pine Grosbeak, Gray Jay, American Three-toed Woodpecker, and Golden-crowned Kinglet could be found. The views of Mount Holy Cross from the pass are among the best in the state.
Habitat: Stream, Streamside Willow, Aspen Grove, Mixed-Conifer Forest, Spruce-Fir Forest
Directions: From the Minturn/Leadville exit off I-70 (exit 171), head south on US 24 just over ten miles to a left turn just before a dramatic bridge over a deep canyon. This left turn will take you down to the town of Red Cliff. In this town it is easy to pick up the Shrine Pass Road (FR 709).
Delorme: 37 D7, 38 D1
Roads of Colorado: 70 B3
Dates of Access: Closed during the winter months
Ownership: US Forest Service
Lodging: Primitive camping
Handicapped Access: Limited car birding