(el. 3048 m./10,000 ft.) is a high mountain pass located in the Rocky Mountains of central Colorado in the
is located in the Front Range southwest
of Denver in northern
County, just northeast of the town of Jefferson. Geologically
The pass sign.
pass is located atop a large granite
(known as the Kenosha Batholith)
that forms the spine of the Front Range along the eastern side of
. It is
traversed by U.S. Highway 285 between Jefferson and Grant, and provides a route between the valley of the
North Fork South Platte
River and the headwaters of the South Platte River in South Park.
addition to providing one of the principal access routes to South
Park, the pass offers dramatic view of the surrounding Rockies,
including the nearby peaks of Mount Evans and Mount Bierstadt.
The pass is easily traversable by most vehicles
, never reaching above the treeline and
featuring easily-negotiable curves along an amply wide highway.
approach on the eastern side is fairly gentle, ascending from near
Grant up a gulch
at the headwaters of the North Fork. The western side of
the pass has a steeper ascent, winding up the flank of a
mountainside east of the town of Jefferson.
An overlook on the west side of the pass
offers a panoramic view of South Park. The top of the pass is
nearly flat and surrounded by the Pike National Forest, with a National
Forest Service campground on the summit.
The pass was used by Ute
bands to reach
the hunting grounds of South Park. In the 19th century the pass was
used by white trappers to traverse the Front Range. During the Colorado Gold Rush of the 1860s the pass
was heavily used by prospectors eager to reach the placer gold fields at the headwaters of the
South Platte near Fairplay and other South Park mining communities.
increase in traffic led to the widening of the trail into a wagon
road; during the Colorado Silver
Boom the pass became one of the main routes of entry for eager
immigrants to Leadville, Breckenridge, and Aspen.
The Colorado Trail
crosses the summit
of Kenosha Pass. The trail portion near the campground and heading
northwest is popular with mountain bike enthusiasts and
In 1879 the pass was traversed by the narrow gauge Denver, South Park and
, providing the first rail link between Denver
and the South Park mining communities such as Fairplay (the tracks
were removed by 1937, but the modern highway essentially follows
the railroad route over the pass). During this same year of 1879,
the poet Walt
crossed the pass and described its summit with these
words, later published in Specimen
- I jot these lines literally at Kenosha summit, where we
return, afternoon, and take a long rest, 10,000 feet above
sea-level. At this immense height the South Park stretches
fifty miles before me. Mountainous chains and peaks in
every variety of perspective, every hue of vista, fringe the
view...so the whole Western world is, in a sense, but an expansion
of these mountains. 
In the South Park
Return of the Fellowship of the Ring to the Two Towers
" a sign
for Kenosha Pass can be seen as the boys walk from South Park to
Conifer to the video store.