Cottonwood Pass     Mt. Princeton

USA Pro Cycling Challenge At Cottonwood Pass

Stage 2 At Cottonwood Pass
The 2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge transpired this week through the Colorado Rocky Mountains. During Stage 2, professional cyclists began in Gunnison, then traveled through Almont, Taylor Canyon, past Taylor Park Reservoir, then cycled uphill on Gunnison County Road 209 (a dirt road!) to the top of Cottonwood Pass. Of course, they had more riding after that, with Buena Vista, Granite, Twin Lakes, Independence Pass on their route with Aspen as the final destination.

If you plan to watch the race from Cottonwood Pass next year in 2012, be advised that authorities somewhat limited the number of people who can be up there. On the previous day, Cottonwood Pass was closed to vehicular traffic beginning at 3 p.m. in the afternoon. Yes, they closed the gate on at the Denny Creek Trailhead parking lot! (I'm not sure what they did on the Taylor Park side.) Thus, many drove up their vehicles before the closing, then camped overnight. Some drove to the Denny Creek Trailhead parking lot on the morning of the stage race, and then hiked to the pass. Lastly, some cycled to Cottonwood Pass, then, when the grand parade of cyclists and SAG's were well ahead, they enjoyed the thrilling descent back to Buena Vista themselves.

The photos directly below were all taken by a friend who "screen captured" images of them riding up and down the pass. Those and others are included on my write-up about Stage 2 here: USA Pro Cycling Challenge Stage 2.


If you're well acquainted with the west side of Cottonwood Pass, there is a section of road above timberline where the road does many "S" turns. That would probably be a great spot to watch the race.

Some rain did come down which made Gunnison County Road 209 on the muddy side. Just amazing how they cycled through it!

A grand view of the mountains behind the riders.
USA Pro Cycling Challenge at Cottonwood Pass
Nearing the top.
USA Pro Cycling Challenge at Cottonwood Pass
Lots of crazy people running and cheering with the riders!
USA Pro Cycling Challenge
On the west side of the pass, riders speed down. That's a 10-11% grade in many section of that hill.

Three Photos by Alan Schenkel
View his album with more photos at:

USA Pro Cycling Challenge Stage 2 USA Pro Cycling Challenge USA Pro Cycling Challenge At Cottonwood Pass

USA Pro Cycling Challenge Recap & Highlights - Stage 2

The professional recap of the entire stage.

Way to go Alejandro Ramirez to race to the leader group!

Amateur Videos

The leaders and the peloton.

The beauty of watching at Cottonwood Pass is you can see them twice. Once at the top, then if you run over to the east side, you can watch them speed down on the paved switchbacks and curves.

Kudos to the pink bunny rabbit holding an American flag and the Cookie Monster. :)

Very windy. Hit the mute button.

My video on Chaffee County Road 306, approximately 17 miles east of Cottonwood Pass and 2.5 miles west of the center of Buena Vista.

In the center of Buena Vista.

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