Jones Pass West Fork Bowl Backcountry Skiing

Jones Pass West Fork Bowl from the South.  Photo: Rob Writz

The Jones Pass area is a massive backcountry skiing zone that is more frequented by snowmobiles than backcountry skiers. A winter’s worth of exploration is awaiting you in Jones Pass. We have divided the Jones Pass descriptions into three areas: Jones Pass South, Point 12,118 Zone, and the West Fork Bowl.

This area has historically been frequented by snowmobiles, and recently Powder Addiction has a permit to operate its cat skiing operation on the terrain surrounding the Jones Pass area. If you want a non-motorized experience, go to Butler Gulch. Otherwise, be thankful for the packed skin track put in by the snowmobiles and the significant work the Powder Addiction team does to maintain these roads in the winter.

Note the names of the runs here do not coincide with the names that the Powder Addiction Guides use.

+ ROUTES

West Fork Bowl

  • Season: Winter
  • Summit Elevation: 12,673’
  • Aspect: East, Southeast
  • Elevation Range: 10,465’ – 12,673’
  • Vertical: 600’ – 1,200’'
  • Snowmobile Access: Snowmobiles are allowed in Jones Pass

Skin Track:

The skin track to the West Fork Bowl starts at the west end of the winter trailhead at the obvious Forest Service signs. Ski a hundred yards up the road, and there is a sign showing Jones Pass to the right and Butler Gulch to the left.

The skin track follows the Jones Pass Road. The path of the jeep road is obvious, especially after snowmobiles or a snow cat have gone ahead. The road climbs eight tenths of a mile to a clearing below Point 12,118. [39.7793, -105.8638]. At this clearing separate from the Jones Pass Road and head north following a jeep road. This is well defined once Powder Addiction establishes the snow cat road. Continue into the West Fork Bowl, approximately 2.5 miles from the trailhead. [39.7948, -105.8833]

Exit:

All of these routes make their way back to the snowcat road used on the approach.

Routes:

9 - Highmark Glades – On the way to the West Fork Bowl and past Point 12,118 are short northeast facing glades.

10 - Peak 12,673 Bowl – The bowls below 12,673 drop into dispersed trees reminiscent of Chair 8 at Loveland Ski Area.

11 - Peak 12,666 Bowl – Steeper chutes drop directly from Peak 12,666 into the West Fork Bowl.

12 - Vasquez Saddle – This is a lower angled bowl that accesses the saddle between the West Fork of Clear Creek and Vasquez Creek.

+ TRAILHEAD

Jones Pass (10,465’)

Jones Pass and Butler Gulch share a winter trailhead. If you are coming from Interstate 70, leave the highway at Exit 232 for Winter Park and Highway 40. Drive slowly through the town of Empire as the town strictly enforces the 35 mph speed limit. From the Interstate 70 exit, drive 7.2 miles to the first major switchback on Berthoud Pass. Turn left on Henderson Mine Road to Jones Pass. Drive to the Henderson Mine complex and to your right is a small road leading 800 feet to the winter trailhead. [39.7712, -105.8548] If there has been significant snow, this small road may not be plowed and not passable. To the left is a large lot that you can park in. This lot is commonly used by snowmobiles. The Jones Pass and Butler Gulch winter trailhead serves both motorized and non-motorized winter users. Most trucks and trailers park at the lower lot near the mine, or in the first of the upper two lots.

+ MAPS & PICTURES

Below we have included a link to a Google interactive map and a curated list of photos of the mountain.

Clicking on map above will open interactive Google map website

Clicking on map above will open interactive Google map website