Saturday, December 9, 2023


Beware of the Wolf: Surviving Colorado’s intense Wolf Creek Pass

My husband and I drove our 40-foot motorhome towing a pickup truck down one of the most dangerous highways in Colorado, Wolf Creek Pass, and lived to tell the tale. This pass has a switchback curve at the top and a 200-foot drop-off. Forget the guardrails here, you’d go off the cliff!

Before we drove the pass, Googling Colorado US 160 brought me to the Colorado Department of Transportation article about runaway and rollover semis on Wolf Creek Pass. 47 semis in four years went over! Not the most convincing or calming…

Courtesy Colorado Department of Transportation

Nanci Dixon Photo Credit

Nanci Dixon Photo Credit

We climbed to 10,869 feet over the 41 miles and crossed the pass. On the way up we just chugged along. But going down had more than 45,000 pounds of motorhome and pickup pushing us down the mountain. Wolf Creek Pass has one of the steepest paved mountain passes in Colorado, with a 6% grade going east and a 7% downhill grade going west!

Snow at Wolf Creek Pass. Nanci Dixon photo credit.

Wolf Creek Pass roads. Photo credit Nanci Dixon

Thank goodness for my husband’s expert driving and our motorhome’s exhaust brakes. We had met an RVer and semi-truck driver the day before that had driven the pass numerous times and suggested we listen to the Wolf Creek Pass song by C.W. McCall. Enjoy, we sure did! (But only when we were safely on flat land again!)

If you can’t get enough of this catchy song, listen to it while the pass whizzes by (if you dare!)…


Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon has been a full-time RVer living “The Dream” for the last six years and an avid RVer for decades more! She works and travels across the country in a 40’ motorhome with her husband. Having been a professional food photographer for many years, she enjoys snapping photos of food, landscapes and an occasional person. They winter in Arizona and love boondocking in the desert. They also enjoy work camping in a regional park. Most of all, she loves to travel.



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Tom R (@guest_253638)
2 months ago

I’ve heard that song many times over the years and so was looking forward to seeing the Wolf in person. We drove it West bound in our Mercedes diesel Sprinter class C, towing a 3400lb Honda CRV. No exhaust brakes in this rig. So just took it slow in 2nd gear, no problems.

Gary A G (@guest_253503)
2 months ago

Love C.W.McCall, great music.

Mike Schwab (@guest_243934)
5 months ago

Ever drive down a road with time to kill and interesting rock face on the side of the road? Order a Roadside Geology book for your state or area as a guide to what rocks are there. (Used RVTravel link for the search.)

Diane McGovern
5 months ago
Reply to  Mike Schwab

Thanks, Mike. That’s a great idea! Have a good night. 😀 –Diane at

John Lockhart (@guest_243504)
5 months ago

I did Wolf Creek Pass last summer, towing. The only issue was going down, with the rpm my engine sustained (no where near redline) the engine management system didn’t like the airflow and gave me a check engine light. I was convinced nothing was wrong and proceeded to the next Advance Auto store that was convenient to stop at, and had it reset with their free scanning tool use.

Conni (@guest_243396)
5 months ago

I do my best to avoid curvy mountain passes, and that would be one I would avoid. Somehow we ended up on a 10% grade the other day in Utah. That was a first for me.

CeeCee (@guest_243364)
5 months ago

We did Wolf Creek going west in a 36’ gas coach about a month ago. The worst part was loss of power in the coach as we climbed due to a combo of low octane fuel and elevation. Coming down was just a question of shifting down rather than applying brakes. There is a viewpoint with a piece of broken concrete barrier where an 18 wheeler went over in September 2021. Enter fatal truck crash Wolf Creek pass on YouTube for a video about it. WC is worthy of respect, but it’s not the worst pass we’ve encountered.

Dick Hime (@guest_243350)
5 months ago

Being an avid CW McCall fan decades ago, the song challenged us to try it with our 1-ton dually pickup and 12,000 pound 5th wheel (total weigh about 21,000) some 30 years ago. I was an experienced mountain driver but it was still a task and not a commute I’d like to make regularly but, at least we didn’t end up “bashed into the side of the feed store in Pagosa Springs.” Requires judicious speed control and reserved service brake application, along with engine compression/transmission braking on gas units or exhaust braking with diesels. One must resist the temptation to “let it roll”.

Steve H (@guest_243344)
5 months ago

If you think Wolf Creek is bad, try 12,000′ Loveland Pass on US 6. Before the Eisenhower Tunnel opened, that was the only way to get from Denver to the Summit County ski areas–A-Basin, Breckenridge, and the brand new Keystone and Copper Mountain. Also, the only route to Vail, where we honeymooned after driving a 3/4-ton Ford with a big Mitchell camper in the bed (and a Suzuki trail bike on the back rack) over that pass. It was a gas V-8, so no exhaust brake for that downgrade!

We have taken all 3 of our RVs over Wolf Creek more than once. But, as others have said, it is so much better now that there is no comparison to the 1970’s US 160. However, we haven’t taken any of them over the Million Dollar Highway between Ouray and Silverton. Too many southbound drivers in big MHs crossing the centerline due to the screaming of their spouse in the passenger seat!

MattD (@guest_243373)
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve H

HAHA! Man…I white knuckled that once. Never again.

PerryB (@guest_244147)
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve H

In 72 I took my 62 VW camper van over Loveland Pass in January. With it’s 36 hp engine it was a cold, slow climb. Had to reset the timing a couple of times on the way up, in da*n cold weather. Canibus wasn’t legal then, but it sure made the drive more enjoyable. I still miss that bus.

Last edited 5 months ago by PerryB
Sandi Pearson (@guest_243338)
5 months ago

Just checked our 2022 way points…we did 160 from Utah to Alamosa Co but only in a 36′ DP towing a Jeep….Wish I had known the notoriety I would have included the song in our travel blog!

KellyR (@guest_243333)
5 months ago

It sounds like going over Monteagle, TN before I-24 went in.

Bob P (@guest_243251)
5 months ago

I thought of that record while reading the article, good show, now you know what white knuckling means. Lol

Leslie P (@guest_243241)
5 months ago

We enjoyed traveling the pass but it’s not for the faint of heart! I even saw a wolf running in the snow! Thanks for the great article.

Ron Twellman (@guest_243232)
5 months ago

Did Wolf Creek Pass on my first trip to CO in a carbureted 4-wheeler and a couple of times since. I really love driving so roads like this are a challenge I look forward to. They require your undivided attention. I’ve also been from Durango to Ouray, up Pikes Peak, and the Alaska Highway.

Ray Cordero (@guest_243228)
5 months ago

We loved that drive…in a car. Future article if you haven’t written it yet would be to list other hair-raising drives like this one. Highway 1 in CA and 101 in CA/OR come to mind.

T & S (@guest_243224)
5 months ago

I am staying in an RV park in South Fork, a few miles east of Wolf Creek. We arrived here from AZ on US 160 pulling our 43 ft Fifth Wheel. It was not that bad. Take it slow and easy, using engine brake when necessary and you will be fine. Have driven it multiple times in our TV with no issues. Beautiful scenery but please keep your eyes on the road!!

Sandi Pearson (@guest_243324)
5 months ago
Reply to  T & S

If you are at Family Fun Valley say HI to Rhonda and Wayne

Irv (@guest_243221)
5 months ago

I never realized the song was about a real road.

Gary Broughton (@guest_243205)
5 months ago

This pass is very scenic and if you’re driving too fast you’ll dislike it. Was only 2 lane before with lots of braking.

Last edited 5 months ago by Gary Broughton
Billinois (@guest_243172)
5 months ago

I’m old enough to remember when Wolf Creek was 2 lane over the entire pass. Wolf Creek today is a piece of cake compared to US 550, Silverton to Ouray.

Lawrence Neely (@guest_243293)
5 months ago
Reply to  Billinois

Me too, I have been over both quite a few times and US 550 is a little more challenging” and more scenic.

Dan (@guest_243165)
5 months ago

Been over it more than once on two wheels. It’s a challenge but the scenery is hard to beat. I wouldn’t consider it now on the six wheels we have.

Herman (@guest_243147)
5 months ago

Yup.Colorado has a couple of these ‘nail biters!’ Scenery is great for the one that is not driving!

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