The Moffat Road Letterbox  LbNA # 17785

Placed DateAug 31 2005
LocationWinter Park, CO
Planted By4 Quarters    
Found By Killer Bees
Last Found Jul 17 2010
Hike Distance?

David Moffat had a dream: a railroad line over or through the Continental Divide linking Denver with the coal from the western slope and beyond. In 1902 he started building the Denver Northwestern and Pacific Railway, a standard gauge railroad. The "Hill Route" with 33 short tunnels was opened in 1904 as a temporary line until a tunnel could be bored through James Peak. He didn't forsee that the 24 mile route over Rollins Pass would be used as part of the mainline for nearly 24 years.
The 6.2 mile Moffat Tunnel was completed in 1928. The "Hill Route" was closed, and abandoned in 1935. The rails were pulled up. The original route became a tourist attraction in 1955 as an auto road. Snow was cleared by July 4th and it was "passable" until snowed over in the fall. It was in 1979 that a rockfall near the north portal of the Needle's Eye Tunnel occurred. The road was closed to the public and the trestles were declared unsafe.

Completion of the tunnel through the Continental Divide in 1927 made the 23 miles of track over Rollins Pass unnecessary and cut the average running time for passenger trains from 2 ˝ hours over “the hill” to 12 minutes through the tunnel. Shall we begin our trip across the western part of “the hill”? All aboard!!!

Note: You can pick up a self-guided auto tour brochure for $1.00 from the Winter Park Visitors Center, located in the center of the city on Hwy 40. It is well worth it and is full of interesting facts about the drive as you go up “the hill”, or, print off another version of the auto tour at this web link:

Directions to the Moffat Road Letterbox:

From Denver, take I-70 West to Hwy 40 (Exit 232 Empire/Granby).
After traveling over Berthoud Pass you will see a sign that says, “Winter Park City Limit”. Shortly after that sign you will come to a traffic light that is at Main Street and Winter Park Drive. 1.4 miles after the light on your right will be a sign that says, “Corona Pass”. Turn right. You will see a large sign at the beginning of this road that says, “Moffat Tunnel Pass” and then “Rollins Pass Road”. This road is known by all three names. It is a dirt road, that is easily passable, however, a SUV would handle the road much better than a normal car. Be aware that there are a couple spots that we had to take slowly due to some rutting. You will be traveling 11 miles up this road.

Approximately mid-way up the hill, there is a point with several ways to turn, continue up the hill marked with a road marker that says, #149. As you approach the top you will see in front of you an old Railroad Trestle. Off to the right is a parking turn off. Park here. Looking towards the trestle, you will see a foot path to the left and one on the right which will take you up to the top of the trestle. Take the one on the left that goes up the hill and ends up on the left (West) side of the trestle. CHECK OUT THE VIEW! WOW! You are at 11,135 feet!

Stand at the sign on the trestle that says DO NOT ENTER. Walk on the road away from the trestle about 52 steps. There will be a very large spruce on your right and this is the first tree that you come to on the right of the road. Look under the NW side of the tree under the rocks and limbs that protect this box. GPS: N 39degrees 53.984; W 105 degrees 42.516.

The 4 Quarters (Peach and Cappy; Aljan Sundance and Donnie) represent two letterbox “teams” and therefore, there are 2 journals in the box for you to stamp into; one per couple. We hope to see your stamp in them!

This road is CLOSED during the snow season. Mountain driving on dirt road for 11 miles. Give yourself 3 hours round trip on The Moffat Road, additional time for driving to and from Denver. Take a picnic lunch to enjoy at the top! BEAUTIFUL, HISTORICAL AREA!