Did you figure out the title? It’s Black Bear backwards. We recently got a chance to run the infamous trail backwards. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for most four-wheelers, and we had to take advantage of the chance when we got it.
The story goes like this. Our buddy Mike, like many, is a lifelong four-wheeler. He lives, loves, sleeps, and eats 4x4s. Much of his life revolves around getting out in the dirt and engaging locking hubs, lockers, and low range. In fact, he has now added four-wheeling to his professional resume after spending a season as a Jeep tour guide and driver for Switzerland of America Jeep Tours in Ouray, Colorado. As a part of this unique 4×4 dream job, Mike got connected with the Wild Bunch 4×4 Club of Montrose, Colorado, and as it happens this club does backflips through flaming hoops to get permission from local authorities to lead a few lucky souls through this incredible trail once a year—backwards, swimming upstream, against the flow, fighting gravity and physics.
Coming down Black Bear Pass, the generally correct direction, is nothing to sneeze at. With the amazing views, the off-camber and often slick stair-step portion at the top of the impressive decent, and the breathtaking switchbacks, it is probably not that surprising that people have died falling off this old mining road near Telluride, Colorado. Doing the trail backwards takes steady nerves and a cool head. Beyond the pucker factor of driving inches away from thousand-foot drops and a few technical climbs, the trail is not all that hard—not even backwards—but add a little rain and the rocks get slick and the trail becomes that much more intimidating.
One day in August 2016, we woke up well before sunrise so we could can make it to the top of the one-way section of Black Bear Pass by 9:30 and thus not interfere with too many folks running the trail the correct direction. We loaded up in Mike’s 1947 CJ-2A and headed for the . . . er, end of the trail near Telluride, Colorado. Now, we could wax poetic on is amazing experience, but instead we will just show you the pictures with some light captions.
Switzerland of America Jeep Tours
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