The eastern side of Argentine Pass was accessed on July 8, 2015 by Dan, Chris, and JoAnn Grenard. The western side was accessed on July 9, 2015. The east side of the pass is accessible by four wheel drive vehicles and the west side which is nicely accessible to a trail-head that enables foot access up the old route along a rather dramatic valley climb. This post describes the look and feel of both the west side and east side with photographs and some rather dramatic drone footage.
Historically Argentine Pass was used from about 1869 to about 1883 time period for access to both Montezuma and the placer mines along the Blue River in the Breckenridge area. A need for access developed in response to a silver rush that began about 1865. Much needed access routes into the region were needed to carry a wave of eager prospectors into the area. Marshall and Amanda Felch were some of these early entrants into the area and they have a fascinating story of their own. Webster pass actually provided the initial access into the Snake River Valley (Keystone and Montezuma area) but access was also needed from the Montezuma area to Georgetown. In 1869 a toll road was built from Georgetown to Montezuma by way of Argentine Pass. The costs of building the route were supported by charges against wagons and stock using them. It is probable that the Felch’s would have used Argentine Pass in the 1869 to about 1872 time period when accessing Georgetown and Denver from Montezuma.
East Access: Access from Georgetown is to the south along the Guanella Pass road then diverting west and following Leavenworth Creek a distance of about 15 miles. This is a four wheel drive route described in various four wheel drive books and online sites including one called every trail. The route is rough and rocky until you reach the Waldorf and then becomes more challenging. We went up on a day when it was raining lightly to moderately most of the day and stopped at the Waldorf Mine area before heading back. We’ve heard mixed reports on driving to the top where you would be able to see to the other side in a dramatic vista but not drive further as it is a foot trail on the other side.
The historical story behind both the east and western access is fairly similar. Today access on the eastern side is excellent following the Peru Creek Valley which connects to the Snake River just below Montezuma, a relatively short tributary that joins the Blue River in the Dillon area. This nicely developed access appears to be the result of a major reclamation effort going on in in the Pennsylvania Mine area near the base of Argentine Pass. Access stops in the upper part of the Peru River Valley about a half mile above the Pennsylvania Mine but continues on a nicely developed foot trail up to the top of the Pass.