3 votes

Needle's Eye Tunnel


Photo taken by Alex Patton in July 2006

License: Public domain: Released by author


View this photo on Wikipedia

BH Photo #295352


Needles Eye Tunnel Collapse Boulder County Colorado 1990

This is old news footage of the Needles Eye Tunnel collapse in the summer of 1990 that untimately closed Corona Pass to traffic from that day on. A DFD Fire Captain was severely injured in the collapse but survived. A group of other FD friends were with him on scene and were responsible in saving his live.

Video by Steve Davis posted by Roger Deschner

Play video on YouTube


This iconic tunnel under a shoulder of a high ridge is visible for miles around. Built 1903-05 as part of the Moffat Road route over Rollins Pass. The rail line was replaced by the Moffat Tunnel in 1928, and the tracks removed in 1935. Reopened for automobiles in 1955. Closed after rock fall in 1979. Reopened in 1988, and then closed again after another rock fall in 1990 that caused an injury. Due to its position on a high ridge, there is no practical way to bypass it, except the also-closed Boulder Wagon Road that follows a completely different route, leaving Interstate 70 as the nearest road bypass. Reopening the tunnel and the road has become the subject of continuing controversy. The tunnel itself is in Boulder County, though most of the road is in Grand and Gilpin Counties. See links below for much more information.


Tunnel on Abandoned Moffat Road
Boulder County, Colorado
Closed to all traffic
Future prospects
1988 preservation project failed after partial collapse in 1990, which remains controversial today.
Built 1903-1905; Bypassed 1928; Abandoned 1935; Reopened as a road 1955-1979 and 1988-1990.
- Denver & Salt Lake Railway (D&SL)
- Denver, Northwestern & Pacific Railway (DNW&P)
Span length: 150.0 ft.
Total length: 150.0 ft.
Deck width: 22.0 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 30.0 ft.
Listed as a contributing resource to the Denver, Northwestern and Pacific Railway Historic District
Also called
Tunnel Number 32
Approximate latitude, longitude
+39.93596, -105.65939   (decimal degrees)
39°56'09" N, 105°39'34" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
13/443661/4420857 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
East Portal
11600 ft. above sea level
Inventory number
BH 63118 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • March 14, 2022: Photo imported by Dave King
  • September 24, 2014: Updated by Roger Deschner: Fixed location, add description, video
  • September 23, 2014: Added by Luke

Related Bridges 



Needle's Eye Tunnel
Posted September 24, 2014, by Roger Deschner (rogerdeschner [at] gmail [dot] com)

Note that the Needle's Eye Tunnel (Tunnel 32) and the Riflesight Notch Tunnel (Tunnel 33) are different tunnels on the same route, the former on the eastern side of Rollins Pass and the latter on the western side.