Cottonwood pass is not that bad. I towed a 27 foot camper over it at 2am! Just take it slow and you'll be fine. Cottonwood is beautiful and take time to stop on top of it for an impromptu snowball fight!
ATVing this early in year is not too good. A lot of the good ATV trails over the continental divide are still snow covered. If you are ok with that, you'll have fun.
We are headed to Taylor Park in 3 days and have been going there for years. We dry camp and have a blast.
Please be safe if you ATV and wear helmets and take it slow. Colorado can have very tricky terrain and ATVs do flip and hurt people quite often.
The only time I blew a tire was on an ATV trailer that I was towing too fast up Tin Cup Pass but carrying repair kits, air compressor, and a patch kit is a must!
Message me if you have questions or wish to link up if you'll be there at the same time.
Biggest piece of advice: Get a funtreks guidebook for that contains all of the jeep and ATV trails. It rates the trails and if you are a newbie to CO riding stick to the easy and moderate trails. The expert trails will and can hurt you if you are inexperience and some of them are downright scary. https://www.funtreks.com/
I've had to spend the night twice overnight in the mountains. Once was when my bike broke down and a second time was when I was caught in a zero visibility blizzard snowmobiling. Carrying survival equipment kept me alive. It is easy to get lost and find yourself spending the night in the back country. BE PREPARED:
(a) map, compass, and GPS if you aren't good at reading maps and finding your position/location on one.
(b) I carry a SPOT GPS tracker/satellite messenger when I ATV or snowmobile in the back country. The back country is no joke and if you or loved one get hurt on an ATV or get lost hiking, a SPOT GPS tracker can save your life.
(c) Carry spare fuel at least 50% of what your ATV's capacity is.
(d) Cold weather and wet weather gear. Temps get down to mid 30's at night even in the hottest months of summer in Taylor Park area.
(d) Fire starter, matches, lighter, and a small saw to but branches for fire if you end up staying the night
(e) Small portable air compressor
(f) I carry pen signal flares (military downed aviator type) as a backup to the SPOT tracker
(g) Bear spray
(h) A powerful hand gun in addition to bear spray, 357 is what I carry. Lots of ATV riders in Taylor Park open carry so don't be scared.
(i) Spare water and I carrry water filtration device
(j) Small stove to cook up and utensils
(l) Gloves, it can get very cold at night
(m) Dust mask,bandana, and goggles. Taylor Park can get VERY dusty and if you don't protect yourself you'll be defecating dust for weeks.
(n) Communication. I have helmet mic and speakers connected to a Baofeng radios so I can communicate with my riding partners.
(o) Starter fluid (ether) to re-seat the beads on a rim if you hit a rock too hard (watch youtube to learn how to do this)
(q) Winch on ATV is a must
(r) Jumper cables
(s) Spare oil for atv-if you flip or roll and ATV and aren't hurt, you'll probably lose some oil...ask me how I know ;-)
..... good hiking shoes assuming the worst case
..... small tool kit
......spare fuses for atv
Although Taylor Park is a popular spot it is possible to get lost off trail or get hurt. Take it slow and be prepared for the worst.
Here is what I have witnessed in past several years:
Buddy riding too fast on easy trail hit a small rock in road which caused bump steer. Result: ATV went airborn and landed on him causing: 2 collapsed lungs, 5 broken ribs, broken back, and broken legs.
ATV riding to Aspen from Taylor Park rolled front over back causing rider to break her neck. Steep uneven terrain can be very dangerous even for skilled rider and this rider was VERY skilled.
Small rut in road caused me to go flying off of my ATV and I broke my wrist 4 hours from my campsite.
Man riding with 7 year old son rolled his ATV on top of himself. His son couldn't help him and he was pinned for about an hour before my wife and I came across him.