It is one of the most enchanting Alpine passes we have ever had the pleasure of visiting. It is located southwest of the canton of Grisons, in Swiss territory, and at an altitude of 2,056 m above sea level, it connects the Moesano valleys, to the south, and the Posterior Rhine valley to the north.
The pass has been passable since the beginning of the 1900s and was immediately an important communication route. Since 1967 the tunnel that passes right under the pass has made this place a pure tourist destination.
Colleague: Hinterrhein (CH) with San Bernardino (CH)
Google Maps link: https://goo.gl/maps/KHuaW3KY8932
The spectacular nature of this place is due in particular to the presence of the Moesola lake right at the top of the pass where the San Bernardino Hospice also stands.
From the north, the road begins to climb towards the pass just outside the small town of Hinterrhein, in the Reno Posterior valley, an area surrounded by nature and with very little human presence.
From the almost flat valley the road immediately climbs up the north side of the mountain with a succession of hairpin bends which in a few kilometers take you from 1600 meters above sea level to over 1800. At this point the road runs along the valley floor with long straight stretches interrupted by small successions of hairpin bends.
The road surface is almost perfect, the roadway is wide enough to drive safely and visibility is excellent even in the lower part of the route, near the first hairpin bends, where the vegetation is never too thick. In the first section you need to pay attention to the absence of protections downstream which, given the sudden ascent, put you in front of a possible danger.
The last inhabited center that we find going up from the southern slope is San Bernardino, but the previous section that goes up from Mesocco is also of interest, obviously along the normal road and not the motorway.
From Mesocco to San Bernardino (14km) the road surface is literally perfect. There are no holes, cuts, dips, a perfect wide tongue of asphalt winding up through the dense vegetation.
From San Bernardino to the pass the roadway is a little narrower but here too, as on the opposite slope, it is wide enough to drive safely and here too we still find perfect asphalt. Going up towards the pass, the vegetation becomes less and less dense and the route is very varied, with wide curves and wide hairpin bends.
In our opinion
The San Bernardino Pass is a highly recommended destination! The presence of the tunnel often ensures very little traffic on this road, which makes it even more pleasant to navigate. The panoramas that you can admire here are truly stupendous and a stop at the top of the pass by the lake is a must!
This pass, whichever direction you take, can be included in an itinerary which, to the north-east, will take you to pass through the Spluga Pass, another excellent route which connects the Posterior Rhine Valley with Italy, in particular with Val Chiavenna.