SWITZERLAND ・MOUNTAIN PASS
SUSTEN PASS | SWISS ALPS
Driving the Susten Pass at the foot of the Gotthard Mountain between Wassen and Innertkirchen makes it crystal clear why the Swiss Alps are paradise to driving enthusiast. The Susten is a wide, almost 46 kilometres / 30 miles long, high alpine road with endless photo opportunities of which 26 are bridges and tunnels hewn into the rock massive. And it gets better and better behind every curve. No wonder even Porsche shot scenes of the promotion video for the 2016 model of the 911 R on the Susten Pass.
The road reaches its peak at 2260 meter / 7414 ft above sea level and serves mainly tourism. If we had to compare the Susten to any other European pass we have driven, we would give it a five star superior rating. And like most other driving enthusiasts based in Switzerland we will always shout out "Susten Pass" if we're asked for our favourite driving road.
Once you turn off the highway (which is already a pretty nice drive) towards the Susten you already know this will be great. Almost suddenly you find yourself within a unique scenery made of green meadows and cows calmly chewing their grass. Very soon you will then drive towards towering snow capped mountains and trough cute Swiss villages. Once finally on the pass it is hard to decide where to stop, there is just too many incredibly scenic spots. Our favourite is a stream of water falling down above a road tunnel.
The Susten Pass is wider and hence easier to drive than the most other alpine passes in Switzerland with occasionally tight curves and steep climbs. And the perfect start should you plan to loop also over its neighbouring alpine passes: Grimsel Pass and Furka Pass. In combination the passes are referred to as the “BIG3”and make the perfect Alpine driving adventure.
Since the 17th century a mule-train trading route over the Susten Pass existed. Later it had some strategic importance for Napoleons troops, before 1811 the development for a proper alpine pass began. 1818 the first stretch was opened and only 100 years later the entire pass was complete. In 1938 the Susten Pass was modernised to improve public transport, but also for reasons of national defence during WWII. Only on 7th September 1946 the road was opened for private cars and the public. Since then the pass serves mainly tourism and made Switzerland a spectacular attraction richer.
Night closures between 6 PM and 8 AM are strictly enforced.
Coming from Zurich we recommend not to mute your navigation unit (or direction giving passenger). Make sure not to miss the exit from the highway to get to drive over the Susten Pass. Otherwise you might end up inside the 17 kilometres long Gotthard tunnel instead, taking you to the south side of the Alps. Coming back will be a huge detour and cost a lot of time.
Because the Susten Pass is mainly used for tourism, the pass is the last to be cleared of snow. Coming here mid of June gives you a pretty good chance to touch some snow. The road is normally remains closed between November and beginning of June. Constantly updated status information on the Susten Pass is available online.
At then end of the Susten Pass visit the Aare Gorge. 1400 metres of a river eroded pathway with incredible rock formations. Especially during hot summers the up to 200 metres deep gorge is a nice way to cool down.
The Susten-Grimsel-Furka Alpine Pass Route is collectively referred to as the "BIG 3" and make together a hundred-twenty kilometre of ultra-scenic driving in the Swiss Alps.
Susten Pass - 46 kilometres / 30 miles - 2260 meter / 7414 ft altitude
Grimsel Pass - 38 kilometres / 24 miles - 2164 meters / 7099 ft altitude
Furka Pass - 40 kilometres / 25 miles - 2341 meters / 7680 ft altitude