The Julier Pass, is actually an old Roman road, is since 1840 a modern road link connecting the Upper Rhine Valley with the Engadine. Because the pass is one of the most important Alpine roads, the road offices try to keep it open for traffic all the year. The Julier Pass route was once part of one of the most important Alpine crossings in the Roman Empire and led by Comum (Como) across the Easternswitzerland to Chur and then on to Brigantinum (Bregenz) and Augusta Vindelicum (Augsburg). There were two options for the traveler. At Casaccia in Val Bregaglia (between Maloja to Chiavenna) crossing over the Maloja Pass, Silvaplana and the Julier Pass to Bivio, or the shorter connection, the Septimerpass. Many castles in Domleschg (Rhine Valley between Reichenau and Thusis) and so called Saeumer communities testify this very hard times.
Saeumer were at that time known as freight forwarders which moved the loads of bullock carts over to mules that took over the transport through the passes. The motorbike tourist should take the time and look at these buildings that are located between Bonaduz, Thusis and Tiefencastel. They are still very impressive. Thusis was formerly an important Saeumer headquarter and served the goods transportation to the Julier and Septimerpass and over the San Bernardino.
In the village Thusis you turn onto the Julier pass road at the southern end of the town just behind the Migros super market at the roundabout in the direction of St. Moritz or you choose, approaching from Chur, exit Thusis south. Follow the Albula valley through many curves and several tunnels uphill towards Tiefencastel, where the Julier Pass road runs straight through a grove of trees in well-maintained serpentines. Shortly thereafter, the valley Oberhalbstein (Surses) and reached and you crosse the village Savognin, a sleepy little village. In the valley, the road passes the meadows quite moderate without major curves. The small town of Sur is then reached. Here the Julier pass road winds along the right side of the village in a long curve and enters soon into many small serpentines until you reach the Lai da Marmorera lake. The small town Marmorera was during construction of the dam and is now located left up the hill. We are still surrounded by lush forests, which however, changes dramatically in a short time.
After the village Bivio the area becomes now more rocky and alpine. Here in Bivio separates the Julier pass road from the Septimer pass road which still, as a former Roman road exits off to the right. We follow the road on the outskirts of the village to the left. The view reaches far over the hills and you can spot already all these alpine road curves.. The pass road continues into many serpentines, past the hospice up to the summit, on which you can only find a tourist kiosk with gift shop and a mobile phone transmitter. The hospice is located just some miles before you reach the summit and offers local specialties at reasonable prices. So when you have reached the summit and enjoyed the view, just take the time and ride these 1 mile back for a good local lunch.
Many, geometrically arranged large rocks still proove from ancient Roman times. Worth mentioning are also the two Roman stone poles left and right of the pass road, exactly at the top of the summit. They do grant traveling luck and a safe journey.
The descent down to Silvaplana in the Engadine is relatively short, compared to the driveway of Tiefencastel, since the Lake of Silvaplana is a lot higher in altitude than Thusis. In Silvaplana you have multiple options to continue the journey. Bent left at the roundabout you will reach Sankt Moritz and the Bernina Pass, Albula pass, Fluelapass, Ofenpass, to Livigno, or even the entire Inn Valley brings you down the Reschen pass. Turned right it goes on via the Maloja pass down to Chiavenna, and then via the Spluegen Pass, or continue down to the Northern Italian Lakes.