The West Elk Loop has once been described by a forest ranger as “the closest you can some to a wilderness experience through a passenger car”. Even through just your windshield, people who pass by the area can see bears, elk, deer, bighorn sheep, coyotes, eagles and several other wildlife creatures. The road is comprised of 204 miles with two lanes. It runs through the rural western Colorado, and touches three designed Wildlife Areas. It passes through thousands of acres of National Forest. The road skirts canyons rims, follows the Whitewater Rivers, plunges into the deep forests and comes across deserts and sagebrush plains. This area certainly provides a unique immersion in the scenery, history, as well as the culture of Western Colorado.
A popular route to head down to this place is to start in Gunnison, heading north on Colorado Highway 135 to Crested Butte. Then head west over the Kebler Pass, a dirt road usually open from Memorial Day to early November, depending on the amount of snowfall. Go straight to 133 south through the Paonia and in Hotchkiss, take 92 east heading towards Crawford. The highway ends on the US Highway 590 at the Blue Mesa Dam. The West Elk Loop covers about 205 miles and takes 6 to 8 hours to travel.
The byway comes with stunning scenery. This is why most people don’t mind traveling long hours through the road. The mountain ranges and alpine wildflowers bring people closer to nature, with farms and cattle ranchers that reflect the beginnings of the area. The Black Canton of Gunnison, which can be seen through the byway, is the only canyon with a narrow opening, steep walls, and a gigantic depth. The twin summit of the Mount Sopris also towers 12,953 feet over the town of Cardbondale, with the Roaring Fork and Crystal River flowing below.
Curecanti Recreation Area along the Byway
The Curecanti Recreation Area found along the byway is a common stopping areas of people passing by. It is made up of three different reservoirs, which are the Crystal Lake, Marrow Point Lake, and the Blue Mesa Reservoir. The area is quite popular for fishing, boating, as well as wind sailing. A lot of people do hiking too, as well as several other outdoor activities including backpacking, horseback riding, mountain biking, road biking, rock climbing, camping, picnicking and more. There are definitely a lot of things that people can enjoy here, especially during the summer. And when its winter, the area is great for snowmobiling, snowshoeing, ice fishing, cross-country skiing, and backcountry skiing.
The byway now extends to the northern end from Lake City to the Blue Mesa Reservoir, right at the intersection of the US Highway 50 and the State Highway 149, about 9 miles west of the City of Gunnison. The new section provides easy access to different scenic wonders, historical landmarks, and extensive recreational areas.
- The Crawford and Paonia State Parks
- Drive through the Grand Mesa, White River and the Gunnison National Forest
- Gaze down the stunning Black Canyon
- Fish in the Curecanti National Recreation Area featuring three reservoirs
- Enjoy the views at the Crystal River Valley
- Climb to the top of the Twin Summits at Mount Sopris
┊C┊H┊R┊I┊S┊•┊K┊O┊P┊F┊With so much to do in Gunnison – Crested Butte you will not know where to start. Enjoy the outdoors with hiking, biking, golf, fishing, rafting and much more!! Crested Butte offers a wide variety of properties including ski in/ski out single family homes, ski-in/ski-out condominiums, lake and river frontage properties, golf course property, and true luxury mountain homes on acreage. To see Crested Butte Homes or search the MLS – visit ChrisKopf.com. Contact me at: (970) 209-5405, or firstname.lastname@example.org