Sunday, June 30, 2013

Gorgeous Hiking and Back Roads Near Crested Butte

Temperatures were predicted to climb in the Gunnison Valley where we are staying so we headed North a few miles to check out Crested Butte. This former coal mining town is now an upscale ski town and, on the day we visited, it was a lovely sight to behold: quaint historic buildings surrounded by rolling green hills, bright patches of wildflowers in bloom, with snow-touched mountains near and far.

The drive up was beautiful beyond words.

After a quick stop at the visitor center we hiked the nearby Snodgrass Trail.

After a few miles on the trail, the back country beckoned, it was time for a dirt road drive. We headed up Gothic Road, making a brief stop in Gothic...a former mining boom town, it is now the site of Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory.

From Gothic we continued North, around Mt Baldy, on to what I believe was Slate River Rd, through the tiny hamlet of Pittsburgh, and back to Crested Butte. This ended up being about 25 miles of dirt road, stream crossings, narrow mountainside sections where we were fortunate not to meet anyone, and astounding beauty.

The East River snakes its way through the valley North of Crested Butte.
Clouds were building all around us as we headed into the back country.

Here the road narrowed dramatically, with a steep drop off on the left.
A small creek almost takes over the road, something we would see often on this drive.

Emerald Lake.
We saw zebra-striped mountains in the distance.

One of several stream crossings.

Natures infinity pool.

Looking back a the valley we'd just ascended.

The road would make its way into the valley below.

The zebra-striped mountain turned out to be a glacier trough up close.

The valley formed by the glacier above.

A last look back at the beautiful country we had driven through.
Beaver dam in foreground.

We took a little walk through downtown Crested Butte, admiring the historic buildings and browsing through some of the stores...the prices were too rich for our pocketbooks though!

During the drive back to Gunnison we admired the puffy clouds over the rolling hillsides.

Taking a short detour through the tiny town of Almont looking for an RV park that never appeared, we spotted some big horn sheep grazing on a hillside.

Later, we walked to dinner at Garlic Mikes just down the road from our RV park. The food was good, but not great. We crossed the Gunnison River on the way home and watched paddlers enjoying an evening float and fish.

Another fantastic summer day in Colorado!


  1. Your shots of the area are gorgeous and I'm surprised it's still so green considering the low rain levels. I always wanted to ski Crested Butte back in our younger days.

  2. Thanks for sharing the beautiful photos. Enjoyed them as I sit in AZ with 114 degree temps. Yet another area on my list to visit.

  3. So great to see photos of a place I hold in great reverence. The scenery is truly breath taking. I have memories of many hikes in that area as a young woman and one in particular where I read, for the first time, Wordsworth's poem "A Few Lines Composed above Tintern Abby." Many years later when I taught the poem in my English classes, I would re-imagine those vistas that you captured so well in this post.

  4. Lovely, reminds me of hiking in the Canadian Rockies!

  5. You hit a bonanza of Mules Ears! Wonderful shots of wide open country.
    Box Cany0n mark

  6. Just wow and wow and wow. great photos!

  7. I'm not even sure what words to use to share my thoughts. What a fantastic day you had! Your photos really show the beauty of your surroundings. Your mountain and valley views, the wildflowers, and snowy fields were wonderful. I bet that back road ride was awesome. I told John we most certainly need to visit these areas. Another great day living this good life:)

  8. So glad you made it up to Crested Butte. We were pretty blown away by the area. We never made it up to Emerald Lake because of snow on the road so it was nice to see it in your pictures. Gorgeous photos!!!

  9. Simply fantastic. Like Pam, I'm not sure what words to use.

  10. We were just through there June 29 and 30. Beautiful place