This West Elk Loop Drive Will Lasso You Into Fall
This 204-mile long road through numerous National Forests is a beautiful way to see Colorado’s Fall Colors. West Elk Loop will lasso you into Fall.
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The West Elk Loop is a lasso shaped loop with twin summits on one end and the Black Canyon on the other. With the loop being over 200 miles, it’s going to take at least six hours. There’s so much to see on this drive like:
- White River
- Gunnison National Forest
- Black Canyon
- Curecanti National Recreational Area
- Crawford and Paonia State Parks
Along with the many mountain/mining towns such as Gunnison, Redstone, Marble, Paonia, and Carbondale.
The historic coke ovens in Redstone, Colorado. We were driving through the Crystal River Valley from Carbondale, with no plan of action or timetable, when we stopped to learn about this site. Across the road and through the trees, we spotted a beautifully restored Victorian-style home and impulsively took a detour into the neighborhood. What we found was a tiny village (population 92) straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting. We were so charmed that we ended up staying a night in town, right along the crystal blue Crystal River. I love unexpected finds like this.
West Elk Loop passes through Redstone, where you can see the coke ovens. These were built in the late 1800s and since have been refurbished and are part of the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
West Elk Loop reaches over 12,000 feet high. and sections are closed from November – April. From the Victorian buildings in Crested Butte to the seemingly endless miles of wilderness, this drive is worth all day.