Colorado Scenic Byways Map
West Elk Loop Scenic Byway
The late 1800s brought prospectors and miners from all over the country. When the hills had given up their gold, many of the miners stayed to help build and maintain towns by ranching. The area of Carbondale was one of these places. The West Elk Loop starts at Carbondale and travels through Paonia, Hotchkiss, Crawford, Gunnison, and Crested Butte. The byway covers 205 miles and takes 6-8 hours to travel.
This byway circles dazzling scenery. The mountain ranges and alpine wildflowers bring nature to you, and the farms and cattle ranches commemorate those who began here. The Black Canyon of Gunnison is the only canyon with such a narrow opening, steep walls, and gigantic depth. Its twin summit of Mount Sopris also towers at 12,953 feet over the town of Carbondale, the Roaring Fork and the Crystal River flowing beneath it.
Carbondale is the gateway to Highway 133 just off Highway 82. One of Colorado's secret geothermal springs is hidden here -- Penny Hot Springs; named after it's original owner Dan Penny. Dan's hotel and bathhouse are long gone, but those "in the know" still find the pools of warm water waiting for them along the Crystal River. This Free soaking area is easy to find from Highway 133, near Carbondale, as it follows Crystal River. Just north of milepost marker 55 there is a parking area on the west side of the highway. You know you are in the right spot if you smell sulfur as you're gathering your towels and picnic.
Places to Stay & Fun Things to Do
Moderate rates - people-friendly, children-friendly -- pet-friendly. Enjoy quiet starry night skies at beautiful Lost Canyon -- a rustic river-front resort, 8 miles North of Gunnison. Fully-equipped log fishing cabins.
Walk to river fishing! Redwood Arms Motel is on 20 acres near Paonia along The West Elk Scenic Loop Byway. A quaint hotel, spacious rooms with coffeemaker, air conditioning, DirecTV with HBO, free WI-FI.
Spend your holiday along the River, north of Gunnison on your way to Crested Butte! Riverfront Cabins. RESORT AMENITIES: Rockey Barn, WI-FI, library, use Townie bike. Enjoy fishing, hiking, biking, relaxing.
More Activities & Information
Crystal River Valley, Colorado includes: Carbondale, Marble, Redstone
Gunnison, Colorado includes: Almont, Blue Mesa Lake, Ohio City, Parlin, Pitkin, Sargents, Sapinero, Taylor Park, Waunita Hot Springs
Montrose Area, Colorado includes: Cimarron, Olathe
North Fork Valley, Colorado includes: Hotchkiss, Paonia, Somerset