Colorado Scenic Byways Map
West Elk Loop Scenic Byway
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
A mountain vacation resort in Almont for your family! Fish, Saddle, Paddle while enjoying our riverfront cabins and large homes between Gunnison and Crested Butte. Restaurant: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Redstone CO, Ruby of the Rockies! Avalanche Outfitters is a western horseback riding destination: back country trail rides, overnight pack trips, winter sleigh rides. New 2022 horse-drawn carriage dinner rides.
Near historic Marble, 5 miles from Redstone. Relax at our peaceful mountain retreat in a log Cabin or reunion Barnhouse. Fish Crystal River or our private pond. The Ranch is family, dog and horse friendly!
A rustic river-front resort. Quiet starry night skies at beautiful Lost Canyon, 8 miles North of Gunnison. Fully-equipped log fishing cabins. People-Friendly -- Children-Friendly -- Pet-Friendly. Moderate rates.
Along the West Elk Loop Scenic Byway, Marble CO is the gateway to Beaver Lake State Wildlife Area. On the Western slope of the Rocky Mountain between Carbondale and Paonia State Park off Highway 133.
Walk to river fishing! Redwood Arms Motel is near Paonia along The West Elk Scenic Loop Byway. A quaint hotel, spacious rooms, air conditioning, DirecTV with HBO, free WiFi. RV Park with full Hookups.
10 miles north of Gunnison in Almont, CO. A Riverside resort: cabins, vacation homes, Pro-Fly Shop along Three Rivers. Summer: Smokehouse Grill. Outfitting: Fish, Raft, Kayak. Plenty of winter recreation!
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