5 Best Fall Foliage Drives near Crested Butte

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With numerous aspen forests in the Crested Butte area, it can be hard to choose just one for leaf-peeping. By hopping behind the wheel, your odds improve at catching more color-drenched scenery. We’ve chosen the 5 best fall foliage drives to make life a little easier for you.

Kebler Pass

Vehicle: Any
Approx RT Time: 2-4 hours
Map & Directions: Click Here

Kebler pass is home to one of the largest aspen groves in the world. Even more mind blowing is the fact that it grows from a single root system and is a single living organism. What this means for you is a surreal experience for fall as giant swaths of yellow shine amidst the surrounding peaks. Drive over the whole pass and you’ll descend into the friendly little town of Paonia.

Recommended stop: Lost Lake Slough

Ohio Pass

Vehicle: Any
Approx Time: 2 hours to Gunnison
Map & Directions: Click Here

Kebler’s baby brother off to the south can be just as rewarding. The Castles stand guard in the distance surrounded by thousands of aspens. Views from Ohio Pass showcase the pristine West Elk Wilderness, which is protected from development. Continue driving south on Ohio Pass road and you’ll pass the ghost town of Baldwin, before grabbing some lunch down in Gunnison.

Recommended Stop/Hike: Beaver Ponds

Brush Creek

Vehicle: Cars up to 5 miles in, SUV after
Approx RT Time: 1-2 hours
Map & Directions: Click Here

Around the south end of Crested Butte mountain lies the Brush Creek drainage. Drive past aspen stands at the base of the butte on the left and on Strand Hill to the right. After you descend into the East River Valley, Teocalli Mountain looms off in the distance (pictured). Follow the road back up for more grand the views of the valley and the aspen trees that line it.

Washington Gulch

Difficulty: Cars most of the way; SUV to the Pass
Approx RT Time: 1-2 hours
Map & Directions: Click Here

Washington Gulch offers some of the best fall scenery with Mount Crested Butte by car. Spectacular views of the whole valley await from near the top of the pass. Some cars might have trouble with the tight switchback just above Elkton, but you’re already close to the pass by then.

Bonus: (SUV recommended) Drive over the Pass into Slate River Valley back to CB

West Elk Loop

Vehicle: Any
Approx RT Time: 4-5 hours
Map & Directions: Click Here

This road follows the West Elk Bicycle Classic route over its 134 miles and takes you through awe-inspiring vistas. Drive around Blue Mesa Reservoir and up the north rim of the Black Canyon where towering aspen trees hover on the neighboring cliffs. The road heads north past reservoirs on the left and the West Elk Mountains on the right. Continue through the towns of Crawford and Hotchkiss to Paonia, which is a good spot for a pitstop. Head back up over Kebler Pass for the grand finale.

Recommended Stops: Black Canyon pulloffs, Paonia

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