Since I moved to Colorado 5 years ago, Crested Butte and the Gunnison Valley has quickly become my favorite area of the state. I’ve had some incredible days here the past couple of summers (and winters!) but as I thought about what I wanted to do this summer, I realized I’ve barely scratched the surface. Previous injuries have prohibited me from enjoying The Home of Mountain Biking on a bike, but they won’t stop me from tackling the items on my summer bucket list.
West Elk Loop Drive
This is one of the best scenic drives in the state… weaving through the aspens on Kebler Pass and past the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. I’ve driven parts of it, but this summer I’d like to complete the loop and stop off in areas that I missed. Touring the Yule Marble Quarry in the town of Marble is on the list. This quarry became the largest of its kind in the world in the early 1900s and marble was sourced here for the Lincoln Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (who doesn’t love a good history lesson?!).
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
With easy access from the West Elk Loop drive, this canyon that was carved by the Gunnison River starting about 30 million years ago is a must-see. At its narrowest point, it’s a mere 40 feet wide at the river and its steepest part in the Black, the river drops 240 feet per mile. I’ll be sure to stop by the South Rim Visitor center to view a short film about the history of the canyon and then I’ll hike along the North or South Rim.
Fly Fishing in Gunnison
I grew up fishing in the ocean (technically, it was the Long Island Sound), but surprisingly I have yet to pick up fly fishing in Colorado. This is the summer. Daniel recommends a few areas on the lower-Gunnison River: Neversink, Beaver Creek, and Wilson’s Landing. I’ll have to save this for late summer which is when Daniel says a hatch can be particularly rewarding. Since I will be a true beginner, I’ll definitely be finding a guide to help me navigate the area.
Wildflower Hike in Crested Butte
Dubbed the Wildflower Capital of Colorado by the state legislature in 1990, Crested Butte offers the most stunning and diverse wildflowers. The must-do trail on my list for this summer is the 403. The 4-mile trail climbs up over 11,300 feet and offers impressive views of the Elk Mountains, along with an abundance of flowers. It connects Washington Gulch to Gothic and I can choose an out-and-back hike or I can start at the Washington Gulch Trailhead and shuttle a car to the other side in Gothic. Stop and smell the roses, right? Or maybe the lupines. (Editor’s Note: For truly spectacular wild roses, head to the Caves Trail off Cement Creek Road or over to Spring Creek Road off the Taylor Canyon.)
Tito’s Blue Mesa Beach Bash
This one might be cheating since I attended the first Beach Bash last summer, but I couldn’t resist! I’ll camp with my friends along the Blue Mesa Reservoir (the largest body of water in Colorado), wake up on Saturday, August 26th and paddle over to the best Stand Up Paddleboard event in Colorado. SUP yoga, races, golf, clinics and more will fill my day. Plus, food, drinks and live music are included – 3 of my favorite things.