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West Elk Loop Scenic Byway

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General Information

Redstone Coke Ovens, along the West Elk Scenic Byway
Copyright: Zander Higbie - Interactive Outdoors, Inc.
Redstone Coke Ovens, along the West Elk Scenic Byway
Description - The twin summits of Mount Sopris and the incomparable Black Canyon of the Gunnison anchor the ends of the West Elk Loop. This magnificent landscape has been home to uncounted generations of Native Americans, most recently the Utes. The West Elk Loop Byway travels through the mining, ranching and farming regions of the western slope. You'll enjoy picturesque vistas of lofty peaks, verdant valleys and rocky river gorges on this scenic byway.

Attractions - White settlers originally came in search of minerals and stayed to farm and ranch. The coke ovens at Redstone bear witness to the toil that built the communities of today. Carbondale, Hotchkiss, Crawford, Gunnison, Crested Butte and other towns offer a slice of Colorado's rich history, varied lifestyles and natural beauty. The route gives access to the White River and Gunnison National Forests, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument, Curecanti National Recreational Area and Crawford and Paonia State Parks.

For more information please call the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) at 800-999-4997.

This information is provided courtesy of CDOT.

Recreation - This, as all scenic byways, lends itself directly to scenic driving. Because the route takes users through the White River and Gunnison National Forests and passes the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument, it also provides access to a variety of other recreational pursuits. Hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, mountain biking, road biking, rock climbing, boating, fishing, camping and picnicking are some of the summertime activities accessible from this byway. Snowmobiling, snowshoeing, ice fishing, cross-country skiing and backcountry skiing provide wintertime entertainment in the region.

Climate - Climate conditions in Colorado should be taken seriously throughout the state. Snow and ice are common on roads and trails from mid-October through late April. In the summer months snow is still possible but less common. Varying conditions throughout a given day can be expected throughout the year. Remember that summer days can typically have beautiful sunny mornings and short sudden thunderstorms in the afternoon. Please prepare appropriately for your outdoor experience.

Location - This scenic byway is located in the southwestern section of the state. Its northern terminus is in Carbondale and southern terminus in Gunnison. It leads through the little-known areas of the Roaring Fork and Gunnison River drainages.

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More Information

Contact Information:
U.S. Forest Service, P.O. Box 309 , Carbondale, CO, 81623, Phone: 970-963-2266

Additional Information:
Colorado Scenic Byways - Driving through Colorado can be some of the most rewarding driving possible. The scenic byways deserve their name and are definitely worth the detour.

Scenic Byways Homepage - National Scenic Byways official web site with detailed info on all national and state byways.


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