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Scenic Drives near Gunnison County, CO

Looking for scenic drives that are also a bit dangerous? If so, our part of Colorado has just what you're looking for. Gunnison County has some of the most unique scenic drives in the states. We've listed a few of our favorites below. (Note that distances shown are from Marble, Colorado to make comparisons on Google Maps consistent.)
Kebler Pass

  •  Length: 33.0 miles
  • Distance from Marble: 51.1 miles

Kebler Pass (Country Road 12) is a two-lane mountain pass that connects Crested Butte, Colorado to Paonia, Colorado. It also serves as a shortcut to Aspen, Colorado. The summit is 10,007 feet. The road is primarily gravel, although it's paved at higher elevations. Most cars will have little trouble traveling along this route.

As the road runs through Gunnision National Forest, you'll see one of the largest aspen groves in Colorado. In the fall, this area lights up with color. You're also surrounded by the beauty of the West Elk Mountains and the Ruby Range.

All in all, Kebler Pass is one of the prettiest road trips you'll find in the country. Without stops, this 33-mile scenic drive takes about two hours to complete. Note that Kebler Pass is closed in the winter, typically, from mid-October until mid-June. However, during the winter, it is groomed for snowmobile travel.

Schofield Pass

  • Length: 15.0 miles
  • Distance from Marble: N/A

Schofield Pass is a mountain pass that runs through Colorado's Elk Mountains, connecting Crested Butte, Colorado to Marble, Colorado. It's the high point of Gothic Road, with an elevation of 10,722 feet.

This is considered the most dangerous pass in Colorado, and it has been the site of numerous fatal automobile accidents. (Most accidents occur in a section known as "The Devil's Punchbowl.") Needless to say, the route should only be driven by very experienced off-road drivers. Schofield Pass is only open for a couple of months in the late summer. Most of the year, it's closed due to snow or mud.

Much of the Schofield Pass route is accessible by automobiles with high clearance; however, the section that continues to Crystal Mill requires a 4WD vehicle. Again, this route should only be attempted by very experienced off-road drivers.

McClure Pass

  • Length: 49.6 miles
  • Distance from Marble: 9.7 miles

McClure Pass (State Highway 133) is an 8,770-foot high mountain pass that runs between Carbondale, Colorado and Somerset, Colorado. It is one of Colorado's steepest roads, with 8-9% grades in some areas on both sides of the pass. It also has a major switchback on the north end of the pass.

McClure Pass separates the Crystal River headwaters from Gunnison River's North Fork and provides scenic views of the surrounding countryside. McClure Pass is generally open year-round, although it may be temporarily closed at various times due to snowstorms.

West Elk Loop Byway

  • Length: 205 miles
  • Distance from Marble: Depends on access point

West Elk Loop Byway runs through the West Elk Mountains, connecting a number of mining communities and diverse wilderness areas. The route runs from Carbondale, Colorado and ends up near Crested Butte. Along the way, the route passes by a number of iconic Colorado towns, including Hotchkiss, Gunnison, and Crested Butte. You'll also have access to any number of scenic areas, such as the White River National Forest, Gunnison National Forest, the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park, and the Curecanti National Recreation Area.

In general, much of West Elk Loop Byway is open year-round; however, parts of it can be closed due to winter storms. A 31-mile section over Kebler Pass is always closed in winter.

Crystal Mill Road (County Road 3)

  • Length: 5.6 miles
  • Distance from Marble: N/A

Crystal Mill Road (CR 3) is the unpaved road that runs from Marble, Colorado to Crystal Mill (and Crystal Mountain Ranch). You definitely need a 4WD vehicle with high clearance for this drive. The road is narrow, rough, and dusty. It's typically open from June until October, although, the exact dates depend on the year's snowfall.

Crystal Mill Road winds through the Elk Mountains, roughly parallel to the Crystal River. It also passes by Lizard Lake and scenic aspen groves. The drive also features beautiful views of the Sawatch Range, Whitehouse Mountain, and, of course, Crystal Mill, one of the most photographed locations in the country.