After a quick stop at Monarch Pass, we approach the town of Gunnison. Gunnison, Colorado, is located 200 miles southwest from Denver and sits at an elevation of 7703 feet. Gunnison is home to Western State College. The economic base in the area is primarily tourism, education, and ranching.
As we drive through this western town, it’s obvious ranching is big business around here. Cowboy hats, jeans, large belt buckles, and boots are in abundance, but the surrounding area says it best. Ranches and cattle in the Gunnison valley can be seen in all directions. Some are absolutely gorgeous and my photography does not do it justice.
Hwy 50 travels through the center of Gunnison and this is where we pick up Highway 135 and head north to Crested Butte. First we stop for lunch where Al indulges in a tasty Buffalo burger at the Palisades Restaurant. Al and his hunting buddies would frequent this place when they used to hunt the Almont triangle.
After lunch, it’s back on the road for another 28 miles before arriving at our destination. Al and I take our time and admire the countryside and buildings. The valley is a combination of ranches and small subdivisions.
We haven’t decided where we’ll spend the night and, since it’s the week of the “Wildflower Festival“, we aren’t sure if we’ll find an open campsite. Prior to lunch in the town of Gunnison, we stop in at the U.S. Forest Service for some free maps and information. The young gal is polite and friendly. She gives us a map of the area and notes on the map potential boondock spots (i.e. dry camping, on your own, middle of no where, no facilities, you get the picture). Al and I look around and pick up additional free maps and brochures to aid in our adventure.
Could we have made a reservation at a campground? Of course, but then where’s the sense of adventure or freedom? The reservation would lock us in and what if we didn’t like the spot? No, traveling on a whim is how we like to fly these days. Or as Al likes to say, “flying by the seat of our pants”. 😉
“Are we there yet?”
Crested Butte, Colorado……this is probably my favorite mountain town. Unfortunately it’s been about ten years since we last visited Crested Butte and even then, we never had enough time to explore and do everything we wanted. We reacquaint ourselves with the town before continuing north toward Mt. Crested Butte.
Mt. Crested Butte is the name of the mountain most associated with this area, as well as the name of the community at the base of the ski slopes. This is the area with ski-in ski-out condos and hotel lodging. During this particular trip, we drive past the village and continue north on Gothic Road ready to explore the back country and find a campsite. Pavement quickly turns into gravel. Two lanes turns into a lane and a half. We are definitely venturing into the hinter land and it’s absolutely gorgeous.