Sunday, October 29, 2017

West Elk Loop Scenic Byway--Redstone, Marble and the McClure Pass


Colorado has spectacular scenic byways, and my husband and I have been fortunate to have been able to drive quite a few of them in the nearly five years we've lived here. When we were in the western part of the state, spending time away for our anniversary, we decided to take an autumn drive on CO highway 133, part of the West Elk Loop Scenic Byway, to see the historic towns of Marble and Redstone and to drive partially over McClure Pass.  If we wanted to drive the entire 204 miles of this scenic byway loop we would have continued on through different numbered roads all the way to Crested Butte, a total trip that would have taken an estimated six to eight hours of driving. 
We entered CO 133 at Carbondale, Colorado, with the magnificent view of Mount Sopris in the photo above.


Although Sopris' peak, at 12,965 feet (3,952 m) was already snow capped in early October, the foliage at its base was still changing into autumn color, so we were hopeful to see beautiful fall foliage along our drive.


We were not disappointed! The aspens and cottonwoods were changing into glorious shades of gold and orange, accented by red rock hills and green verdant forests.


There was beauty at every twist and turn of the road....


...and patchwork quilts of colorful trees sprinkled all over the high surrounding Elk Mountains.


The vistas were full of autumn color and we gasped and "oohed and ahhed" in awe as we drove along!


The entire West Elk Loop Scenic Byway is a two lane highway that passes through three designated wilderness areas and through thousands of acres of National Forests in a rural part of western Colorado. It had been home to countless generations of Ute Native Americans.  White settlers came to this area first in search of animal pelts and then in search of gold and minerals. Many stayed to farm and ranch.


We stopped to see the restored coke ovens in the town of Redstone

 Please click on to enlarge

Redstone was established by John Cleveland Osgood, a self made man who came west and founded the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company in 1887.  He built 249 coke ovens to turn coal into coke. The Crystal River railroad (now defunct) was constructed to facilitate coal for mines four miles away and to the coke foundries in Pueblo. They functioned for only about ten years when technology changed. Now on the National Historic Register of Historic Places, you can read more about the coke ovens and their restoration on this link.


The charming little town of Redstone is called the "Ruby of the Rockies," not only for its red rock canyon location, but because most of the town's original structures, built by Mr. Osgood to house the coal miners and coke workers, had indoor plumbing and electricity, which were luxuries at the time for mining camps, and lead to the nickname.  The large Redstone Inn, seen in the upper left corner of the photo above, was originally a dormitory for unmarried male miners. 


We continued on our way, driving along valleys of vast aspen forests and towering Elk Mountains.


We soon saw the sign for the turnoff to go towards the town of Marble.

 Please click on to enlarge

The tiny town of Marble is the home of Yule Marble quarry, first discovered in 1873, a pure white marble obtained from a mountain that is 9,300 feet high (2,800m).  The marble is so pure and luminous that it was used in the construction of the Lincoln Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknowns in Washington, DC, and the Equitable skyscraper in New York City, and the Colorado State Capital and City and County Building, as well as buildings in other states.  The quarry has gone through many "boom and bust" periods over the decades, due to the high price of the required high altitude mining process. It has been owned since 2010 by an Italian company based in Carrara, Italy.


Marble is located near the scenic Crystal River


As we drove close to the town the scenery was amazing!


In the small town of Marble we saw many art studios with marble sculptures outside, as well as the site where the old quarry factory once stood.  There were many pieces of marble lying along the road, but it is illegal to remove any marble from the area.


After leaving Marble we drove back to the West Elk Loop Scenic Byway where we climbed a portion of McClure Pass towards the summit.  The pass is usually open year round, except when there is a heavy snowstorm.  At a summit elevation of 8,755 feet (2,671 m) it is not especially high, but it is very steep, with 8% and 9% grades.  Before it was improved in 1947, McClure pass was a rough cattle road and before that a path the Ute Native Americans used to transverse the valleys.


We stopped at the summit at a roadside pull out to take photos of the Elk Mountains in the distance.


The autumn foliage and play of light from the sun behind the clouds made the mountains change colors in a beautiful show.


The views were outstanding!



So many aspen trees!


I took many, many photos, and could have stayed there all day just to soak in all the beauty!


If we continued on over McClure Pass we would have entered the town of Paonia, Colorado.


Instead, we turned around and went back to the Redstone area, and then back to Glenwood Springs, as we had dinner reservations that evening.  We thoroughly enjoyed the section of the Elk Loop Scenic Byway that we traveled, and the historic towns we saw, and the spectacular views from McClure Pass.


I know this post is already long, but I wanted to show a little of Hotel Colorado where we stayed in Glenwood Springs.  It was opened in 1893 and retains much of its old time charm. 

Please click on to enlarge

One interesting legend of the hotel is that President Theodore Roosevelt stayed in the hotel during a hunting expedition in the area. He was unsuccessful and the hotel maids made a stuffed bear for him as a consolation gift--the first 'Teddy Bear"! There was a display case near the hotel coffee and gift shop filled with teddy bear memorabilia.


Glenwood Springs is famous for its giant hot springs pool, as seen in the upper left of the photo collage above.  We went to the relatively new Iron Mountain Hot Springs, which consists of 16 mineral hot springs pools and a freshwater family pool with a jetted spa located next to the Colorado river. You can see a diagram of the pools in the collage.  The temperature of the water ranged from 98 degree Fahrenheit to 107 degree Fahrenheit.  It was the perfect way to relax for a day!   

I hope you enjoyed seeing our 43rd anniversary trip that we made this year to Glenwood Springs, and our visits that I blogged about this month to the very scenic Maroon Bells and the Aspen Snowmass Wilderness, Rifle Falls State Park,  Hanging Lake and Spouting Rock, and now the Elk Scenic Byway.  We feel blessed to live in this beautiful state and be able to enjoy all it has to offer!

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44 comments:

Linda W. said...

Wow, what amazing scenery! Love all the spectacular fall colors.

Denise inVA said...

Stunning scenery Pat and it was fun learning about these interesting places. Thank you :)

Lady Fi said...

So spectacular and beautiful!

Gillena Cox said...

Impressive!!!
Happy Mosaic Monday

much love...

eileeninmd said...

Hello Pat, what a gorgeous drive and road trip! The mountain scenery and trees are just beautiful. Lovely collection of photos. Happy Monday, enjoy your day and new week ahead!

podso said...

It's hard to believe you've lived there five years now. How quickly time passes. Your photos are spectacular. Such beauty!

From the Kitchen said...

Breathtaking! What a lovely area at a spectacular time of year. Thanks for sharing.

Best,
Bonnie

Maggie said...

Colorado's Scenic Byways are absolutely stunning, what a beautiful state you live in! I loved seeing all the wonderful fall colours, the mountains are breathtaking and Glenwood Springs is delightful. I would really enjoy a stay at the Hotel Colorado and soak up some of the amazing history in Marble, how proud the inhabitants must be of their world famous product.
Your 43rd anniversary celebrations have been a treat to read about, how will you ever top them for your 44th?
Happy Mosaic Monday.

Lorrie said...

Your post is just one beautiful view after another. Sopris Mountain with her snowcap on and a frill of yellow at her base is majestic. I liked seeing the lake with the beaver dam smack dab in the center, too. Wonderful history and views combined!

ellen b. said...

So much beauty to enjoy. Love that Ruby of the Rockies town. The history is fascinating, too. The coke ovens, wow. Hope you have a good week.

Vee said...

My daughter and I have enjoyed looking at your post together. (This led her to check on Mt. Washington. No snow up there! Saturday will change that.) You always share the most beautiful scenery...truly spectacular and the colors are amazing.

NC Sue said...

Positively breath-taking!
Thanks so much for sharing at http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2017/10/seasonal-fun-at-duke-homestead-in.html

Small City Scenes said...

What's not to like about mountain travel-----my favorite
MB

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

Gorgeous! I just kept saying wow photo after photo.

Tom said...

...Pat, I can see why you traded New York City for Colorado! Those Aspens sure put on a show. Thanks for stopping by!

Ruth Hiebert said...

Amazing scenes and always those majestic mountains in the background. I love the mountains.

Al said...

Those are fabulous shots. You've motivated me to get out there next autumn.

jeannettestgermain said...

Stunning beauty Pat! If I wouldn't live in California, it would be Colorado:) Does your photo after that one of the Inn the famous twin peaks from the side? It must be much colder than here, if the tops are already showing snow. Many thanks for sharing your trip with All Seasons! Have a lovely week:)

The Furry Gnome said...

Spectacular pictures of spectacular scenery!

Angie said...

Pat - I "oohed and aahed" through this whole post. If I had to choose favorites, it would be the shots of Marble - the beaver lodge picture and the one just below it. Dazzling. Thanks for the thorough tour, as always!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

i'm thinking of canceling the trip we have planned for our upcoming anniversary and doing the one you did instead! (Just kidding, but for another year..... this one absolutely sounds wonderful!!!) Perfect Colorado, perfect trip!!

Rajesh said...

Very beautiful and scenic.Love the color combination in the landscape.

Joyful said...

I've never been to Colorado and I absolutely love seeing it through your lens. It has so much spectacular beauty.

Linda said...

Marvelous scenery! Interesting about the coke ovens.

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

What a beautiful drive. I miss the mountains in the Fall with all the color and the cold crisp air. Well maybe next year, meanwhile I will have to depend on you!!

Rajlakshmi said...

wow the fall colors look absolutely stunning. The drive must be amazing :D

Ruth Rieckehoff said...

What an excellent area for a road trip! I try to read as much as possible about places to visit in nearby states but it is the first time I hear about these towns. I wasn't expecting actual marble to be found in the town of Marble. The fall colors are incredible!

Amy Johnson said...

Wow! Stunning. Colorado is one of the most beautiful states in America. We've been to Glenwood Springs on one of our Colorado vacations, but I wish I would have known about this road then. I would have had hubby make a detour.

Kay L. Davies said...

I love your photos. I had been hoping to visit a friend in eastern Canada to share the fall colours, but household matters arose and consumed my savings.
So I'm particularly glad to see that magnificent scenery through your lens. I even thought I spotted a beaver dam in the middle of the water in one of your photos.
Kay
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

AnnMarie aka Vintage Junkie aka NaNa said...

Looks like I need to head out to Colorado next Fall for some breathtaking scenery!! The sky is so blue! We didn't get much color here in Upstate NY, even in our most colorful areas. Too warm. Glad you had a chance to see all of that gorgeous scenery.

Tanna said...

Oh, Pat! We just got back from Marble! We were visiting friends for a week and just soaked in all the beauty!! Wish we could have crossed paths and enjoyed a visit! blessings ~ tanna

Kelleyn Rothaermel said...

Wow! Lovely, Thanks for sharing!

Jeanie said...

Simply stunning. It takes my breath away.

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

I love these autumn photos! Thanks for linking to Blue Monday.

Michelle said...

Colorado is such a gorgeous state. I love how you are enjoying all of it! The men of the house were in the northwest part of the state a couple of weeks ago. Elk hunting/hiking/and sleeping in tents about froze them to death!

Lowcarb team member said...

What a truly amazing post.
The scenery is simply majestic!
The colours of Autumn are everywhere, such beauty.

Have a wonderful month of November.
My good wishes

All the best Jan

Mother of 3 said...

Such spectacular scenery! I live in New England so we often see the colors and even some small mountains but nothing like this.

Marilyn @ MountainTopSpice said...

You went to visit this area at the most amazing time of the year! Your pictures are all spectacular, and many of them frame worthy! Love the majestic bluish purple peaks of the mountains overshadowing the lush vibrant colors of the forests below. Marble is a gorgeous town, what an amazing shot you got there of the mountain and the lake! I always enjoy the history that you share too, and I had no idea that is where teddy bears came from, but very fun information! Always enjoy your posts, like you, we are blessed to live in areas with such vibrant colors and seasons!

Jann Olson said...

You get out and see so many gorgeous sights! Thanks for sharing with SYC.
hugs,
Jann

Judy Biggerstaff said...

Gorgeous photos. What a spectacular drive in Colorado. Thanks for sharing your drive with us.

handmade by amalia said...

You always take us to the nicest places, Pat, and this weather makes any outing even more enjoyable.
Amalia
xo

Cheryl @ TFD said...

Hi Pat, you have some truly stunning photos from your trip. I have never thought about moving to another state until you started showing us your photos of beautiful Colorado. Even though we've been to CO a couple of times and knew first hand how gorgeous it is there, your photos are just spectacular! They should be in a travel guide. It makes me want to live there and see all the sights for myself. It's hard to believe you've been there 5 years now. I remember when you moved there and hoping you would like it as it was a huge change from NYC. Have a nice week! x Cheryl

diane b said...

They sure are breathtaking views. It must be like driving through a wonderland. How lucky you are to live in thet beautiful state.

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Just spectacular. Mother Nature sure put on a show for you with those beautiful aspen trees and majestic mountains.