Monday, October 22, 2018

West Elk Loop Scenic Byway and Kebler Pass




Towards the end of September, my husband and I celebrated an anniversary by taking a sightseeing drive to Crested Butte, Colorado -- click here and here to read those posts.   While we were in that area we also took a drive on part of the West Elk Loop Scenic Byway, passing over Kebler Pass.  Last October, we drove over the West Elk Loop Scenic Byway from another area, beginning in Carbondale, Colorado. and passing through Redstone, Marble and over McClure Pass.  You can read that post hereThat part of the byway had such spectacular views!  This part of the byway began in Gunnison, passing through Crested Butte, and over the very rustic gravel road of Kebler Pass


(All photos in this post will enlarge if clicked on)


Above is a map showing the entire West Loop Scenic Byway, seen in the green circular line. The entire byway is 205 miles long and the suggested time to drive it in its entirety is eight to ten hours. The section of the loop that is Kebler Pass is only open seasonally and is usually closed November to April or May. The West Elk Loop derives its name from the West Elk Mountains, which the loop circumnavigates, and it passes by four diverse wilderness areas.


Determining when peak color occurs in autumn in Colorado can be a guessing game.  As you can see by the photo above, in late September in Crested Butte one tree was in full color while the one standing next to it is just beginning to turn. Usually, northern parts of the state and higher elevations begin to show color in mid-September, and then the color moves down the state and down in elevation until late October. Variables, such as rain or snow or bitter frosts can change the timing. We felt we might be a little early to see full peak color in the Crested Butte area, but we were pleasantly surprised to see quite a bit of it.

In fact, we saw many aspens in shades of yellow and orange and there were hardly any clouds in the sky on our drive.


Even in areas without much autumn color, the views were spectacular!


The aspen tree is a unique organism that produces clones from common root systems and reproduces rapidly to cover vast areas. The forest is made up of many thousands of clone colonies.


At times we drove right through the tall aspen groves...


...on the twisting and climbing gravel road over the pass.



They were the tallest aspens I ever saw!

Thick, thick groves of aspens to walk through...


...with carpets of golden aspen leaves under my feet.


Such tall aspens that only their upper branches still had leaves!


Aspens that almost looked as tall as the mountain!


The vast areas of wilderness along the West Elk Loop Scenic Byway also amazed me...


...as well as National Forests thick with pines and aspens as far as the eye could see.


Beautiful vistas...


...of golden aspens...


...majestic mountains...




A short video of the wind making the aspen trees quake and some of the scenery. To view on my Mille Fiori Favoriti facebook page, click here.


So although we did not completely drive the entire West Loop Scenic Byway, between last year and this year we did the majority of it and enjoyed every mile! It is particularly beautiful in autumn, and I'm so happy to have seen this part of Colorado.  Hopefully, we will be able to return many more times.  We made one more drive while in this area, to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park--come back next post to see our visit to this very unique canyon.


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44 comments:

handmade by amalia said...

Simply stunning.
Amalia
xo

Gillena Cox said...

Stunning photos. Happy mosaic Monday

much love...

eileeninmd said...

Hello,

Gorgeous views and I love the Aspens. Beautiful Autumn colors and the mountain views are just stunning. Lovely photos. Enjoy your day, have a great new week!

Maggie said...

Your photos this week have left me breathless, the aspens are stunning, the colours amazing and the fallen leaves look like gold sovereigns lying on the ground. Your National Forests are beautiful every season of the year.
Happy Mosaic Monday.

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

Colorado is beautiful anytime of the year but I think autumn is like jewels on a crown in its beauty

Екатерина Балагурова said...

Great views!

Adam Jones said...

Such beautiful scenery. I’d love to visit Colorado some day.

photodoug said...

Pat, our leaves are still if flux. Thanks for sharing.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

So envious --- beautiful photos of iconic Colorado beauty. We really have to figure out how to visit in the Fall again! It has been too long. You timed it exactly right. Thanks for sharing!!!

William Kendall said...

Gorgeous landscapes and fall colours!

Maggid said...

Triple Wowzer! Colorado looks like pure magic the way You share . . . Beautiful! Thanks.

Ann said...

The yellow of ASpen is just so beautiful. Wonderful as always.

Linda W. said...

Love all those golden aspens!

Tom said...

...wow, what a glorious part of the country, thanks for sharing these sights.

Janice Smith said...

These images are truly gorgeous. Thank you for sharing them with us.

Ruth Hiebert said...

Looks to me like your timing was perfect for amazing color. That blue sky just makes the yellow leaves pop.

ellen b. said...

The views are definitely spectacular!

Kalantikan said...

I fully agree, that even in areas without autumn colors the views are spectacular. I will not be able to see them in this lifetime so i thank you so much for this opportunity to at least experience the tour in photos. Your pictures are always spectacularly awesome.

Angie said...

Oh, Pat, these are such spectacular views. Aspens are truly amazing creations - how they grow in groups, the 'quaking', the variety of colors, the beautiful bark - I could go on! I love the splashes of gold up against the stark mountains - stunning!!! Thanks for sharing this glory with us.

Fun60 said...

Love this series of photos. The Fall colours are breathtaking.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Wow! Amazing autumn colours

Kelleyn Rothaermel said...

After your last couple of post, I feel like I need to hop on a plane to Colorado. Beautiful!

Lydia C. Lee said...

What a pretty drive!

Peabea Scribbles said...

So many shades of colors. Like the angle of the tall slender trees. Beautiful captures. Happy Anniversary.

Jeanna said...

You picked a great time to go, color wise. Loving the bottom to top shot of the tall aspens, I would have called them birch trees.

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

Nothing beats Colorados big blue skies accented by golden aspens. Thanks for linking to Blue Monday!

Regine Karpel said...

Love.

The Yankee Chef said...

And I thought Maine and New England were pretty in the fall.

Rue said...

It sure is gorgeous there. I love aspen trees. For the longest time I kept calling them birch trees, but I looked it up and they're not the same. Birch trees shed their bark. Just another one of those things I've learned in my old age ;)

xo,
rue

~ Dixie said...

So beautiful there! I love the mountains and the quivering aspens.

Mother of 3 said...

Wow those are some really amazing views! It's hard to figure out when the best fall leaf colors will bloom here too; usually it's around Columbus day weekend but this year it seems to be right now.

Jim said...

Beautiful autumn views.

Spare Parts and Pics said...

What a great road trip. Love those fall colors, and beautiful photos!

Michelle said...

Colorado is such a beautiful state. You are enjoying it to the fullest. Gorgeous pictures as always. Aspens are a favorite of mine. Thanks for linking up today!

Lady Fi said...

The colours and scenery are stunning!

Jill said...

This is one area of Colorado that I haven't been to so I've enjoyed seeing it through your eyes. Beautiful photos! You just can't beat those yellow Aspens!

passion fruit, paws and peonies said...

Wow these photos are absolutely stunning. I've been to America recently and the scale of your open spaces are breathtaking xx Maria

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

Nature certainly is beautiful and those golden aspen certainly did their part. Just beautiful.

Snap said...

The aspen make my heart sing. You should write a Colorado travel guide!

Joyful said...

Absolutely love all the scenic shots. The colours are just beautiful.

April J Harris said...

What fabulous photos! I so enjoyed this virtual visit to Colorado! Shared via your Facebook page (I've liked it and followed you on Instagram) to the Hearth and Soul Link Party FB page. Thank you for sharing, and for being a part of the Hearth and Soul Link Party. Hope you are having a great weekend!

Sharon Wagner said...

Wow! Epic gold on those hills.

Lowcarb team member said...

Goodness me, what a treat you've given us here :)
The scenery and the colours are just beautiful.

All the best Jan

Rambling Woods said...

Beautiful scenery..Michelle