Day 3
Top of the Rockies - Independence Pass - Aspen - 
West Elk Loop - Gunnison


Leaving Dillon, we followed I-70 west to Colorado Highway 91, a part of the "Top of the Rockies" Scenic Byway.  Taking Highway 91 south to US-25 and continuing to Leadville, we stopped for breakfast. 

Afterward we followed US-25 south to Colorado Highway 82 west and "Independence Pass" at 12,095 feet.  From Highway 91 to Independence Pass, the road is lined with six over-14,000 foot mountains ("fourteeners" as the locals call them).  What a magnificent sight!  After stopping for lunch in Aspen, we continued north on Colorado 82 to Carbondale where we turned south on Colorado Highway 133, the "West Elk Loop".  

Colorado 133 winds its way south through the Maroon Bells and Snowmass Wilderness area over the McClure pass at 8,755 feet and on to Hotchkiss.  At Hotchkiss we joined Colorado Highway 92 as it wound its way along the nation's newest National Park, "Black Canyon of the Gunnison".  The steep canyon walls tower over the Gunnison River several thousand feet below.  Colorado 92 intersects with US-50 and we turn eastward to the Curecanti National Recreational Area and Blue Mesa Reservoir, and eventually into Gunnison for the night.  This route covered 270 miles.

Colorado 91 is a beautiful run through Fremont Pass, 11,318 feet.  Three "fourteeners" line the east side Colorado 91 as it winds its way south toward Leadville.

Leadville, an old mining town, is the highest incorporated city in the continental United States.  In its hey-day as a mining town it must have been a sight to see.  Today, it's a sleepy little town with refurbished buildings and small restaurants, saloons, and a hotel lining its main street.... not to mention fantastic views of fourteen thousand foot mountains both east and west.  Breakfast consisted of some of the best bagels we'd ever tasted.


Just south of Leadville, US-24 is intersected by Colorado Highway 82, Independence Pass.  Against the backdrop of towering mountains, Twin Lakes Reservoir welcomes you to Independence Pass Road.
As we rode toward the entrance to Independence Pass the rain clouds moved over the mountains.  Minutes later, and not a moment too soon, we were putting on rain gear.  It began to rain as we climbed through Independence Pass and rode down toward Aspen.
Home Thunder in the Rockies Previous Next