I usually try to make it up to Crested Butte annually, timing my visit for right after the Wildflower Festival in July. This year, the festival was held from July 8 – 17th, so I showed up on the 21st. Why do I do this you ask? I don’t like crowds. It’s a long day trip for me, and sometimes I like to spend the night in Almont, about 20 miles south of Crested Butte, where there is a neat summer camp like place called Three Rivers Resort. This year we decided just to go up for the day.
The thing about Crested Butte is, that really, if you plan to go there, you’re going there. You’re not stopping by on your way to someplace else, unless your destination happens to be Gothic, Colorado which is officially known as a ghost town, but is actually the home of The Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, where scientists and students spend the summer in old log cabins and study things like botany, geology, and the general ecosystem. Talk about a cool summer camp!
Crested Butte is worth going out of your way for though, as it is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places on the planet. I think you’d be hard pressed to visit CB and not come away without at least one gorgeous photograph of the place. Beauty is everywhere, so point your camera in any direction!
Before heading up Gothic Road, our destination for this trip, we stopped in CB for lunch. The most highly rated restaurant in CB, according to TripAdvisor, is The Secret Stash, a pizza place on Elk Avenue, but we didn’t go there of course. Instead, we walked a couple blocks west down Elk Avenue until we found an inviting lunch stop, which we found with A Daily Dose. There are a few coffee houses on Elk Avenue, and this is like a coffee house, but it also serves food. We each had a turkey sandwich on a small baguette, which came with Doritos on the side. We each also picked up a small can of ginger ale to go with it, one of those half-cans, which really wasn’t enough to wet your whistle between bites, but they didn’t have any full cans for sale. Fortunately, they did have a couple water pitchers available with glasses alongside, which they offered at no cost. Our bill for this gourmet meal was $35.00. We ate in silence and stared at the walls, which were fairly interesting. Next time I think we’ll just stop at The Secret Stash and call it good.
After lunch, we took a drive up beautiful Gothic Road. We stopped at the first parking lot, or pull off we could find, which is a place where people can park their cars if they are planning to tent camp in the gorgeous wildflower meadow that tumbles downhill and into a valley. Now I’m not a camper, but I was thinking I would be willing to camp here, at least for an afternoon. This camping is free, but as some people online have pointed out, there is no shade cover anywhere, and there are rumored to be many snakes, so there’s that. But it certainly makes for a nice picture anyway! No dogs, no campfires, and you can’t camp in your car in the parking lot.
Continuing up Gothic Road, I took way too many pictures. I saved a fair number of them too. The place is so beautiful that it’s difficult to narrow down the pictures to show from this location. Suffice it to say, I have more than enough for this year. Most of my photos are taken in landscape orientation, but occasionally I shoot vertically. Since I have so many, I decided to show a vertical shot, just because it’s different. I do like the composition on this one as well. Everything in the image fills up my senses, like an afternoon in the forest. (Thanks John!) It’s almost hard to believe how green everything is up there this time of year, and the lushness of the fields of mountain wildflowers.
This old log cabin/homestead is just too good to pass up, what with the emerald green of the surroundings and the S-curve The East River makes flowing past.
And then? Welcome to beautiful downtown Gothic, Colorado. This old ghost town was purchased by Dr. John Johnson, who then refurbished what old buildings he could, cleared away what couldn’t be restored, built some new buildings, and turned it into The Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory.
This trip, we went a bit further up Gothic Road than we had ever gone before. The road does get rougher, steeper, and narrower, but it’s not impassable. It’s probably best if you have 4WD, or at least a high-profile vehicle, but we did see several Honda’s, Subaru’s, and the like up there, along with the requisite Jeeps and 4Runners. We made it all the way to Emerald Lake this time. Actually, a bit further, but we turned around when we could do it safely and returned to Emerald Lake. This photo looking down on the lake was taken from a narrow road that runs past the lake, but at a higher elevation. We had to drive a little way to find a decent spot to turn around, but we did turn around and go back.
Emerald Lake is a true high mountain, alpine lake that sits at about 11,000+ feet. You can paddle an SUP, a kayak, or a canoe around this small tarn. Next time, I’ll bring my kayak for sure! The lake is the result of ice and snow melting and running downhill from the cirque above. You can see the natural trails created by the melting ice and snow as it makes its way down. I didn’t jump in the lake, but I imagine it’s got a glacial temperature, so plan accordingly!
There are many places in Colorado where you can see this astonishing, multi-colored rock. I’m not a geologist, but I’m guessing this is a result of iron in the rocks. A quick look through my Roadside Geology of Colorado book tells me that there is iron found in them thar hills, along with other minerals, such as silver and gold. Lots of mining took place here in the mid to late 1800’s and continues in some nearby areas. This is part of the San Juan Mountain Range, which was created by and subject to volcanism way “back in the day.”
I’ve never been to Ireland, but I’ve always wanted to go. My husband flew over Ireland as a kid, on his way to spend a year living in England on an Air Force base there. He said as they were flying over Ireland, the clouds parted, and he was amazed by the green of the island they were flying over. I doubt if it was any greener than the peaks and valleys around Crested Butte in July. How could it be? This is as green as it gets.
This vertical shot reminds me of similar scenes I’ve seen a little closer to home in Colorado, on The Grand Mesa, for instance. I’m fortunate to have easy access to such beauty, and it only takes me about 45 minutes to get from my driveway to scenes like this on The Grand Mesa. This is Crested Butte, but it could be anywhere in The Rocky Mountains. So much beauty! ‘Tis a blessing to live in Colorado.
This meander of The East River through the valley north of Crested Butte is an incredible and beautiful sight to behold. The East River starts in Emerald Lake, and flows south to Almont, where it merges with The Taylor River right next to The Three Rivers Resort, I referred to at the opening of this story. People mostly fish in this river, but some people do river rafting as well. The areas of The East River where there are rapids, however, are known for Class IV rapids. The Taylor River meets up with The Gunnison a little further downstream, and The Gunnison meets up with The Colorado River just south of my home in Grand Junction.
For more information about booking a room, a raft or a fishing trip, you can contact www.3riversresort.com