Gunnison to Crested Butte
The most colorful autumn route between Gunnison and Crested Butte is the Ohio Pass Road. Not the most direct, fastest or smoothest but without a doubt the most vibrant. North of Gunnison the road follows the Ohio Creek Valley – hay fields, cattle ranches and more recently built ranchette homes. Aged willows grow close to the creek. Stacks of large hay rolls promise feed for livestock during the coming winter. At approximately fifteen miles deserted, decaying structures are all that remains of Baldwin, once a company town for one of the region’s largest coal mines. Peaks of the West Elk Wilderness and The Castles – eroded volcanic remains – rise to the west. The further along the road we travel the thicker the aspen – area has been blessed an abundance of the quaking trees. At 10,076 –ft, Ohio Pass is not above timberline; near the top, dense growths of ferns carpet the forest floor. This is also a great drive during wildflower season.
**Photography Note –Sept. 20,2009 -In the hour we spent driving Ohio Pass Road this morning we had everything from thick low-hanging clouds, bright blue sky, rain and rainbows. There are a lot of aspen yet to change along this route.
- The Route – Drive north of Gunnison on CO135, after mile marker 3 watch for “Ohio Creek Road” signs, turn left (Forest Road 730). The road is 23.5 miles to the intersection with the Kebler Pass Road. the first eight miles are paved, the remainder gravel/dirt. Some sources list this as a jeep or 4WD road. I disagree, I believe it’s appropriate for automobiles except for extremely low clearance vehicles. (Drove this road 9/20/2009, saw no reason 4WD would be required.) Large RVs and boat trailers are not advised on the narrow portion near the top of the pass. At Kebler Pass Road, turn right on County Road 12 for the six mile drive into Crested Butte.