Shaped like a lasso that’s been dropped on Colorado’s pristine West Elk Mountains, the West Elk Loop Scenic and Historic Byway unites three very different mining communities, gets within arm’s reach of four diverse wilderness areas and meanders through the Gunnison Country mountain towns of Marble, Gunnison and Crested Butte.
The twin summits of Mount Sopris and the incomparable Black Canyon of the Gunnison anchor the ends of the West Elk Loop. This magnificent landscape has been home to uncounted generations of Native Americans, most recently the Utes. White settlers originally came in search of minerals and stayed to farm and ranch.
The coke ovens at Redstone bear witness to the toil that built the communities of today. Carbondale, Hotchkiss, Crawford, Gunnison, Crested Butte and other towns offer a slice of Colorado’s rich history, varied lifestyles and natural beauty. The route gives access to the White River and Gunnison National Forests, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Curecanti National Recreational Area, and Crawford and Paonia State Parks.