Wednesday, January 26, 2011

crmbt - gunnison to buena vista

Today is going to be fun. Your ride takes you north out of Gunnison on CO 135 alongside the Taylor River.
But instead of a nice ride to Crested Butte, when you get to Almont you'll take County Road 742 and follow the river northeast all the way to Taylor Park Reservoir. It's a beautiful ride past ranches and campgrounds and trout fishing spots that will make you want to come back.
 When you reach the east side of the reservoir you'll turn east onto County Road 209, also known as Cottonwood Pass Road. This stretch of road on the west side of Cottonwood Pass is not paved. So, the first 35 miles you will have gained about 1700 feet on a paved 2-lane road. Now you have 13 miles on a dirt road to gain 2758 feet to the top of the pass. When you get to the top you'll  be in the rarified air of the Collegiate Peaks Range. Roughly between Mt Yale and Mt Princeton, two of Colorado's "14ers", more than 50 peaks of more than 14,000 feet. If you're climb to 12,126 feet isn't enough for you, come back and hike up some of these climbs.

On the east side of Cottonwood Pass you'll be on County Road 306, which is paved, and which loses 4180 feet in elevation over 20 miles. Should make for a great descent. If the weather gods can grant you one day of dry, mild conditions, this would be the day. The unpaved portion on the climb won't be bad if it's dry, and the descent will be so much more fun.

The end of your 69 miles will bring you into Buena Vista, in the high mountain desert of the Upper Arkansas River Valley. Grab a sandwich and shake at K's Dairy Delite and lounge along Cottonwood Creek in McPhelemy Park. You'll have earned a good night's rest, and you'll need it for a big century day tomorrow.


  1. Thanks for all the research, pictures and the write-ups...and dangling the carrot. I do enjoy them.

  2. Wow, you have some great shots yourself.....when you say a century you are talking miles too arent you!!! :-(