Today you'll head out of Hotchkiss at 5331 feet on CO 92 and head south through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison River on the West Elk Loop. With several beautiful climbs and descents in between, the day's ride ends in Gunnison at 7700 feet. You'll pass through Crawford and the Crawford State Park, as well as the small towns of Maher and Sapinero before passing the Blue Mesa Reservoir and the Curecanti National Recreation Area. But the highlight of the day will undoubtedly be the Black Canyon.
When you get out of the canyon and near the reservoir you'll be back on US 50 to Gunnison. Most of the climbing for the day will be done, but the road rises slightly to your destination. Riding along the water, which used to be the southern end of the canyon prior to the dams being built, offers some great views of the mesas rising out of the lake.