Saturday, January 22, 2011

hotchkiss to gunnison

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.

These pictures were taken on a ride through the canyon in 2008, and believe me they don't do it justice. I remember going around a bend on a long climb and hearing water. Looking to my right there was a waterfall right there in the rocks! You would never notice that in a car.

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.
And after a good day on the bike you'll be ready for a good night's sleep in the cool mountain air of Gunnison. You'll want to be well rested for tomorrow, it's gonna be big.


  1. I've ridden this route twice from the opposite direction. It's a unique road in that you wind around the side of the mountain more than going over a pass. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison is spectacular. The view going south should be better than going north as everything will be in front of you.
    You should enjoy this day!

  2. Sounds and looks like a great ride.