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My Visit to Mountains to Gunnison, CO


Drove 157 miles in 5-1/4 hours

91 degrees when we left, 65 at the top of the mountain, down to 75 when we got to Gunnison.

We traveled south almost back to where we started in Montrose but we wanted to go a different way than what the GPS did, so we got on the Grand Mesa Scenic Byway, aka route 65 to the West Elk Loop, route 92. THIS ROAD WAS WORSE THAN THE MILLION DOLLAR HIGHWAY!!! And 100 miles longer.

We drove through Mesa, home of the Two Blink Coffee Co., so named because if you blink twice you miss the whole town which consists of one block. One store sells ice, pop, hunting/fishing licenses, guns, picnic supplies, and Mexican food. There’s one liquor store, 1 church, 1 restaurant/hotel/laundromat, and one closed real estate office.

Up and down mountains, around bends with no guardrail, almost driving on prairie dog toes because they stand on the side of the road and dare you to hit them. Up, up, up to Powderhorn ski area, where a sign warns of “Avalanche Blasting Any Time” gorgeous scenery, better than any of the roads we’ve been on before, but also crazier.

We stopped at a scenic overlook and got attacked by mosquitos, even at 10,000’. This is where Harry said, “ I can easily see someone sailing off these cliffs”-YIKES!!! The top seemed to be 10,839’ where the temperature was down to 65. Huge pine trees with snow underneath lined both sides of the road. I can only imagine how much snow was here in the winter.

At the top was Mesa Lakes, a group of many lakes, the biggest Island Lake, with fishermen and some boaters out on a Saturday. Quite a few bicyclists peddling like mad to get up the mountain. Our water bottles have expanded and contracted over and over again, not to mention our ears. Down the mountain to Cedaredge, then Orchard City where we started seeing more farms and sprawling cattle and horse ranches.

Drove over the Gunnison River to route 92 where the GPS again tried to get us to change our minds and go back to route 50, an easy drive. Took us about a mile to realize we wanted to go the other way and we turned around. How much worse could it be? Silly us. We stopped in Hotchkiss under a big shade tree for lunch, then continued on. This leg of the Byway is called the West Elk Loop.

We had about 10 miles of nice straight road and then BAM!, right back into the crazy twists, turns, up and downs, more treacherous than the first part of the day. We passed through Crawford, lots of cannabis growers here, then Crawford State Park with lots of boaters on the Gould Reservoir. Started to see lightning up ahead in the mountains and over huge, deep canyons but there are so many twists and turns that we couldn’t figure out whether or not we’d be driving right into it.

Drove through forests of white-barked trees which I think are aspens. The Curecanti National Recreation is huge, as is Blue Mesa Reservoir which goes on for miles and miles after a big dam, probably 20 miles to our campground and it’s still going on after the campground which is right across the street from it. We have a wonderful view of the reservoir, but we are in the middle of nowhere, no cell service, no internet, nothing but beautiful big aspen trees.

Harry is finished with the Rockies, YAY!!!! We decided to change our itinerary and leave the Rocky Mountains. But we’re both too road-weary to look at maps and campground books to do anything about it tonight. We watched the robins right outside the RV getting really lucky and eating worms.

They seem to be very plentiful, the worms and the robins. The rain never got here but it’s much cooler and supposed to go down to 47 tonight. That will be a big relief from the 100 degrees we just left.

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