On your way into Glenwood Springs, Interstate 70 traverses spectacular Glenwood Canyon, where about 12 miles east of Glenwood Springs, you’ll pass Hanging Lake. After exploring Glenwood Springs and soaking in the hot spring pools on Day One, on Day Two, you’ll be on your way to Carbondale and ultimately Redstone, in the Crystal River Valley, built to house workers who tended the coke ovens. After a day in Redstone, you’ll be traveling to the hub of marble mining in Colorado, and then on to Crested Butte. We’ve designed a stop in Crested Butte to allow you to spend the whole day exploring both the South and North rims of the Black Canyon. From there, it’s a short trip to Gunnison, the gateway to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, one of America’s least known treasures. After a stay in Crawford, to view the Black Canyon from the north side, you’ll be finishing up the Byway in Hotchkiss and Paonia. A portion of this Byway overlays Colorado’s Cultural Corridor.
It all started about 60 million years ago when some metamorphic rock was lifted up, only to be buried by two erupting volcanoes. About two million years ago, the Gunnison River found its way through a crack in the rock and Mother Nature began using the forces of wind and water to keep the crevice growing. Little by little the black rock gave way, creating the massive plunging vertical cliffs that are now the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Even though fewer people know about the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, it ranks right up there with America’s most famous parks. The steepest cliffs, oldest rock and craggiest spires host a sculpted vertical wilderness that is not to be missed. The South Rim is reached by traveling west on US Route 50 to Colorado Route 347, which takes you to the South Rim Visitor Center and 12 overlooks. Be sure to stop at Gunnison Point, Chasm View, Painted Wall and Sunset View. The Visitor Center is located at Gunnison Point.
Redstone is completely unique among Colorado mining towns. Before you arrive in town, you’ll see the historic coke ovens, used to refine coal into coke, on the west shoulder of Highway 133. The entire town was built by John Cleveland Osgood to deliver coking coal to his steel mill in Pueblo. In addition to the coke ovens, Osgood’s Redstone Castle that has now been converted into a luxury hotel is still standing, along with the Redstone Inn constructed to house the single men who manned the ovens.
Glenwood Springs Hot Springs Pool
Native Americans, the first visitors to Glenwood Springs, called it “Yampah,” meaning Big Medicine, due to the 15 minerals found in the water that relieve aches and pains. Other visitors have been arriving for more 130 years, to soak in hot highly concentrated mineral water that helps naturally eliminate toxins, increase circulation and reduce blood pressure. Today, you can still enjoy the world’s largest hot springs in this unique and historic destination for stress reduction.
Crested Butte Creative District
Completely intertwined in downtown Crested Butte, the Crested Butte Creative District encompasses the Center for the Arts, 16 artist-owned studios and galleries, three co-op galleries, 10 performance venues and a year-round schedule of creative events. It is a community identity that sets Crested Butte apart from other mountain towns.
Located on a 14-acre campus, the Pioneer Museum has created its own frontier town at the base the W Mountain. In this cultural jewel you can explore two frontier schools with their original furnishings, a red dairy barn and pole barn, a Denver and Rio Grande Narrow Gauge train engine and caboose at a railroad depot, a log cabin chapel, water tower, several cabins, the Odd Fellows lodge building, Gunnison’s first post office, 10 additional whole buildings filled with displays, outdoor displays on the south and east end of the grounds and the Andy Mallett Antique Car Museum with 55 vehicles.
Located at the top of Iron Mountain, the Historic Fairy Caves have been welcoming guests since the 1890s. Having homesteaded the property on which the cave entrance occurs, the Darrow family opened the cave to visitor in 1895. At that point, the cave was thought to be 800 feet, yet today, the entire of Glenwood Caverns extends more than 16,000 feet into the mountain. Unlike early visitors who walked up a trail, road a horse or took a horse-drawn carriage to the cave, you can get there in a gondola on the Iron Mountain Tramway.
Kebler Pass is a terrific high-mountain pass with a summit over 10,000 feet as it passes through Gunnison National Forest. Leading east from Highway 133 to Crested Butte, the area is home to one of the largest groves of aspen in the United States.
Curecanti National Recreation Area
Curecanti National Recreation Area is the gateway to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, the massive canyon it took the Gunnison River millenniums to carve out.
The Glenwood Springs Historical Society
The Glenwood Springs Historical Society has made it a mission to preserve the stories of gunslinger Doc Holliday, the Unsinkable Molly Brown, Buffalo Bill, President Teddy Roosevelt and more who have come to enjoy this appealing hot springs resort town. In addition to the main museum downtown, there is a satellite Doc Holliday collection at the former Glenwood Hotel. In addition, the annual Ghost Walk to the Linwood Cemetery that commemorates Doc Holliday is wildly popular.
Carbondale Public Art
Enjoy a delightful walk around town to view 20 permanent sculptures in downtown Carbondale, and 30 more Art Around Town locations, which change every year.
To experience all that the Circling Majestic Mountains tour has to offer, click below to purchase the complete itinerary! By purchasing this tour itinerary, you'll receive a professionally crafted trip route allowing you to fully experience the incredible story of the byway! Included in your trip planner is a detailed map of the area attractions in geographic order, a suggested day-by-day route plan, as well as traveler-tested recommendations for dining, shopping, and accommodations for each segment of this epic journey. Contact the National Travel Center with any additional questions.