Fall is an amazingly beautiful time of year, as this stylized photo taken last year clearly shows. Every year I receive many phone calls this time of year asking about the Fall foliage and my prediction to when it will peak. This year, starting as soon as May the weather patterns were obviously ahead of what we consider a normal schedule. Due to the lack of snowpack, melting was in a rush and sped up the process of everything in the Valley. Which creates good and bad, trails opened up sooner but the wildflowers came and went much faster than normal. River flows have been the talk of the town. Fortunately hunting does not seem to be effected, which is great for all our hunter clients. However the cooler temps, especially in the night time and added moisture has sped up the schedule of the turning of the leaves. Normally the Aspen’s seem to climax or peak around September 25-27th and for this year I am predicting it will be closer to the 20th. With that said, I am no climatologist but it is very obvious that global warming is happening and affecting our weather patterns.
Schofield Pass sits within the Sawatch Range of the Elk Mountains between Crested Butte and Aspen. The pass tops out at an elevation of 10,707 between the town sites of Gothic and Marble. Once the snow melts, many of our renters travel what we call the big loop which encompasses Slate River Road, Paradise Divide, Paradise Basin, Schofield Pass and ending with the town site of Gothic before heading back to Crested Butte. Timing wise this usually puts you back in town for a late lunch or to re-supply before heading back out for more off-road adventures.
Schofield Pass continues beyond the point imaged in the photo, where a large sign warns drivers of the ensuing danger of The Devil’s Punchbowl. For safety purposes our vehicles do Not go beyond this point.
This area is world renowned for its wildflowers and there is a reason why we have an entire festival dedicated to the flowers. If you’ve ever dreamed of being surrounded by wildflowers in a high alpine meadow, like in the movie ‘Sound of Music,’ then this is your spot! Hikers have many options to choose from as well, if it’s the infamous 401 trail, hiking to Judd Falls, the 403 trail, Rustlers Gulch, Deer Creek, Copper Trail, the many offerings in the Snodgrass area or even the West Maroon Creek Trail to Aspen.
Roughly six miles south out of Crested Butte is Cement Creek Road, which accesses Crested Butte South. Cement Creek is a dirt road, providing miles of fun Jeeping, especially this time of year when we are waiting for the snow to fully melt. I enjoyed a quick adventure up the road yesterday, easily making it to the beaver pond meadow. The road becomes very narrow (as seen in the photo below) so you’ll want to go slow as there are many blind corners and oncoming traffic.
This route also accesses the Reno Divide Pass trail, which is a common route for those on multi-day rentals. Customers are more and more renting for their entire trip length and as we have multiple zones of adventure we can keep them busy the entire time during the summer and fall. In May we are still poking around, but there is a lot of fun to be had in paradise any time of year.
Late Spring and Early Summer are a great time to go visit the Black Canyon in the Gunnison National Forest. The East Portal is an amazing access point to reach the lower depths of the large canyon and Gunnison River. Many people have never heard of it, but the Black Canyon is second only to the Grand Canyon in beauty, size and its unique black colored rocks are quite special. Recently I took my mother down there and she absolutely loved it! I recommend driving down the extremely steep and narrow East Portal road. The Ranger’s regulate the size of the vehicle you use on this tight passage, so a Jeep is the perfect tool to safely enjoy the experience and bucket list worthy views. I also recommend visiting the walkway around the rim and visitor center. Below is a link, ranking it the 2nd “Underrated U.S. National Parks to Add to Your Bucket List.”
Customer’s often ask when will the leaves turn or be at their peak and I usually say the climax is around September 25th to the 27th. However, not this year! With cooling temps and the added moisture that the Fall brings, this year it’s already happening. The leaves are turning, the landscape/view is turning surreal and there’s a certain chill to the air. Personally I love wearing sweaters in the morning, but not for long as the powerful sun clears out the valley floor and brings warmth to us all. If fewer crowds and epic views are what you yearn for, then we surely have your fix.
I have many clients who enjoy year after year renting my jeeps with the companionship of their four legged friend. Personally I love dogs and boy do dogs love an adventure! Here are a few photos from one of my clients; you can see the dog is clearly smiling awaiting the fun. Jeeps also provide you with the added off-road access, so one of the fun things to do is bring your dog up to the snow and see them play. I’ll never forget how happy my first dog was when I brought him to snow in August. He totally freaked out and rolled in it for what seemed to be endlessly.
The Slate River Road provides access to the Oh-Be-Joyful zone, which is a very popular camping area. There is a regulated and paid campground of Oh-Be-Joyful, but having rented a specialized Jeep, you have the access to drive further down the valley. The further you go from the town of Crested Butte, the quieter, more peaceful and beautiful it gets. Drive past the town site of Pittsburgh and Daisy Pass, you will find an elevated mesa if you will which hosts many designated campsites which include fire pits. Our specialized Jeeps easily provide access to camp in this beautiful playground and much more.
The quality of our fleet of specialized Jeeps, excellent customer service, honesty and knowledgeable local information are at the core of who we are and what we offer. Over the past off-season we have updated our fleet, with all our Jeeps being of the newer JK series with between 2” to 4” of lift and 34” to 35” high quality off-road tires. This also increases the availability of the larger and more comfortable 4 door size, which seats 5 people and has a large trunk for coolers, gear, etc.
The new office in Gunnison will provide a nice clean space to offer the highest level of customer service. There is a reason why we have a 99% customer satisfaction and that is mainly due to that we care. We give you the right equipment, know-how and instruction to provide you and your group with a self-guided mountain Jeep safari. So if you are looking for auto rentals in Gunnison, please give us a call at 1-844-YOU-RENT.
One of the more quiet and peaceful adventures in our zone, the West Brush Creek and Pearl Pass Roads trails provide hours of quality Jeeping. Starting only a few miles out of the Town of Crested Butte, Colorado the pavement ends at the private airport and neighborhood Buckhorn Ranch. Motoring on the dirt road, it is important to keep an eye out for bicyclists, cows and nice old friendly ranchers and their wiry dogs. A few miles back you come to a sign and turn-off as shown on the photo. West Brush Creek Road is to the left. Start here and take the next left about a mile past these signs for a dead-end scenic overlook. This is a great spot to walk out to the ridge and take a few photos. The gate keeps vehicles from continuing into the wilderness area. So turn around and continue North or left on the West Brush Creek Road. It is recommended to turn on the 4WD in the high setting until you reach the flats towards the end of the trip. This will aid you as you cross the creek and gain in elevation and other hazards. There is a large mud hole towards the top 1/3 of the trail. I tell people to take it on the left and stay out of the large potholes. Once you come to the end of the road, stop and let the vehicle cool down and don’t forget to smell the roses! This trail provides access to an amazingly beautiful overlook underneath the Teocalli Mountain, so get out and take some photos.
After a break, turn around back to the turn off in the photo. Take a left onto Pearl Pass Road and go slow as soon you will be on an overhang with no room to turn around. This section mandates concentration, focus and a cool head. Luckily it doesn’t last long and after a deep (at times) creek crossing you’re cruising again. This section is a scenic stretch of beaver ponds, fishing holes and world class single-track trails.
To keep our customers and Jeeps safe, we allow customers up until the third creek crossing. This keeps it simple, the first two creeks are ok to cross if the water levels are low and you have our permission at the time of pickup. This way we all have the current trail conditions to help make better decisions and route finding. In no way are our Jeeps to attempt to cross the third creek!
All of our renters are given a map, detailed instructions and current trail conditions to best serve our customers and keep everyone safe.
Almost weekly we have customers travel to the famous Crystal Mill from Crested Butte. Providing our customers with maps and local information allows us to safely access the Mill from the Western side. Starting with a nice scenic tour to the town of Marble, the fun quickly bumps up right outside of Town. For this rocky and tight Jeep trail follows the Crystal Creek up to the Mill and Ghost Town. Visitors enjoy this famous landmark, which is ranked as one of the most photographed landscape in all of Colorado. In this photo you can see it was a muddy day, but as usually our Jeeps are well equipped to handle the trail which additional clearance is needed to safely navigate. After stretching the legs and walking around Town, most people head back down to the Town of Marble for some of the best BBQ in Colorado. Slow Grooving BBQ is one of my favorite restaurants in Western Colorado. On the way back to CB, it is advised to drive slow on Kebler Pass as the wildlife are very active this time of evening, making for an opportunity to see a variety of wildlife before entering back into Crested Butte.