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Gunnison to Blanding, UT

Adirondack, New York
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Gunnison to Blanding, UT

In July 2010 after 3 nights/2 full days in Gunnison I'm planning to drive to Blanding, UT. First I need to take rt. 50 west to Montrose with a brief stop (2-3 hours) at Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP. What short hike is recommended for a hot day in July?

From Montrose maybe I should take rt. 550 south to 62 and then what routes to take to Blanding, UT? In July 2008 I drove from Durango to Grand Junction

I'm looking for the most scenic routes. The main reason for my visit to Gunnison/Crested Butte are scenery and wildflowers so I would love to find areas with breathtaking vistas and plethora of wildflowers on the way from Gunnison to Blanding, UT

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WestSlope,CO
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1. Re: Gunnison to Blanding, UT

Since you've already driven the Durango-Ouray route, my advice would be to go to Ridgway, Telluride, Rico, Dolores, then Dove Creek, Monticello and Blanding.

At the Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP, take the south rim drive. You will find several short walks/hikes to overlooks and you will have time to do a few of those. According to the NPS, "The South Rim Drive is 7 miles from Tomichi Point to High Point, and has 12 overlooks. Most are reached by walking a short trail. Allow 2-3 hours to view several overlooks. Those with limited time should consider stopping at Gunnison Point, Chasm View, Painted Wall and Sunset View." If you want to do a bit more hiking, look at the south rim trails:

nps.gov/blca/planyourvisit/hikingtrails.htm

Check the NPS website or call for info closer to the time of your trip. They might be having wildflower walks/talks, depending on what's in bloom at the time. Or they can advise you where to go and what to look for.

If you find you have an extra half day, you could visit the Black Canyon in the morning and then drive to the top of Owl Creek Pass and hike a portion of one of the trails there for beautiful flowers and scenery that afternoon.

Uden, The...
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2. Re: Gunnison to Blanding, UT

Changed your plans Places. No Torrey in one day? Blanding to Torrey next day via 95? Great trip!

Adirondack, New York
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3. Re: Gunnison to Blanding, UT

Thank you misspWestSlope_CO. You provided me with a number of fantastic ideas. I'm looking at the CO map right now and if I follow your suggestion of going through Ridgway, Telluride, Rico, Dolores, Dove Creek, Monticello to Blanding then it looks like I a scenic route at least to Dolores. Any idea how long this drive can take without too many stops? Google map says 7 hours but in a real life driving on scenic roads can be much longer. I'm trying to figure out what time to leave Gunnison and then I would need to add 3 hours for a visit to Black Canyon of Gunnison.

Maybe we should drive to the park for a day from Gunnison if there are wildflowers blooming and just spend a day hiking and then return to our lodging. We are there mid-July.

How is a drive to the top of Owl Creek Pass?This sounds fantastic. Is the road to Owl Creek Pass paved or do we need a 4x4?

How long is a drive from Gunnison to the entrance of the park? either way I'll follow your suggestions. Thank you again

Are there any nice supermarkets, farmer's market in Gunnison and then on the way to Blanding where we can buy fresh delicious fruits, vegetables, cheese, breads, etc.,?

Hi Tet,

I read several of your posts where you highly recommend taking route 95 to Torrey so I decide to adjust our itinerary and follow your suggestions. Thanks

You know I'm already planning our trip in July but nothing planned for the February-April trip to southwest.

Fruita, Colorado
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4. Re: Gunnison to Blanding, UT

If you are renting a vehicle you might want to read the fine print since most rentals are not allowed off of paved roads and even in the Crested Butte area (where the flowers really are, not so much in Gunnison) you will want to get off of paved roads. The Owl Creek Pass road is a good road but is not paved. There are some side roads off of it that are 4WD roads. So you might want to rent a 4WD. I would also suggest not going to the Black Canyon and then going back to Gunnison - just go on from there. It is about 2 hrs. each way and not one of my favorite drives. Gunnison has a City Market and Safeway (both chain stores) and probably will have a summer farmer's market somewhere. Olathe, CO is famous for it's corn so that for sure will be for sale from the back of pickup trucks everywhere about then. Shopping in Montrose is good, there are some bakeries - The Daily Bread gets some good reviews. Hope you have great travels.

WestSlope,CO
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5. Re: Gunnison to Blanding, UT

http://coloradoinfo.com/ouray/daytrips says: "This adventurous day trip will take you into the heart of the magnificent Cimarron Mountains. Be sure to follow signs directing you through ranch lands, along side creeks and over high country meadows to the pass at 10,114 feet.

The peaks of Chimney Rock and Courthouse Mountain will watch over you as you drive along this route which once was a cattle drive trail.

On returning home, watch the movie True Grit. You might recognize several locations throughout the movie which were filmed along this drive." From Montrose heading south you turn east on County Road 10. If you just drive to the top of Owl Creek Pass from this direction you shouldn't need a 4WD and it is a maintained gravel County Road so it may be okay with the rental car company but as SusieLou said, read the fine print. It does get a little washboardy and rutted, mainly on the rest of the drive which would take you back to Hwy 50 near Cimarron.

Did you see Yankee Boy Basin when you did your Durango-Ouray trip? If not, a jeep tour there is highly recommended for wildflower/scenery enthusiasts.

SusieLou mentioned the Daily Bread Bakery in Montrose and I thought of a couple more. Sweet Bites Bakery and the Eldorado Bakery and Cafe also have yummy baked goods. I don't know about Gunnison Farmers markets (will ask around and see what I can find out and let you know). Montrose Farmers Market is Wed afternoon and Saturday morning and Mattics Farms has a stand daily on East Main. Mattics also sells local cheese from Rocking W Dairy, and I believe the South Townsend City Market carries it as well.

From Gunnison to the Black Canyon turnoff, I'd estimate an hour and a half. It takes us about 2 3/4 hours to get to Dolores from Montrose with no stops (carrying the mail as DH says) and Mapquest says 3 1/4 to Dove Creek from Montrose so that would be pretty accurate, I think, unless there's road work. Just add some for your stops. The rest of your itinerary I haven't driven so wouldn't want to estimate.

If you are coming for wildflowers, I wouldn't cut short your time in Gunnison/Crested Butte in favor of more time at the Black Canyon. The Black Canyon will have some flowers but not the abundance you hope to see in Crested Butte. It is more desert/pinon/juniper, and of course the Canyon. Unless maybe you decide to add a day to your itinerary for the Black Canyon/Owl Creek or Yankee Boy sight seeing.

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6. Re: Gunnison to Blanding, UT

Thank you SusieLou and again misspWestSlope_CO. Fantastic information. I think I'll forgo spending a whole day in Black Canyon and just enjoy wildflowers around Crested Butte. I could take a drive on some unpaved roads since I'm driving my own car but it is not 4WD. I'm willing to rent a 4WD in Gunnison for a day or two so we can get to some off road areas with abundance of wildflowers. It looks like we can spend many more days in the area and keep busy since we love hiking. It is very tempting to add a few more days to our itinerary but I don't think this is going to happen on this trip. We are driving cross country all the way to Alaska and are already planning to spend 19 days to get from the East cost to British Columbia. We missed Yankee Boy Basin last year during our too short Durango-Ouray drive but wildflowers along this route were plentiful and magnificent. This why I want to return to CO and once I learned about Crested Butte and wildflowers I had to include this area in our plans. .

I should know there is Safeway supermarket in the area since they are in so many places we visited in AZ, CA, HI in the west, British Columbia and Alaska too. Do you know which one, Safeway or City Market in Gunnison, have better quality of fresh produce?

I would really appreciate if you can find out about farmers markets in Gunnison. Local cheese from Rocking W Dairy, I can only imagine how wonderful it must be.

Thank you for letting me now how long it takes you to drive this route but my husband and I make always so many scenic, wildflowers and geology stops so we better leave early from Gunnison especially if we want to make a quick drive through the Black Canyon of Gunnison NP. I don't think we are going to have any time for hiking. Well, maybe one short hike.

Thank you again for your tremendous help.

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7. Re: Gunnison to Blanding, UT

Forgot to ask, do you know of any specific areas or hikes around Crested Butte with big fields of wildflowers?

Fruita, Colorado
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8. Re: Gunnison to Blanding, UT

For hikes around Crested Butte try Gothic Valley, which is north of Mt. Crested Butte - hanselmannphotography.com/nTarge_newsletters… - is a good link to visit. You can also take a look at the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival event schedule for hikes - https:/… - then google the location. As suggested in the first web link, a good topog map is a good idea. The roads around that area can get very confusing since they go around the mountains and you lose sight lines. Last year Gunnison had a farmer's market every Sat. a.m. right on the main street - it's a small town so you can't miss it.

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9. Re: Gunnison to Blanding, UT

SusieLou, thank you for fantastic information about trails, wildflower festival, farmer's market. Those pictures are gorgeous.

And now I need to figure out what is the most scenic route from Santa Fe to Gunnison.

Fruita, Colorado
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10. Re: Gunnison to Blanding, UT

Going to Gunnison from Santa Fe I would suggest going north on HWY 84 through Espanola and Chama, a very scenic and very old Spanish portion of New Mexico (we used to live in NM) and then into Colorado to Pagosa Springs. Take HWY 160 to South Fork and then HWY 149 Creede and Lake City, old mining towns. That intersects with HWY 50 just west of Gunnison. It is about an 8 hr drive without stopping but you will surely want to stop, some lovely things to see.