Hike-in Required
ADA accessible
Guided tours
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While most of Colorado’s scenery is easy on the eyes, the explosion of dominating the landscape every spring and fall on Kebler Pass is especially eye catching.

Technically called Gunnison County Road 12, Kebler Pass is a scenic mountain road that stretches about 30 miles from Highway 133 near Paonia State Park to Crested Butte. The road is only accessible via snowmobile in the winter, but for spring wildflower hunters or fall color seekers, it doesn’t get much better.

From the west, after turning onto County Road 12, travelers reach a national forest boundary sign where the road turns to gravel. It remains a two-lane road with a mellow grade the entire way. Near the top at 10,007-feet it switches to pavement, but it quickly returns to smooth gravel until reaching Crested Butte. Aside from the myriad pull-offs to view flora and fauna you'll encounter trailheads, dispersed camping, and a developed campground along the way.

In August, 2014, the USA Pro Challenge bike race held a stage where elite cyclists from all over the world rode up and over the pass in rainy conditions and finished on Mount Crested Butte. Amateurs are welcome to ride over the pass anytime it's open, but summertime afternoon thunderstorms occur like clockwork, so come prepared with an extra layer.

For those traveling by vehicle, fill up your gas tank in Carbondale if you are coming from Highway 133, or in Crested Butte if you are starting the trip from the east. There are no gas stations along the 75-mile route, nor is there cell service for most of the way.

The highway signs entering the state read “Welcome to Colorful Colorado” because of roads like Kebler Pass. The best time for wildflower viewing tends to be late-May through June. Fall color peaks around the end of September into October.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Not Required


Scenic. Easy access.


Not accessible during winter months.

Pets allowed



Big vistas
Old-growth forest


Nearby Adventures

Sawatch Range + Elk Mountains, Colorado
Sawatch Range + Elk Mountains, Colorado
Sawatch Range + Elk Mountains, Colorado

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Sawatch Range + Elk Mountains, Colorado
Sawatch Range + Elk Mountains, Colorado
Sawatch Range + Elk Mountains, Colorado


Exploring the Kebler Pass scenic route, I turned off to further explore a side road taking you to Lake Irwin. I was getting close to losing the soft morning light which is best for photographing nature landscapes. Thankfully I drove right into some amazing backlit mist deep within the forest along the gravel road. Photo tip: The best lighting doesn't last long, so be prepared to hit the road well before sunrise. Some of your best images may be of more intimate scenes.
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