Passing working coal mines in Bowie, Colorado, with stacks of dark black coal piled high, I entered Kebler Pass through the Gunnison National Forest, near Paionia. The two-lane road is packed with gravel and closed during the winter, but fall leaves are joyously celebrated in September by tourists and Coloradoans. Hundreds of cars amble along the pass for the spectacular views of the multicolored aspens and occasional wildlife sightings.
Switchbacks and slow drivers taking in the views make this 30-mile drive
slow but beautiful. Turnouts along the mountain provide the opportunity to photograph cascades of aspen groves and towering mountain peaks.
The peak is 9,980 feet, with views of West Elk Mountain and Ruby Range and sculptured canyons below. Clusters of aspen trees with slender white trunks carrying volumes of glistening yellow and orange leaves gracefully sway in the cool breeze, just waiting for a photograph.
The pass ends in Crested Butte where quaint shops and homey bed-and-breakfasts await the fall road warrior.