Kebler Pass is a terrific high-mountain pass connecting Crested Butte with Paonia to the west. It’s a gorgeous seasonal shortcut to Aspen in the Roaring Fork Valley.
The pass summits at 10,007 feet above sea level, passing through the Gunnison National Forest. It’s probably best known as one of the premiere spots to be blown away by the fall aspens. It’s home to one of the largest aspen groves in the United States, situated in the West Elk Mountains.
Kebler Pass leads west from Crested Butte to Highway 133, just north of Somerset, a tiny mining village. The thirty-mile stretch of highway takes about two hours to reach the other side. The speed limit is 30 mph and the grades are gentle.
The gravel road is passable for 2-wheel drive, low-clearance vehicles from approximately late May to early November. It’s closed seasonally each winter when the snow makes the road impassable.
This seasonal mountain highway connects Crested Butte with Paonia. The drive over Kebler Pass takes nearly two hours. It’s a fairly high pass at 10,007 feet that leads through spectacular alpine terrain. Peaks tower in the distance as your pass through aspen and evergreen forests.
Although it’s a windy, 2WD dirt road, it’s smooth and should be good for all cars. Hiking, biking, and camping are common activities on Kebler Pass. The 33-mile-long route along Highway 133 is open from May to October.
There are a couple of lakes along the way that both have campgrounds and allow fishing. Lake Irwin and Lost Lake are only a couple of miles off the pass. Dispersed campsites can be found along most of the route.
Activities near Kebler Pass
Biking – Bikes are welcome on Kebler Pass.
Camping – Free dispersed campsites can be found on both sides of Kebler Pass. There are a few campgrounds in the area, including Lost Lake Campground. To reach head 16 miles east on CR 12 from CO 133 (Paonia side). Then take right onto FSR #706/Lost Lake Road, and go 2 miles to the first-come-first-serve campground. Paonia State Park is another option for campgrounds near the western start of Kebler Pass.
There are several campgrounds along the pass, including one at Lake Irwin and at Lost Lake. Dispersed camping is easy to find on both sides. Paonia Reservoir is a state park with two campgrounds and boating at the west end of the route.
Read about the camping near Crested Butte and Kebler Pass.
Fall Colors – Kebler Pass is one of the premiere spots in Colorado to see fall foliage. The aspens glimmer in oranges and yellows each autumn.
Hiking – Stop and smell the aspens. Take a stroll through the remote Colorado countryside while touring Kebler Pass.
OHV – 4×4 off-highway vehicles are permitted in parts of the Gunnison National Forest on Kebler Pass.
Kebler Pass is part of the great West Elk Loop, a national scenic byway. You’ll continue on this highway whether you finish in Paonia or Crested Butte.
Crested Butte – Take County Road 12 out of town, which turns into Highway 135. Follow over Kebler Pass to Paonia Reservoir and Highway 133. It connects with CO 133, which you can take north toward Carbondale and Aspen, or south to Paonia.
Paonia – Head north on CO 133 for nearly 15 miles, before making a right on County Road 12. Follow this over Kebler Pass to CB.
Crested Butte offers loads of recreation in its unique mountain setting. South of Crested Butte in Almont is the route over Cottonwood Pass to Buena Vista.
Address: Gunnison County Rd 12, Crested Butte
Nearby Towns: Somerset and Paonia
Length: 30 miles
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