Crested Butte camping and Comet Neowise

You might be sick of hearing about our weekly camping trips by now, but guess what… I’m not even halfway through all the trips we did this past summer/fall! Buckle up!

Truthfully, I want to skip ahead to our exciting, activity-packed weeklong trip to southern Colorado that we took in mid-August, but I also couldn’t skip showcasing the beautiful landscapes we saw in Crested Butte, not to mention the magical comet we got to witness while camping.

The next weekend after our Chicago Lakes backpacking trip, we had our sights set on exploring an entirely different area in Colorado that we had never traveled to before, Marble. There was a particularly difficult 4WD route called Lead King Basin that hubby wanted to try and although we weren’t confident we would get very far on the difficult route, we figured we would go as far as we were safely able and hopefully find a beautiful waterfall or stream to camp by.

Well… we didn’t get very far on Lead King Basin road before this:

To add salt to this trail wound, it was also raining.

We knew there was no way we were getting past this avalanche debris that hadn’t been cleared from the 2018-2019 season, but we parked beside the road and stuck around a bit anyway to watch other vehicles tackling the impressive obstacle from the other direction. Vehicles from the other direction had the advantage of coming downhill over the debris; attempting to drive over the debris uphill (the way we were headed) was nearly impossible in our vehicle.

We inadvertently got trapped on the side of the trail while watching Jeeps come downhill through the avalanche debris. The Jeeps coming down decided to park right beside our vehicle to wait for the rest of their crew to get through the obstacle.

After being bamboozled by this obstacle, we had to quickly come up with a new plan without having any internet connection. Luckily we had our 4WD trails guidebook to refer to, as well as a GPS app called GAIA. Everything nearby seemed like a difficult trail we didn’t have the motivation to attempt on a whim, so we decided to abandon Marble altogether and reroute completely around to the other end of where these same difficult trails lead to, Crested Butte.

We ended up taking Kebler Pass, a very easy dirt road, to get to Crested Butte, and although there seemed to be few camping options, we eventually found a spot with unreal views of the vast, tree-filled landscape. We wouldn’t normally camp in such an exposed/wide-open area, but the sun was on its last couple of hours hanging low in the sky and it was getting too late to keep looking for other potential spots.

The Universe must have been trying to do us a favor by giving us this “exposed” spot to set up camp on because that night, we just happened to notice a blurry, streaky star that we later found out was Comet Neowise. It was a remarkable and almost spiritual sight to see! If we had camped in the dense, wooded area near Marble, we also would have never seen this once-in-a-lifetime spectacle.

Tall aspens adorn the vast landscape behind our camp.
The landscape near our campsite was like NOTHING we had ever seen in Colorado before.
Several of these beautiful flowers called Mariposa Lilies were scattered by the pond near our camping spot.
Sunset on the peak near our campsite.
Comet Neowise, captured by hubby’s amazing photography skills.
You may think we read books and stare at the night sky when we go camping, but truthfully, you’ll most often catch us Netflixing and boozing in the tent. Haha! We try to plan ahead and download movies/shows to watch offline.

The next day, we packed up camp and took a drive on the Paradise Divide Loop outside Crested Butte. This 4WD route connected up with the difficult route we had attempted to drive the day before (Lead King Basin) where we had to turn around due to the avalanche debris. It was quite evident why Paradise Divide was named as such; the lush, green valleys were mesmerizing!

When the Paradise Divide route branched off to a 4WD road we didn’t dare drive, we got out on foot. We were so glad we took the time to explore the road on foot, but then felt it was almost impossible to leave (for reasons that will be obvious in the photos that follow). We knew we’d have to go back to this magical spot again sometime!

Driving Paradise Divide Loop.
More scenes from the Paradise Divide Loop. How cute are these baby trees!?
Crested Butte is known for a wide variety of wildflowers, but the Rocky Mountain Lupines always steal the show, hands down.
Scenes on the Paradise Divide Loop.
Pinch me! Are we even in Colorado anymore?
If we would have been able to complete the 4WD route the previous day (Lead King Basin), it would have eventually led us to this section of road called Devil’s Punchbowl. I’m pretty relieved that we didn’t make it this far in the vehicle because it was a pretty scary road! In fact, a motorcyclist fell off this trail and into the water below in 2019 and somehow not only lived to tell the tale, but captured the whole thing on a helmet cam! If you don’t believe me, head on over to YouTube to find the video.
Colorado or Hawaii?

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