Fourth of July, Rocky Mountain High

We took a little drive this morning through some of the more scenic portions of Gunnison County, Colorado. For reference purposes, Gunnison County is significantly larger than the state of Delaware, and since it’s extremely mountainous (the city of Gunnison, which sits in the valley, is at an altitude of 7,700+ feet), there are a lot of scenic spots in the area.

We headed over through Pitkin and drove up the Cumberland Pass Road, the “highest standard car road for summer use in the nation” – and along the way we took some photos. I thought maybe I’d share a few of them with you. (I’m not a real photographer, but perhaps the natural beauty of the place can overcome my technical shortcomings.)

This was shot along the road between Highway 50 and Pitkin. Nothing special, perhaps, unless you’re just blown away by how clear the sky can be in Colorado.


We drove past this stand of Aspens just above Pitkin.


When they call it the “highest standard car road for summer use in the nation,” you should understand that by “car” they mean “rugged 4-wheel SUV with a very high clearance,” “all-terrain vehicle,” or “especially brave mountain goat.” I have no idea what definition of “road” they’re using, but there’s nothing in my Webster’s that seems to fit. This next shot was taken looking up the side of the mountain we were on the side of. I was looking up the mountain because I have an issue with heights and was afraid to look out the passenger side at the 25,000-foot drop of death below us. Guard rail? What’s a guard rail?


Cumberland Pass sits 12,015 feet above sea level. These next two were taken from there.



I hope your holiday has been as beautiful as mine has so far.

10 replies »

  1. Thank you, Sam. I’ve driven that route, long ago. I appreciate the reminder of how beautiful Colorado is.

  2. Funny thing, Denny. At one point along the ride we were looking at a big rock formation and Angela said “if Denny was here he could tell us what kind it is.” And I said “I bet he’s been here before.”

  3. I remember one of the things that caused a little culture shock when I went to PA for undergrad was the guard rails everywhere. The population density is a lot higher, so many of the rails are there to prevent a car accident from turning into “pickup drops through roof, kills family sitting down to dinner.”

    In Colorado, a guard rail means that you either have a home to worry about, a river that the authorities don’t want you to slide off into (and only then on curves), or a several thousand foot drop (preferably with the cliff undercutting the road too).

  4. Didn’t Bob Wills have a song about that place?

    “Them Gunnison gals, about half-grown
    Jump on a man like a dog on a bone…”

    You’re a brave soul.

  5. My God, I can’t believe you live near there. What a great way to spend the 4th.

  6. I can’t believe I’ve never been over Cumberland Pass, and I’ve been on some high, remote ones in Colorado over the years. Thanks for inspiring me for a future road trip, and for sharing these fantastic images. For somone who’s not a “real photographer,” you’re pretty damned impressive!

  7. sweet, so what kind of rugged 4×4 with lots of ground clearance were you driving?