There is SO much to do in Paonia, Crawford, Hotchkiss, and all around the North Fork Valley in Western Colorado!
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
The Black Canyon of the Gunnison’s beautiful north rim is only a short drive south of us. Many say it rivals the Grand Canyon for its extreme plunge. The south fork of Gunnison River flows down in the bottom of this deep chasm in the ancient stone. (The north fork runs just down the hill from the Inn) Visitors can experience the park by foot, by car, by ropes, or by boat.
Kebler Pass, Lost Lake & Lake Irwin (summer only)
Kebler Pass is reached via a 10,000′ high road connecting Paonia (Highway 133) and Crested Butte. In the summer, this unpaved road is open to all vehicle traffic and is well maintained. The pass is closed in the winter. They say that Kebler Pass is home to the largest Aspen organism in the world and the fall leaves are absolutely glorious. There is plenty of hiking and camping on Kebler Pass, including two of our favorites listed below:
Lost Lake Campground is a great place for families to camp. Parents and children alike will enjoy fishing and hiking around Lost Lake, Dollar Lake and Lost Lake Slough. Beckwith Pass provides breathtaking vistas of the Ruby Mountain Range. The wildflowers in this region are phenomenal during mid-July and early August. The Columbine, Colorado’s state flower, should not be missed when in full bloom, spectacular and numerous!
Lake Irwin Campground is bordered on the eastern side by Lake Irwin and the western side by the Ruby Mountain Range. This rugged terrain provides challenging but spectacular mountain biking and hiking. The lake is usually so full of fish you can see them rise to the calm surface. The area is very picturesque and filled with wildflowers in July and August. There are 32 campsites in the established campground and numerous informal sites tucked away in the area.
The Grand Mesa
The Grand Mesa, one of the world’s largest flattop mountains, is part of a combination of separate national forests including the Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests located to our west only an hour away. Grand Mesa is the backdrop for all sorts of outdoor activities including downhill and cross country skiing, hiking, fishing, and snowmobiling. The area includes spectacular features like the 355 foot-high Bridal Veil Falls; more than 300 lakes, and Alpine Tunnel – at one time the highest railroad tunnel in North America.
Jumbo Mountain Mountain Biking
The Jumbo Mountain Trails System has become a world-class mountain biking area. The trailhead begins right in Paonia town limits at the top of Apple Valley Hill. From there, the options are surprisingly diverse. Everything from trails that an 8 year old can ride to advanced routes like “Ridge of Doom” and “Rock & Roll.” Find out more: Paonia Singletrack Society on Facebook.
Gunnison Pleasure Park
“Entrance to Gold Medal Gunnison River” Fishing/Fishing Guide, Jet Boat Service, Sleeping Cabins, RV Camping (No Hookups), Overnight Camping. Raft Rentals, Food, Beer, Pop, Ice, Convenience Store, Picnic Area, Fishing Tackle. New Rafts, and Rafting Equipment Store. Fishing and Rafting Information, Shuttle Service.
Paonia State Park
Plunge deep into nature at this narrow lake park. Steep mountainsides, pristine water, alpine scenery and peaceful environment make Paonia a haven for water and nature lovers. Camp near a babbling stream, water-ski on a mountain reservoir, have a picnic, observe wildlife, all in view of the majestic Ragged Mountains. The park’s natural beauty and abundance of wildflowers make it a “must see” for photographers and nature lovers. In cooperation with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the Colorado State Parks recently rehabilitated several areas of the park. Visitors can relax here; for one day or for several.
Jet skiing, motor boating and water skiing are very popular action-oriented activities at peak times like summer weekends. The park is quiet and restful during the week and lower peak times. A nice retreat for outdoor recreation, groups are welcome to gather and enjoy the group picnic facility. Crawford is great nearby place to take a break and enjoy great recreation and stunning scenery.
Crystal River Valley, Redstone & Marble – historic and relaxing
(1 hour drive)
Between us and I-70, you find Glenwood Springs and its famous hot springs, Carbondale (and the turnoff to Aspen) and the Crystal River Valley featuring the tiny historic communities of Redstone and Marble. The valley is lush and cool in the summer and people visit on bicycles, motorcycles, horse, foot and car. This is an excellent day trip from Wisehart Springs Inn.
Glenwood Springs – swimming, adventuring (1.5 hour drive)
Glenwood’s most outstanding attraction is, of course, its enormous hot springs pool, open year round. Glenwood Springs also boasts the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, Glenwood Canyon, Yampah Vapor Caves, Sunlight Mountain Resort, and the final resting place of the legendary Wild West personality Doc Holiday!.
Aspen – downhill skiing and charming mountain town (2 hour drive)
Besides being a great place for eating out and people watching, Aspen is known for outdoor adventures from skiing to biking, arts and culture, and small-town charm.
Powderhorn – downhill (1 hour 45 minute drive)
Powderhorn sits on the edge of the Grand Mesa, the world’s largest flat-topped mountain. The valleys, cliffs, mesas and canyons of western Colorado provide views unlike any other. The area enjoys a reputation for outstanding tree skiing and diverse terrain. Colorado’s wine country and legendary bike trails are just 45 minutes away offering some variety of your winter adventure.
Grand Mesa – summer hiking and winter cross country skiing/snowshoeing (1 hour 45 minute drive)
The Grand Mesa in Colorado is known as the largest flattop mountain in the world, encompassing hundreds of square miles and standing more than 10,000 feet above sea level. The Mesa Scenic Byway winds through 63 miles of the national forest, providing beautiful views of the park’s lakes, wildlife and geological features. The park, a short drive east of Grand Junction, Colorado, is a popular destination for fishing, camping, hiking and more during the summer months. In the winter, Grand Mesa, which is home to the Powderhorn resort, offers some of the best skiing and snowboarding in Colorado.
Colorado National Monument (outside of Grand Junction)
The Colorado National Monument embodies the majesty of the American West. Panoramic views of towering red rock structures are just one reason why the park is a favorite among travelers in search of Colorado’s best camping, hiking, rafting and mountain biking. Trails in the park range in length from a quarter mile to more than 14 miles, offering fun for hikers and bikers of all skill levels. For those who simply want to enjoy the sights, the scenic Rim Rock Drive stretches 23 miles through the park, offering awe-inspiring views along the way. Stop by for the day to experience the park’s scenery or explore the park for several days on a camping trip.
Use Wisehart Springs Inn as a hopping off point for all of these excursions as well as the Canyonlands, Moab, Capital Reefs, Escalante, Dominguez Canyon, Ouray (and the great hot springs there) and Telluride.
Raft or Canoe the Gunnison River
The Gunnison River provides a variety of fishing and boating opportunities – from an afternoon of fishing at the Pleasure Park to multi-day rafting, fishing and canoeing adventures. Contact one of our many friendly local outfitters to set up your trip. Gunnison River Expeditions, Black Canyon Anglers, Centennial Canoe, and here’s the BLM site so you can find other permitted outfitters.