Paradise Divide  
Maps:    
USGS 7.5' Map: Snowmass Moutain, Oh-be-Joyful
Statistics:
Difficulty: Number: Miles: Altitude: Obstacles: Time:
Easy 2 FR317, 734 6.20 9,280 to 10,707 ft. Ledge - 1 1-2 hours
County: Gunnison
Adopted by:      
Managed by: Gunnison National Forest, Gunnison Ranger District
White River National Forest, Sopris Ranger District
216 N Colorado, Gunnison, CO 81230

620 Main Street, Carbondale, CO 81623
970-641-0471

970-963-2266

Summary: Paradise Divide is an easy drive through Paradise Basin from near the summit of Schofield Pass. The section southern side of the Divide is an open ledge road that gives you great views of the Slate River headwaters.
Attractions: Scenery, Mining, History
Seasonal
Closure:
Agency - November 23 to May 20 on the Sopris Ranger District (northside).
Natural - on the Gunnison Ranger District (southside).
Best Time: June - Early, may still be drifted shut
July - Best late in the month
August - Best
September - Best
October - May have early snow
Trail Heads
Accessed:

Camping: There are a few good dispersed campsite in Paradise Basin. There are a half dozen sites around the edge of Paradise Divide overlooking the Slate River Valley.
Base Camp: This would be a good area to base camp and explore Washington Gulch, Slate River, Gunsight Pass, Schofield Pass, and Poverty Gulch.
Fall Colors: Poor - There are few aspen higher up. Down near the Pittsburg town site there are more groves of aspen.
Navigation: Route 1 - From Crested Butte, CO. head north on Colorado 135 North toward Sopris Ave. Go 0.1 miles and turn right onto 6th Street. Go 0.3 miles and continue onto County Rd 317 / Gothic Rd. Go 1.5 miles and take a slight left onto County Rd 811 / Washington Gulch Rd. Go 4.0 miles and take another slight left to stay on County Rd 811. Go 2.7 miles and take a slight left to stay on County Rd 811. Continue to follow County Rd 811 for 1.0 mile. Take a slight left to stay on County Rd 811 and go 1.2 miles to an intersection. Take the right to start the Paradise Divide 4WD road. A left will take you back to Crested Butte on the Slate River Road, County/Forest Service Rd 734.

Route 2 - From Crested Butte, CO. head north on Colorado 135 North toward Sopris Ave. Go 0.1 miles and turn right onto 6th Street. Go 0.3 miles and continue onto County Rd 317 / Gothic Rd. Go 0.6 miles and turn left onto County Rd 734. Go 3.6 miles and take a slight right to stay on County Rd 734. Go 7.1 miles to an intersection. Take the left turn to start up the Paradise Divide 4WD road. A right will take you back to Crested Butte on the Washington Gulch Road.

Route 2 - From Crested Butte, CO. head north on Colorado 135 North toward Sopris Ave. Go 0.1 miles and turn right onto 6th Street. Go 0.3 miles and continue onto County Rd 317 / Gothic Rd. Go 13.3 miles to an intersection. The left turn is the Paradise Divide 4WD road. Right, or straight ahead is the Schofield Pass 4WD road.
History: In 1891 the Colorado Marble and Mining Company was formed and began planning an rail road line from the terminus of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad in Crested Butte to their London and White Marble claims up on Yule Creek. In February of 1892 they began surveying for an electric tram line through Pittsburg to the head of the Slate River and up to Yule Creek. The trail from Paradise Divide that heads northwest along Cinnamon Mountain to Yule Pass was this route. The terminus was going to be above the quarries and large cranes would be used to load the cut marble onto the tram cars.

As 1892 continued it became obvious that the tram line was not being built. The owners of the Colorado Marble and Mining Company changed plans to a wagon road that would later be upgraded to a tram line. The wagon road was just about operational at the end of 1892 with the Colorado Marble and Mining looking optimistic toward 1893 and filling orders of marble for the Colorado Capital flooring. But, 1893 became the silver crash year as the federal government demonitized silver causing the silver mining towns to go bust.

Vandenbusche, Duane and Myers, Rex. Marble Colorado - City of Stone Denver, Colorado: Golden Bell Press, 1970. Print.
Description:
From Schofield Pass it is a short distance to the start of Paradise Divide, FR 317. The road will take off to the southwest just north of Schofield Pass. It drops down into Elko Park and heads southwest between Galena Mountain and Mount Baldy. The road will follow Rock Creek, which is the upper headwaters of the Crystal River, through this alpine basin. There will be a few camp sites along the south side of the road.

You will come to an intersection just before climbing out of Elko Park. The right turn will take you across the park and come to another intersection. The right at this intersection is the North Pole Road that is not shown on the Forest Service Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM), and is not leagal to drive. The left heads up Rock Creek to the foot of Cinnamon Mountain, and is also not on the MVUM. Back at the first intersection stay to the left to continue on to Paradise Basin following FR 317. The road is wide and in good shape as it continues into the forest and comes out in Paradise Basin.

As you head through the basin the Paradise Mine tailings are to the southeast up on the side of Mount Baldy. You will traverse two switchbacks as you climb to the top of Paradise Divide overlooking the Slate River valley.
Paradise Divide ahead

photo by:
Adam M

At the top you will come to a small lake with multiple spur roads that all dead end.
Paradise Divide

photo by:
Larry M

Some go to the many campsites around this area. The road that continues north will dead end and become the hiking trail to Yule Pass. From Paradise Divide you will have great views of Purple Mountain and Augusta Mountain across the valley.
Slate River Valley

photo by:
Adam M

Continue down over the edge following the main road. You are now in the Gunnison Ranger District and on FR 734. The road will still be fairly wide, but it becomes a ledge road. The road cuts the steep side of Mount Baldy heading down to the valley below. It is wide open with no trees so the views are excellent, but the height and openness will have you keeping your eyes on the road. As you work lower into the valley the road will enter the forest again and you will come to an intersection. The road to the left heading up hill is Washington Gulch, FR 811. Continue to the right heading down to stay on FR 734. You will come out of the trees and work your way through five switchbacks before reaching the valley floor.

At the hairpin turn there is a short spur road, FR 734.5A, that goes less than a quarter of a mile up the valley before ending. Stay on the main road to head for the old town of Pittsburg. As the valley widens out you will come to an area with multiple private homes. This is the site of Pittsburg. Just beyond the homes you will come to another intersection. The right turn will take you to FR 552 that heads up Poverty Basin and dead ends just over a mile. The main road continues down the valley becoming County Road 734 and follows the Slate River to Crested Butte.
Data updated: April 14, 2014        4WD Road driven: Semptember 02, 2012        Copyright 4X4Explore.com - 2000-2014