Venture off to Crested Butte, the Wildflower Capital of Colorado, for a wildly colorful adventure.
Endless blooms await on Rustler's Gulch Trail, tucked away in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. This 9-mile out-and-back trail offers stunning views of Gothic Mountain, along with plenty of high country floral blooming anywhere from early July to mid-August.
Hikers can see a wide variety of blooms along the trail, including the columbine – Colorado's official state flower.
The alpine tundra along the route is breathtaking, lush with a colorful confetti of wildflowers during certain times of the year. As hikers approach the head of the valley, the trail splits off to a strikingly beautiful sets of falls situated beneath Precarious Peak (13,380 feet) and Cassi Peak (13,232 feet).
Rustler's Gulch holds a bounty of natural wonder, explorable by a single-day trek or an overnight backcountry escape. If you visit, be prepared for a steep and steady incline to the basin with a total elevation gain of 1,791 feet.
All overnight visitors are required to self-register at the trailhead kiosk. Rangers often patrol the trail, so be sure to carry a copy of the permit along with you. Bear canisters are also required for backpackers. Dogs are welcome to use the trail but must kept on a leash at all times.
To get there, take Gothic Road (135) north past Mount Crested Butte for 4.3 miles. Keep right past the Snodgrass Trailhead parking lot and descend into the East River Valley for another 6.5 miles past the town of Gothic until you reach the signed Rustler Gulch road. Low-clearance vehicles may park here. For high-clearance 4WD vehicles, you'll want to turn right and continue on the rocky road for another 0.2 miles to the East River. Cross the river and park on the right side, or continue on for another mile to reach the trailhead.
Editor's Note: Always practice the seven core principles of Leave No Trace. Do not pick, touch, or trample on any of the wildflowers. Keep them beautiful and blooming for others to enjoy.