Rainbow Lake Road (CR 724)
Aliases: West Elk Wilderness, South Baldy
A summertime destination, this road climbs from the shores of Blue Mesa Reservoir into the high montane forests, passing through sagebrush and montane shrub habitats along the way. In the sagebrush look for Sage Thrashers and Brewer’s Sparrows; in the shrublands, for Green-tailed Towhees and MacGillivray’s Warblers. The high country can produce Clark’s Nutcracker, Gray Jay, Red Crossbills, and Pine Grosbeak. Mule deer are numerous here, and you might see elk or even bear. Alpine areas are accessible by hiking and only those in good physical condition should attempt to climb South Baldy. There is a camping area at Rainbow Lake. Make sure to bring your camera! The wildflowers are stunning in this area, especially in July.
Attractions: Wildflowers in summer
Habitat: Sagebrush, Grassland/Prairie, Lowland Riparian, Aspen Grove, Mixed Conifer Forest, Spruce-Fir Forest, Krummholz, Alpine Tundra
Directions: Go west of Gunnison on US 50 to milepost 143 (14.3 miles). Rainbow Lake Road (FS724) is on the north side of the reservoir and offers easy and productive access to higher elevations.
Delorme: 68 A1
Roads of Colorado: 100 B3
Dates of Access: Most of road closed in winter
Ownership: BLM/US Forest Service
Parking: Roadside; gravel parking at trailheads
Lodging: Primitive camping, or hotels in Gunnison
Handicapped Access: Viewing from car