Marble, Colorado at the Peak of Fall Colors

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This would be a neat little part of Colorado at any time of the year. I guess I was just lucky enough to visit Marble at the exact moment when the aspen trees were at their peak of fall color. Here are a few suggestions of what to see and do, if you end up here during autumn — or any other time.

My Visit

I was already having a great day.  Colorado Highway 133 had proven to be a great choice for fall colors.  All the way down from Carbondale, I had passed unbelievable groves of aspen trees with brilliant yellow leaves — despite some slightly gloomy skies that provided hit-and-miss sunbeams.

Just before the climb to McClure Pass begins, I came upon another option.  The tiny community of Marble was just a few miles off the highway, along a side-road that’s a dead-end for anyone without a Jeep.  The view down the Crystal River valley looked so promising, I decided to take the detour.

Every inch of County Route 3 was enjoyable, but I hit the brakes and pulled off, when I came upon this shallow lake by the side of the road, just outside of the town.  The water was remarkably clear, and the sky was suddenly somewhat blue.  And look at those trees!

Those mountains are quite remarkable, too.  I was looking west, in the direction of Chair Mountain, but these may be some smaller peaks in between.

As I continued into town…

… I realized that Marble wasn’t a very big place at all.  The most noticeable public building was the community church.  There’s also a BBQ restaurant and a lodge, and an art studio (where you could buy some souvenir sculpted marble to take home).  And that’s about it for downtown Marble.

I decided to try driving up into the surrounding hills, for a closer look at the leaves.  I ended up on a perfect road:

This is County Road 3c, the road to the marble quarry.  That’s right, they really do produce marble in Marble.

Could you ask for a more perfect road to drive at the peak of Autumn?

The road to the marble quarry is in fantastic shape.  Even though it’s unpaved, I had no trouble driving it in my modest rental car.  As I climbed towards the quarry, I stopped dozens of times to enjoy the view.  This shot looks back to the north, possibly at Mount Daly.

Aspens usually provide good vertical lines, but I managed to find three diagonal ones — all slanted at the same angle.  Weird.

As I was driving up County Route 3c, I had no idea where I was going, or how far I’d get to go.  I wanted it to continue forever, but of course it didn’t.  Public access ends at these huge chunks of marble, which mark the entry to Colorado Stone Quarries.  No tours are available, and due to safety concerns, a trail that leads to a viewpoint is now off-limits as well.

You could, however, enjoy access to the area if you owned a historic old barn, that sits at the end of the road.  The barn was built in the 1830’s, and has been converted into a cabin.  As of my visit in 2014, it was for sale — along with the 62 acres it sits upon — price undisclosed.

Back in town, I drove out to Beaver Lake.  Sadly, the blue skies had been replaced by clouds, which provided a brief sprinkle of rain.  My window of opportunity for the best photos had closed.

I’m pretty sure that’s Whitehouse Mountain at the far end of the lake.  The road to the quarry slipped through the pass on the right side of the photo.

The road past Beaver Lake turns into the infamous 4-wheel-drive path to Schofield Pass.  If you’re properly equipped to deal with very rough, very narrow roads, I’d strongly recommend giving it a try.  Along the way to the pass, you’ll come upon the Crystal Mill.  This often-photographed old mill barely clings to a hillside, surrounded by golden aspen trees in late September and early October.

But I couldn’t go there.  I didn’t spring for the rental SUV.  I was in a compact sedan, which would have no chance of surviving the trip out to Crystal Mill.  So for me, this was a dead-end.  I turned around and headed back to Highway 133, while continuing to enjoy the scenery along the way.

The Bottom Line

If you really want to get away from it all, it would be great to spend a few days in Marble.  Bring your own Jeep, or rent a four-wheel-drive vehicle in-town.  There are some good hiking opportunities in the area, as well.  And if you can time your visit to occur at the peak of leaf-peeping season, you’ll be speechless.

Location

Marble, Colorado is located about 6 miles off of Colorado Highway 133. The nearest town big enough to have a Walmart is Glenwood Springs, which is about an hour’s drive (40 miles) to the north, via 133 and 82.

If you’re coming from Interstate 70, you’ll want to exit at Glenwood Springs onto Highway 82, head south to Carbondale, then continue south on Highway 133. The turnoff to Marble is just before you begin the climb to McClure Pass.

Drivelapse Video

Check out this time-lapse, dash-cam video of the drive out to Marble, and some other scenic detours off Highway 133:

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