The Unaweep / Tabeguache Scenic Byway doesn’t offer any specific, breathtaking destinations, instead, it’s simply a great scenic drive. The road runs alongside East Creek, and slowly drops into a wide valley, with scattered farms and ranches along the way.
Take US Rte. 50 East (which actually heads southeast at this point) out of Grand Junction. CO Rte. 141 joins up with the road, then splits to the right at the town of Whitewater. This is where the Scenic Byway begins. Rte. 141 eventually meets up with Rte. 145, which will take you into Telluride.
There aren’t many places to pull off the road between Whitewater and Gateway, so keep an eye out for a few picnic areas and trailheads, managed by the BLM. At this stop, I walked through this open gate and took a few steps onto what was probably private land.
Clear skies would have made this scene much more beautiful. You’ll just have to take my word for it.
No matter how much information I provide on the Unaweep/Tabeguache Byway, I simply can’t compete with the comprehensive guide published by local tourism officials. The guide outlines the history of the route, and points out worthwhile stops by mile markers. I picked up my copy at the helpful and friendly visitor’s center in Naturita, but unfortunately, my journey was already halfway complete at that point. You can request a guide by calling the visitor’s center at 970-865-2350. Or, check out byways.org
, which also has some helpful information.
Thimble Rock & Driggs Mansion
Around Mile Marker 129 you’ll pass two landmarks: Thimble Rock, and Driggs Mansion. The stone house was built in the shadow of the towering mountain, sometime around 1918. Unfortunately, the ruins are now on private land and are not accessible.
About 8 miles north of Gateway (at Mile Marker 120) you’ll find a turnout at the Unaweep Seep. Think of it as a natural spring, but instead of pouring out at one location, water seeps out slowly, over a wide area. The photo above shows the mountain above the Seep, not the Seep itself, which is on the opposite side of the road, underneath a tangle of weeds. (While you can’t see the Seep, you can hear the water trickling.)
At Gateway, you’ll find a nice, new gas station and convenience store. It’s the last food or fuel you’ll find until Naturita, so fill up if you need it.
Note: This trip was first published in 2005.