The bundles of electric blooms flanking the East Fork of the Crystal River are so bright, it’s as if they emit their own light. This is the wildflower hike to which all others are compared, and it earned the nearby town of Crested Butte the title of Wildflower Capital of America. “Peak bloom is generally the third week of July,” says Koepsel, who’s spotted columbine, larkspur, lupine, and king’s crown along this 4.5-mile trek, which gains 2,090 feet to West Maroon Pass.
From the Schofield Park trailhead, follow the West Maroon Pass Trail a half-mile to the north bank of the East Fork, where you’ll wade through waist-deep wildflowers. Stay right at junctions at miles two and three to continue to 12,500-foot West Maroon Pass, where the striated Maroon Bells and Pyramid Peak dominate the knifelike summits surrounding your perch.
Driving From Crested Butte, take Schofield Pass Rd. 17 miles and park on the right, one mile beyond Schofield Pass.
Contact (970) 945-2521, fs.fed.us/r2/whiteriver