- 133 miles (214 km)
- Allow at least 3 hours driving time, not including stops, to travel the entire route.
- There are no fees for driving this byway.
Unaweep Canyon knifes through the soft red sandstone of the Uncompahgre Plateau all the way to Precambrian times. Ancient rivers silted the rock away, exposing hundreds of millions of years of the geologic record (including fossils of dinosaurs and early amphibians).
Other secrets of the earth were ferreted out by miners with picks and shovels. The canyon witnessed a copper boom around the turn of the century; decades later, the U.S. Army processed ore from nearby Uravan to produce the uranium used in the first atomic bombs.
Above all, this ageless desert region offers sheer scenic wonder - striated cliffs towering a thousand feet overhead, raging streams, and boundless skies.
Points of Interest Along The Way
Coke Oven (CO)
On the west side of the road is a dome-shaped coke oven built in the 1880s. Coal was heated in the oven to produce coke, a combustible material that burns practicallysmoke free. It is believed that coke from this oven was used by blacksmiths during the construction of the hanging flume.
Located along Hwy 141 near mile marker 83.5.
Driggs Mansion and Interpretive Sign (CO)
Seen here are the remains of the Driggs Mansion, a structure which was built by a wealthy New Yorker sometime between 1914 and 1918. Local stone masons cut sandstone from nearby Mayflower Canyon for the building's walls. Thimble Rock rises to the south behind the mansion.
Located along Hwy. 141 near mile marker 129.6.
East Creek Entrance (CO)
This spot marks the northern end of the Unaweep/Tabeguache Scenic and Historic Byway. Highway 141 south first enters the canyon of East Creek, a small stream that drains the eastern part of Unaweep Canyon. As you proceed on to Gateway through the Canyon, you will be traveling across the northern end of the Uncompahgre Plateau. The Plateau is 25 to 30 miles wide and stretches nearly 100 miles south to the San Juan Mountains. Highway 141 into Unaweep Canyon was once known as "Uranium Road" as it was the only access between the mines in the Gateway area and the processing mill in Grand Junction.
Located on Hwy. 141 near mile marker 152.
Gateway Community Park (CO)
The Gateway Community Park has a shaded picnic area, drinking water and toilet facilities. An interpretive display features additional information on the history of the area.
The town of Gateway serves as the "gateway" to the spectacular slickrock country of the Dolores River Canyon. This community and its surrounding maze of canyons and mesas are rich in the culture of the ancient Indians who once inhabited the area, as well as in the history of the Old West and the uranium/vanadium mining boom of the 1940s and 1950s.
The city of Gateway is located on Hwy. 141 near mile marker 111.4.
Grand Valley Overlook Interpretive Sign (CO)
From this viewpoint, the Grand Valley of the Colorado River can be seen bordered on the north by the Book Cliffs. Traces of the old stagecoach and wagon road to Gateway are visible on the north side of East Creek.
Located on Highway 141 at mile marker 146.
Hanging Flume Overlook and Interpretive Sign (CO)
Clinging to the massive Wingate Sandstone cliffs some 100-150 feet above the Dolores River Canyon is a wooden flume which was built between 1889 and 1890. The seven-mile flume and associated ditches delivered 80 million gallons of water per day from the San Miguel River to operate mining equipment at the Lone Tree Place site. Even though the site was only 40 feet above the Dolores River, the technology was not yet available to pump the water directly from the river at the necessary volume and pressure to separate the gold from the gravel.
Located on Hwy. 141 near mile marker 81.6.
Nancy Hanks Gulch Bridge (CO)
During a copper boom which lasted from 1897 to 1912, the communities of Copper City and Pearl City were founded in this area. Copper City established a small smelter and wooden structures for businesses, schools and some homes. Pearl City however, remained a community of tents for 17 years. The Pearl City Hotel, which offered the finest accomodations in town, consisted of three tents joined together.
Located along the byway near mile marker 142.1.
Located atop Wright's Mesa with scenic views in all directions is the agricultural community of Norwood.
In the 1880s the largest ranch in the area was owned by Harry B. Adsit who ran over 5,000 head of cattle and 1,000 horses on his 30 square mile range. One of Mr. Adsit's cowboys was "Bud" LeRoy Parker, better known as Butch Cassidy, who robbed the bank in Telluride in 1889.
The road south out of Norwood provides access to National Forest lands and Miramonte State Recreation Area, known for its excellent fishing.
Located along Hwy. 145 near mile marker 101.
This town was established around 1910 by an orchard company. The company planted orchards and advertised to sell them to settlers. The 7,000 foot elevation proved too high for fruit production and the land was turned over to general farming.
Located along Hwy. 145 near mile marker 110.
San Miguel River Nature Conservancy Preserve (CO)
This rugged, remote canyon with its steep, densely vegetated hillsides is home to an extremely diverse assemblage of plant and animal species. It represents one of the last remaining undisturbed, low to mid-elevation riparian areas of Colorado. In this habitat along the San Miguel River, visitors can see racoons, longtail weasels, American dippers, belted kingfishers, bald eagles and numerous other songbirds. Land along the river was purchased by the Nature Conservancy in order to protect this unique area. The public lands in the canyon are managed by the BLM as the San Miguel River Area of Critical Environmental Concern.
Located along Hwy 145 near mile marker 90.