Overlanding to Crystal Mill from Marble, Colorado

This post may contain affiliate links which means we receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

What it’s like to drive to beautiful Crystal Mill from Marble, Colorado. Follow the Crystal River for an overlanding trip of a lifetime!

While you can take a Jeep tour to Crystal Mill, you can also drive it yourself. Overlanding to Crystal Mill in the Maroon Bells is an experience of a lifetime. beautiful Crystal Mill alongside the Crystal River in the Maroon Bells area of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado

We always knew we wanted to go back and drive the narrow shelf road that follows the Crystal River. The difference was that now we were visiting when aspens had peaked with rich golden leaves.

I’ll tell you, there is nothing like the majestic Maroon Bells Wilderness with its towering Rocky Mountain peaks covered in shades of green and gold. It takes your breath away, and it almost feels as though you’re looking through the lens of a fairy tale. Crystal Mill CO in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado

While we longed for serenity, we didn’t mind sharing the view with others who’d made the journey to photograph and capture such a peaceful yet mysterious place. It’s a road less traveled that’s quickly becoming more and more traveled. Crystal River flowing around and below Crystal Mill and golden aspens in Colorado

Watch the video of our overlanding adventure to Crystal Mill

Just follow the Crystal River

Leaving Marble, Colorado, you’ll pass by Beaver Lake. Its placid waters beckon to come back again for a li’l kayaking adventure.

Beaver Lake in Marble, Colorado

The road quickly changes to unpaved road and as you go on, it becomes more and more rocky. At one point, you’ll come to a fork in the road where you can decide to go on toward Lead King Basin or you can turn to your right, then take a sharp left past a mountainside house toward the mill.

You may be tempted to turn around at this point because of the steep drop off to your right. Just keep going and don’t chicken out, because this narrow shelf road, built by settlers in the late 1800’s, is totally worth it.

Lizard Lake near Marble, Colorado

You’ll come upon Lizard Lake pretty quickly.Beautiful Lizard Lake in the autumn on the road to Crystal Mill Along the way are mountain views, natural spring waterfalls, and signs that this was once a thriving mining community. waterfall on road to Crystal, ColoradoThe mountains are rugged and covered with fir trees and aspens that turn a vibrant gold in the autumn.Crystal River and golden yellow aspens in a Colorado fall Take a moment just to enjoy the view before you move on. rugged Rocky Mountains near Crystal and Marble, Colorado

The trail is narrow and rocky as it winds along, much of the time beside the Crystal River. winding road beside the Crystal River on the way to Crystal Mill ColoradoWhile you can hike it (and we passed many hikers), if you plan to drive it, 4 wheel drive is a must. narrow rocky road to Crystal Mill Marble Colorado

There are small turnouts all along the way. This ensures that if you meet another vehicle, one of you can maneuver mostly out of the way and let the other pass; though most of the time, one will have to back up to find said turnouts. road with turnouts to Crystal Mill Marble CO

You’ll even pass by the wreckage of one vehicle that didn’t quite make it. wreckage of a truck on the road to the semi ghost town of Crystal, Colorado

Arrive at Crystal Mill

Finally, you’ll round the corner and there it’ll be… Almost like a dream but very real indeed. Crystal Mill and the Crystal River Colorado with golden yellow aspens in autumn

Crystal Mill is a historic landmark and one of the most photogenic places we’ve ever experienced. Its rugged appearance gives it a ghostly haunted feel. ghostly Crystal Mill in Colorado surrounded by golden yellow aspen trees and mountains

Crystal Mill once operated as a powerhouse or power plant for mining operations. Now it sits mysteriously quiet, framed by the Crystal River and the aspen covered mountainsoverlanding to Crystal Mill and the Crystal River in Colorado

The river swirls and flows to the side and around to the front of the mill. Between both the blue of the sky and the clarity of the water, it boasts a beautiful blue green tint. haunted Crystal Mill in Colorado

Just around the corner is Crystal, Colorado

At one time, the town of Crystal (just around the bend from Crystal Mill) had 400 residents, most of whom were miners and their families. They call it a semi ghost town, though there are people who come there to spend their summers. cabin in Crystal, a semi ghost town in Colorado

Roger Neal, an author who has written extensively about the area, spends his summers there, sharing his Crystal Tale Books with visitors who come to Crystal. Jaden has read every single book of Roger’s that we bought on our last trip to Crystal, so he was excited to see Roger again and talk more with him.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see Mr. Neal on this trip, but hopefully, next time. Roger had shared with us that his family spent summers there when he was a child; now he and his wife do the same. semi ghost town in Colorado, Crystal, with cabins, a general store, and outhouse

There are actually cabins to rent in Crystal now, so you can stay the night or longer. And there’s a general store (the Crystal Store), as well as an outhouse.

The road continues on through the town of Crystal and winds its way to Crested Butte via Schofield Pass. Or you can experience the entire loop, including Lead King Basin, Devil’s Punchbowl, and Sheep Mountainhaunted Crystal Mill outside Marble, Colorado

Know before you go to Crystal Mill, Colorado

There are definitely a few things to note before taking off on an overlanding trip to Crystal Mill and beyond…

  • You can either drive it yourself or take the Jeep tour to Crystal Mill with Crystal River Jeep Tours. Of course, if you don’t want to ride at all, you may even want to hike it; just plan enough time if you do.
  • While there is a bathroom in Marble and an outhouse in Crystal, there are no bathrooms along the way. Plan accordingly.
  • Roads are quite rocky, meaning lots of jolts and bumps.
  • Pack any water and snacks or food you need for the trip, maybe a small cooler; also, pack extra because the mountains are unpredictable, and you never know what may happen.
  • Wear comfortable clothing and shoes, and carry a jacket, even in summer.
  • Along those same lines, pack a spare tire or two or three. Just make sure your tires are fit and you have spare/s.
  • The best time to travel the road is from Memorial Day to the end of November (this is when the Jeep tours operate), though the closer you get to winter, the more you risk snow. We’ve traveled the road to Crystal in both the middle of summer and September; both times were gorgeous.
  • Make sure you have a camera and binoculars! You don’t want to miss a thing.
  • The property along the road and even the mill itself is all private property. Don’t trespass.
  • Finally, you know me well enough by now to know what this point will be… Leave no trace! Pack out what you pack in. For real… Let’s just pledge right now to take responsibility in keeping this place a treasure.

Crystal Mill is a Colorado treasure and one place that everyone should experience in their lifetime. Make this bucket list journey, and you’ll agree that it’s unforgettable. gorgeous Crystal Mill surrounded by yellow aspens in Colorado

More Colorado treasures you may enjoy visiting:

Overlanding to Crystal Mill from Marble, Colorado
what it's like to overland the road to Crystal Mill
an overlander's journey to Crystal Mill and the semi ghost town of Crystal, Colorado
explore Crystal Mill near Marble, Colorado
haunting Crystal Mill in Colorado

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.