A Successful Fall Color Drive on Ely’s Success Loop

I honestly didn’t know whether I would have success viewing fall foliage on the dirt road known as the Success Loop near Ely, Nevada. I wasn’t sure if the trees there were changing yet.

But I was in for a pleasant surprise. Most of the aspens (60%) were near peak, spilling over into full peak.

Success Loop Fall Color
Success Loop near Ely, 10-5-23, Kim Wilkes

Only about 40% of the trees were still green and some of those were also a mixture of green, red, or orange, making for some nice contrasts.

Success Loop Fall Color
Some Trees Still Green on the Success Loop with a Smattering of Orange, 10-5-23, Kim Wilkes

Gold, orange, and red trees line the road and cover the slopes so that every minute there’s a fall photo worth taking. One of the things that makes the Success Loop special are the dramatic cliffs that rise up in the distance, behind the foliage.

Success Loop Fall Foliage and Cliffs Peeking Out of Background, 10-5-23, Kim Wilkes
Success Loop Fall Color
Success Loop Fall Color, 10-5-23, Kim Wilkes

The trees that are still green are a healthy lime green, indicating they’re getting ready to put on a show, too.

If you’re the type of person who prefers to view red aspens, you’ll have your share of those on this road. If you like to stand under yellow aspens where the leaves shimmer like 24-karat gold, the Success Loop has those, too.

Success Loop Golden Aspens
Golden Fall Color on the Success Loop, 10-5-23, Kim Wilkes
Success Loop Scenic Drive Fall Color, 10-5-23, Kim Wilkes

About the Success Loop

This backcountry byway travels through the Schell Creek Range, a rugged group of mountains covered mostly in trees like pinyons and junipers—and, of course, aspens. From Cave Lake, the road starts at about 7,300 feet above sea level and climbs to just under 9,000 feet near Success Summit.

Green, Yellow, and Orange Aspens, Success Loop, 10-5-23, Kim Wilkes

You can take the Success Loop either from Cave Lake State Park to McGill or from McGill to Cave Lake. Starting at Cave Lake is really the way to go, since you’ll get to the fall color sooner. When you get to the end of it and reach Highway 93, turn left and drive through McGill back to Ely.

You’ll need a high-clearance vehicle. The road isn’t horrible, but a passenger car would struggle on parts of it. I drove it in our Toyota RAV4 SUV.

Success Loop Fall Color Update

Success Loop — Near Peak to Peak (60% of trees), Still Green (40% of trees)

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