Southwestern Colorado, driving the high-passes – Labor Day, 2012

For labor day week we decided to spend some time in the Southwestern Colorado area. Having gotten a bit of a taste on previous trips – spending couple days in Telluride and Durango, we wanted to explore a little more seriously.

We drove into Durango on Saturday, which was hosting a biker rally that provided some cool bikes to look at before dinner at Cosmopolitan. Sunday was a ride on Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, which provided some amazing scenery. Silverton is terribly touristy, but the Montanya Rum Bar was a nice lunch and great drinks.

On Monday we began some of the offroading with a ride up XXX Mountain overlooking Silverton. It was a seriously vertical climb, over mostly scree but rewarded us with some amazing views from high over Silverton.

After leaving Silverton we continued up to Ouray, enjoying some short trails that more or less paralled the highway. We camped for a night in the Amplitheatre Campground overlooking the town. Unfortunately that campground while nice just wasn’t great and we opted to change up our schedule a bit so that we didn’t spend additional nights there.

Tuesday was a fairly long day on the trail – heading south from Ouray and eventually working our way over Corkscrew Pass, Hurrican Pass, California Pass and Engineer Pass on our way to Lake City. Again our plans for camping were foiled – this time by a recent bear attack in the area. We spent Tuesday night caming at a nice RV Park in Lake City – which made things easy.

Wednesday was back over the mountains towards Ouray, this time via Cinnamon Pass. A short spur up Eureka Gulch brought wonderful views and some great old tram stations left over from the old mining operations. We got into Ouray in time to enjoy sunset from the rooftop bar of the Ouray Brewery.

Thursday we headed out to Telluride over Imogene Pass – the highest pass we’d tackle on this trip and the most challenging trail by a fair bit – though still nothing a stock SUV couldn’t handle. The view from the top of Imgoene was stunning – probably our favorite trail of the trip.

Had a great dinner at Floradora Saloon, and a nice room at the New Sheridan hotel in Telluride. Had some excellent cocktails at the always fun Tomboy Tavern up at the resort.

Friday we headed out early to get up to Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Pretty park, but we probably didn’t hit it at the best time of the day. As we got in later in the afternoon, much of the canyon was in shadow. we were a bit disappointed by the campground – which had no cover to speak of.

Saturday we headed home after enjoying a really nice week in the area. Still tons of trails we haven’t been able to explore – but getting to run the popular ones was a great introduction to the area.

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