Colorado Fall Color 2013 Part IV: Ouray and the San Juan Mountains (Oct 5-8)

On Saturday morning we decided to visit the San Juan's for a few days so packed up a few things and were on our way before noon. En route, we booked one of the last rooms in town at the Ouray Victorian Inn.

Mike picked up a couple things at a funky little camera shop in Montrose, then we headed west at Ridgway towards the beautiful Dallas Divide.

Sneffels range viewed from Dallas Divide, near Ridgway, Colorado

The next stop was Telluride to ride the free gondola up to Mountain Village and back down. It made us happy to be sharing our car with local “gondola commuters”. In the summer when parking is tough in Telluride you can park on the other side of Mountain Village and ride the gondola in to town. 

Telluride, viewed from the free gondola

After a quick dinner at the Telluride Brewing Company, we drove on to Ouray via Last Dollar Road. Tina performed well on the wet and snowy road, but I did not. We may need to upgrade to a higher clearance 4WD vehicle in the near future.

Along Last Dollar Road

We checked in to our room and learned we had just missed the Ouray Oktoberfest, but the fireworks were yet to come. Soon we were treated to a wonderful display of light and sound echoing off the canyon walls, viewed right from the balcony of our room.

Sunday Mike had a great itinerary planned, starting with a drive up to Crystal Lake for sunrise. 

Crystal Lake after sunrise

After breakfast, we took three very scenic drives on some back roads off of Colo 62 west of Ridgway. County Roads 5 and 9 were our favorites, but we also look forward to hiking from trailhead a at the end of CR 5.

View from CR5 near Ridgway, Colorado

Dinner at Ouray Brewery was mostly good and we liked the ambience, but we'd sit on the upstairs patio next time if it was warmer.

After spending yesterday in the car, we stayed in town Monday and enjoyed local attractions. Box Canyon Falls is mandatory when in Ouray, and it is now incorporated into the newer Ouray Perimeter Trail. We need to go back in the summer to see nesting Black Swifts!

The Beaumont Hotel in Ouray

Box Canyon Falls near Ouray
Ouray, viewed from the upper trail at Box Canyon Falls

We relaxed at the base of Cascade Falls in the afternoon.

Cascade Falls, Ouray

On our way to dinner, we were sidetracked at the Ouray Alchemist museum. Kurt has quite a collection of pharmaceutical artifacts and gave a most interesting tour.

Dining at The Outlaw Restaurant was especially enjoyable because of the skill and wide repertoire of the pianist.

We also enjoyed taking Camp Bird Road and part of the nearly-4WD road to Yankee Boy Basin.

Atlas Mine and Stamp Mill, on the way to Yankee Boy Basin

The road down from Yankee Boy Basin

Tuesday we took the long way home completing the full San Juan skyway loop in about 8 hours. The terrain was beautiful and varied as we drove through Silverton, Durango, Dolores, Rico, and Lizard Head Pass. We barely scratched the surface and will definitely be back. 

Street in Silverton, Colorado

Silverton, view from the road to Durango

The historic Strater Hotel in Durango, Colorado

Strater Hotel lobby

An antiques co-op in little Dolores, Colorado

Antique post card of Big Thompson Canyon entrance; purchased at the Dolores antique store

Trout Lake along Hwy 145, near Lizard Head Pass

Fall color along Hwy 145 near Ophir Pass

Along the road near Ophir Pass

We had one last look at the Dallas Divide before stopping for dinner at the little Colorado Boy Pub & Brewery. Great pizza! Then back to our home away from home in Crested Butte.

Mt Sneffels at Dallas Divide
Crescent Moon near Last Dollar Road

We missed visiting Mesa Verde and Black Canyon of the Gunnison because of the pointless government shutdown. Meanwhile back home in Estes Park people were protesting the closure of Rocky Mountain National Park.

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