Sunday, May 15, 2016

Ridgway-Ouray, CO (5/13/2016)

Taking a break from the business of negotiating real estate, I decided to drive to Ridgway and Ouray, two towns near the San Juan Mountain range.  After all, it was this proximity to scenic areas that inspired me to choose Montrose for my new home.  Ridgway is about 25 miles south of Montrose, while Ouray is another 10 miles beyond that.

I took the back roads to Ridgway, knowing I was in for a bumpy ride.  The road that goes on top of the plateau is never in good shape, but was especially pot-holed so soon after winter's wear and tear.  The good thing about that route is the elevated view of the San Juans and the Cimarron Range to the east.  I wanted to try for a really wide view in hopes of printing a large canvas picture of it for the new home.  No lens of mine is wide enough to get the whole scene, so I took three images and stitched them together to make a photo capable of making a print nearly ten feet wide.  I'm not sure I can get it printed as one, so I may have to break it up again into three pictures.  What you see here is a much, much smaller version.

Descending from the plateau, I noticed a large building I had never seen before.  I don't know if it's a huge home or some other kind of building.  More research is needed on that.

I drove to an area called the "Dallas Divide", where I knew I could get good views of the mountains.

On the way, I passed one entrance to the 17,000 acre Double RL Ranch.  If you are getting tired of seeing mountains here, just think how Ralph and Ricky Lauren must feel having to look at this scene all the time they are in their vacation home.  In addition to a luxurious main house and many out buildings, they provide five fully-furnished teepees for their guests who want to "rough" it.

Next, I drove up County Road 7, a favorite location of mine.  The small private pond along the way was surprisingly low this time, but the snow melt will soon take care of that.

I finally reached my spot, some seven miles up that bumpy road, where you come face to face with a scenic basin.  As you can see, at this elevation, the aspen trees are still bare.  In the fall, this is a wonderful location.

I then drove on toward Ouray, one of the coolest little towns you will ever see.  It's always a thrill to approach town and begin to see why it is called "Switzerland of America".

A bare patch on the cliff reminds us how much gold and silver was taken from the mountains over many years.  There is still gold in these mountains, but to capture it would require tearing down most of the mountains, which just wouldn't be worth it.  The waterfall is one of many cascading down these mountainsides.
The highway from Ouray to Silverton is known as the "Million Dollar Highway", built by a man named Otto Mears as a toll road that enabled mines to transport their ore to Otto's railroad (which couldn't make it all the way over Red Mountain Pass).  It is considered one of the twelve most dangerous roads in the world due to narrow, steep, curving roadways with no guard rails.  As one of only two north-south highways in Colorado's western slope, it is critical that it remain open.  Unfortunately, avalanches are a common occurrence and often sweep vehicles off the road into the deep gorges.  This is especially hazardous for truck drivers and those brave men who drive the snow plows.  Many have lost their lives in their efforts to clear the road.  Where avalanches are most frequent, a concrete shed has been built to deflect snow over the roadway.
Bear Creek Falls is always a popular stop along the road at one of the few places where there is adequate room for parking.  This time of year, there is another waterfall on the opposite side of the canyon.

Red Mountain Creek shows its origins in the Red Mountains, which have plenty of iron ore that oxidizes (rusts) and turns everything a reddish color.

Seen from Crystal Lake, the snow is hiding all the red rock for which the three Red Mountains are named.
The Million Dollar Highway is part of a 235 mile loop called the San Juan Scenic Byway.  I'm sure I'll be sharing more of this beautiful road with you now that I'll be living so close.

1 comment:

  1. Oh that is so beautiful . . . Colorado/Idaho mtns share with Oregon/Washington coast for my favorite places . . . we drove the million dollar highway in the rig and coasted into the campground at the bottom on a wing and a prayer . . . brakes were steaming and just about locked up . . . I don't remember exactly what was wrong but I remember someone having to come over and do something to them when they cooled down . . . I agree that Ouray is picture perfect . . . glad you're settling there . . means lots of mtn pictures in the future