San Jaun Mountains, Colorado
8/10 - 8/13/2006
(Photos by Kurt & Candace Williams)

Day 1:

Candace and I spent a couple hours loading up, met up with Tom, Dave and Monique, and were on the road by 10:30 Thursday morning. We made quick time though Price and over to Grand Junction where we stopped for lunch. From Grand Junction we turned south and passed through several neat towns on our way to Ouray. We pulled into town just after 5pm and got acquainted with our campground. Camp went up quick and we headed into town to check out Ouray. 

Ouray is a small town, held tightly by mountains on all sides, a narrow canyon to the north of town contains the road into town as well as the river heading out of town. Plenty of shops to keep the girls happy, and enough history and culture to keep my interests perked. Back in camp that night we enjoyed a warm campfire with plenty of story telling from Richard whom was camping just a few spots away. 

Day 2:

We met up with the rest of the club in Ouray proper, and made quick time to the Black Bear Pass trailhead which is ~30 minutes south of town. We aired down the tires, snapped a couple of pictures and made tracks for the pass. The first half of the route seemed to take longer than anticipated, though all things said we moved at a steady pace. Through the pass and we were on our way down the steep face to Telluride. The trail is literally carved into the hillside making an amazing descent into town. We made a few stops along the last half of the trail at mines to check things out. After arriving into Telluride, we located a place to grab lunch before heading back out on the trail.

Telluride is a splendid town, much like a smaller more secluded main street in Park City, Utah. Small shops and diners compliment the buildings, many of which were constructed in the late 1800’s and first part of the 20th century. Thankfully we had a tight schedule to keep, otherwise the girls would have spent the better part of a day browsing through the quaint shops the town has to offer.

Lunch took longer than anticipated, so we notified the others to proceed without us, Tom and I figured we could catch up. The Imogene Pass trailhead is right in downtown Telluride, we had to wind through the streets to get to the trailhead but within minutes we were back on the trail. The trail wasted no time climbing back up to the high elevations, our next stop would be the Tomboy mine area where we guessed we would catch the rest of the group. As we were approaching the Tomboy site mine (a mile or so before the Tomboy site), we were stopped by another group of wheelers who notified us there were several bears rummaging around on the opposite side of the canyon. What a site to see five bears in their natural habitat, seemingly unbothered by the presence of humans and human impact throughout the canyon. Back on the trail we were at the Tomboy in minutes, amazing what little is left standing at the hands of mother nature and vandals. 

We spent a few minutes poking around the Tomboy area and moved on to catch up with the group as they made their attack at the pass, by the last climb to Imogene Pass we had caught up with the group. We spent a couple minutes at the top, chatting and snapping photographs, and then it was back on the trail for the descent back into Ouray. The last half of the trail moved rather quickly, we passed Upper Camp Bird Mine, several other scenic mine sites and stopped a couple times for some exploration. Soon we were back on the highway to Ouray. Another night spent chatting around the campfire!

Day 3:

Once again we met in town and followed our leader (Richard) to the Mineral Creek trailhead. The Mineral Creek trail was fairly tame, though it had several scenic mines to check out along the way. After reaching the end of Mineral Creek, we headed east over Engineer Pass, another amazing pass carved into the mountain. From Engineer Pass we dropped down into Lake City, another scenic “turn of the century” town loaded with history. After a quick lunch, we were back on the highway headed for the Cinnamon Pass Trailhead, just south of town.

Cinnamon Pass was another amazing work of engineering and bravery alike, roads cut in the hillsides of the 14000 plus foot peaks that surround this area. We made excellent time up and over Cinnamon Pass, and with daylight to spare we spent a bit of time exploring the ruins of Animas Forks. Animas Forks is one of the more scenic ghost towns I have every visited, a must see for anyone visiting the area. From Animas Forks, we ventured into yet another amazing town, Silverton. Silverton is the end point of the narrow-gauge railroad that extends south to Durango. The town’s livelihood today is largely due to the business the railroad (and the tourist it hauls) brings to the otherwise sleepy town. Many of the roads off of “Main” are still dirt and there are just a few places to shop and dine along the town’s main drag. The club decided to grab dinner in Silverton, rather than wait until Ouray. We settled for a nice restaurant on main and had a great dinner with even greater company.

Post dinner we decided to travel over Corkscrew Gulch back into Ouray, what an excellent decision. With just the right amount of sunlight to spare, we climbed back into the mountains and landed back on the highway into Ouray with just as the sun hid behind the mountains. We said our goodbye’s in Ouray and our group made tracks back to the campground for another night around the campfire. 

Day 4:

We vetoed cooking breakfast, plus we were out of several things so a trip to the store would have been needed. The KOA where we were stating had a small diner that served a decent breakfast, our eyes were far bigger than our stomachs but we were satisfied. After breakfast the girls decided they had to do some shopping in Ouray, I agreed knowing it would be a good chance for me to find a good book or neat map. We spent several hours in Ouray; I enjoyed exploring some of the old buildings and their original turn of the century storefronts. 

After spending a couple hours in Ouray, we decided to try out the Bachelor-Syracuse Mine Tour which came highly recommended by several folks in town. The mine is located just above town at the site of the century old mine. The BS mine was operational as late as the 1980’s, but a plummeting silver price made recovery too costly, thus the tour business was sprung. We traveled ~3500 feet into the mountain on a mine cart converted for passenger use. At the end of the tracks our tour operator displayed the evolution of mine tools and techniques and allowed us to poke our heads around the mine workings. All in all the cost of the tour ($15 per person) was extremely well spent and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone interested in mining or history alike. 

With a long drive ahead of us, we decided to get on the road as soon as possible and find a diner along the way. We had decided to travel back to SLC via La Sal and Moab, which lead us to Paradox, CO for dinner. The drive seemed to take just an hour or so longer, but the scenery was far better than the Grand Junction route we had traveled to get there. A couple of gas stops along the way and we were back in SLC by 10pm Sunday night. Another adventurous weekend on the books!


Ouray - Colorado

Camping at the KOA, Ouray - Colorado

Ouray - Colorado

Ouray - Colorado

Ouray - Colorado

Ouray - Colorado

Ouray - Colorado

Ouray - Colorado

Black Bear Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Black Bear Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Black Bear Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Black Bear Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Black Bear Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Black Bear Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Black Bear Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Black Bear Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Black Bear Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Black Bear Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Black Bear Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Black Bear Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Black Bear Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Black Bear Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Black Bear Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Black Bear Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Black Bear Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Black Bear Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Black Bear Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Black Bear Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Black Bear Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Black Bear Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Black Bear Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Black Bear Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Black Bear Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Black Bear Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Black Bear Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Imogene Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Imogene Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Imogene Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Imogene Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Imogene Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Imogene Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Imogene Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Imogene Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Imogene Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Imogene Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Imogene Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Imogene Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Imogene Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Imogene Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Imogene Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Imogene Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Imogene Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Imogene Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Black Bear Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Imogene Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Lower Camp Bird Mine, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Imogene Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Mineral Point, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Mineral Point, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Mineral Point, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Mineral Point, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Mineral Point, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Engineer Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Engineer Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Engineer Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Lake City, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Lake City, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Cinnamon Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Cinnamon Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Cinnamon Pass, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Animas Forks, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Animas Forks, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Animas Forks, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Animas Forks, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Animas Forks, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Silverton, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Bachelor Syracuse Mine, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Bachelor Syracuse Mine, San Juan Mountains - Colorado

Driving Home

Driving Home

Until the next time...

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