Today was a another driving day. We had a prefect clear sunny weather which I figured would be good for the long distance views.
We headed directly south on the scenic San Juan Skyway through the towns of Ouray and Silverton turning around at Durango. It is about 90 miles from the campground to Durango but it took us about about three hours to get there. We stopped a lot but the main reason is that you have to go up and over three 10,000+ foot passes. That means a lot of 25 mph section with switchbacks galore.
The section from Ouray to Silverton is called the Million Dollar Highway. I have heard many reasons for the name. It was expensive to build. There were a lot of very profitable mines in the area. The million dollar views. etc.
Unfortunately a lot of the picture didn’t work out today. The interesting parts, like the switchbacks, are very narrow with very few if any places to pull over. Consequently we relied on through the windshield pictures, most of which were ruined by reflections from the dashboard. We will be back over the section to Silverton so we will try and do better next time.
Heading through Ouray.
The switchbacks start right at the end of town. Here is a view back down.
After climbing for a while we stopped at the viewpoint down to some falls that ran under the highway. This picture is from the way back when the sun was shining on it.
And a rainbow.
There was a viewing platform that hung out over the canyon.
Jennie likes waterfalls so much that even she went out.
There was a ribbon waterfall on the other wall of the canyon. The moon is just over the top of the mountain. You can also see the platform at the right.
We passed by one of the 4wd roads I had thought about trying.
It looked pretty rough. We may have to think about renting a Jeep for a day.
Heading up to 11,000 foot Red Mountain Pass.
Here is another of the side roads. It looks like it wiggles it way straight up that valley.
We stopped at an overview of one of the old mines.
A close up of the head frame at the center of the picture above.
Then we headed down into the town of Silverton.
As we headed south we got a better view back to Silverton.
There is a narrow gauge scenic railway that runs between Silverton and Durango along the bottom of a gorge. On the way home we saw it leaving town.
We are debating about whether to take a ride. It is very slow and takes all day. The cheapest ticket is $85.
Notice the marmot (I think) surveying the scene from the rock in the lower left of the picture above.
We are now climbing up 10,800 foot Molas Pass. This is the viewpoint at the top.
Down and then up 10,600 foot Coal Bank Pass.
Once we were heading down this third pass the drive to Durango was kind of wide open and flat. We went the rest of the way just to say we had. I also needed some gas and a DQ Blizzard and some BBQ for supper, it turns out.
On the way into Durango we had seen a weird coloured mound beside the road. On the way back we stopped to investigate.
It is the output of a nearby hot spring. I think has been piped here to discharge near the highway as a tourist attraction.
Heading back we got caught behind some very slow climbing logging trucks but each time we pulled off at a viewpoint so they weren’t a problem for long. Besides, who wants to drive fast with scenery like this.
The guy in the white truck did. He would sit it on my bumper for a while, race past, then stop at a view point and repeat … Until he got caught in the line behind the big truck.
We had a nice but brief sunset. The colour only lasted about 2 minutes.