Thistledown Natl. Forest CG
As we go back and forth a few times over the Million Dollar Highway, we have decided that we're going to drive it to get to Silverton. If we leave during the week, in the morning, there isn't much traffic. During the worst curves, we can just drive in the middle of the road as you can see well enough ahead. The maximum speed limit is 25 in this section.
The exciting ride between Ouray and Silverton. Narrow, windy, steep cliffs. Beautiful scenery but very scary to drive a 40 foot 5th wheel down.
A memorial to 3 snowplow drivers who lost their lives plowing this crazy road.
The river that runs at the bottom of this gorge is goldish-yellow in color due to the minerals in the soil. The rocks along the river's edge are a rusty red.
The Riverside Snow Shed protects against avalanches.
Not for the faint of heart.
The road is carved out of the mountain right on the edge.
Incredibly, truckers use this route all the time!
The colors and mountain geology are very interesting in this gorge.
The ripples in this section are from tilting and eroding.
The Bear Creek Falls Overlook. Are you afraid of heights? It sticks out over the cliff, with a breathtaking view of the falls. You can see through the grating to the bottom. Kind of scary!
A beautiful shade of blue in the pool.
At the edge looking down.
The other famous lookout point.
We had a couple nice trails across from our campsite. Hurley and I took off for a short, steep hike up the mountain before the next storm came in. I should've brought my bear spray as the woods were really thick in this area and that makes me a little uncomfortable when I can't see well. So I had to use my combo whistle/clap method. We came to a little clearing in the Aspen, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw it! A bear? Or Big Foot? What the heck?
As I zoomed in my camera...
I could see it was just the color of the bark on the Aspen tree. Sure got my attention though!
Later in the week we decided to hike the Perimeter Trail. About 4 1/2 miles it circumnavigates the small town. The weather wasn't looking too promising so we brought our rain gear.
After you cross the bridge and hike through the old tunnel, you come out the other side to a small waterfall after a short distance. There are some steep, narrow points so you need to be careful.
Great views of town from every point.
Once across the bridge it isn't too long before you drop down into town.
You walk through a few streets before you get to Main St. where you cross to the other side of town. It is not well marked and took us a few wrong turns before we figured it out.
The houses in this area are built right up against the mountains and have Scandinavian construction.
Built in 1896.
This house was built right up against a huge boulder that had stairs leading to a nice lookout on top.
Some homes have names.
The rain decided to let loose and we hiked back up to the trail to where our truck was parked. It was about the same distance whether we stayed on the trail or hiked up the road. The trail on the last half is the narrowest and just not safe to hike on in the rain and mud.
Another big event here is The Heritage Mining contest which usually includes double-jack, single-jack, spike drilling, hand mucking and machine mucking. Both men and women compete in hand mucking and spike driving. The prize for All Around Miner has reached as high as $10,000.
It was a very small event but attended by quite a few people. They really take their mining competition seriously too.
This woman finished shoveling in record time.
The runner up also did a great job.
The last thing we have planned for Ouray is an all day jeep ride on the Alpine Loop. We checked out part of the trail. Another beautiful waterfall. It starts on one side of the road
goes under the road through a rock tunnel
then down over the cliff side.
We will actually be doing this drive in the opposite direction starting in Ironton near Red Mtn. Pass, driving through many old mining towns and having lunch at Lake City on the other side before driving back to Ouray.
Definitely need a high clearance vehicle. We'll be renting a jeep in town for the day.
Our transportation for tomorrow! Stay tuned.