"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Ouray, CO - "Little Switzerland of America"

Ouray, Colorado
Thistledown CG, Natl Forest
Ouray, Colorado is know as The Switzerland of America. The mountains and canyons surrounding Ouray are filled with some of the most unforgettable scenery. There are back roads and Scenic Byways. You can see vistas where old Hollywood westerns were filmed and explore high country ghost towns that were once booming mining cities. Ouray is known as “The Jeeping Capital of the World” with jeep roads, carved from historic wagon trails.  And it's pronounced "ya-RAY".  Not "YOU-ray" or "OO-ray". 

We found another favorite camping spot in the National Forest.  It's up a steep, dirt road, but if we can get there in our 5th wheel, most others can.  Only 8 spots and really, only #8 can fit something our size.  It was an easy in, easy out with lots of room.  We had good cell without boosting.
 $10, no utilities.  Be warned, this town is not too RV friendly unless you're staying in their private park.  They will charge you a $10 day use fee to use their laundry or dump or fill with water. (some county law they site). 

This campground sits right on the river, has nice hiking trails all around and some 4x4 roads.
All tucked into the trees, surrounded by huge mountains and STILL getting good cell.
A strong storm came in our first evening and the rain never let up.  Below are pics of the river level when we first got there (L) and the next morning (R).  We kept a close eye on it. 
The next morning Steve made some great French Toast and we headed out for a full day trip.  We are going to Silverton next and the road between Ouray and Silverton is a little hair raising.  It's called the Million Dollar Highway.
The Million Dollar Highway, part of the San Juan Byway is one of the nation’s most spectacular drives. Forget standard driving safety measures like guardrails and shoulders, there aren't any on this stretch. From Silverton to Ouray there is jaw-dropping vista after vista. It was cut from the side of the mountain and became know as the "Million Dollar Highway".  It's about 25 miles and climbs up to 3 very high mountain passes. Coal Bank, Molas and Red Mountain.  All 10K to over 11K in elevation.  More on this scary but gorgeous pass in the next couple of posts! 
We have read many comments on driving an RV over this route.  Most will not!  A big part of our drive today is to test out the road with just the truck to see if Steve is comfortable with it.
Would you drive a dually truck pulling a 16,000 lb. 5th wheel behind you on this?  Sometimes that white line is just inches from a 2000 foot drop.  Straight down!  Doesn't matter which way you go, you'll be on that drop off either way.
We loved the colors and shapes of the rocky canyons along the way.
Red Mountain.
The very cute town of Silverton.  Another beautiful Colorado town nestled in a little valley surrounded by huge mountains!  We drove around a bit but didn't stay long as it's a pretty long drive to and from here and a little stressful with that crazy road!  We also checked out a boondocking site we'll stay at just outside of Silverton.  That will be in a later post.  It's another winner!!
The drive was really pretty as the last time we came to Silverton, from Durango, it was April and non of the trees were leafed out and the mountains were covered in snow.

 We hiked the Box Canon trail where it met up with the Perimeter Trail (that's another post too).  A little scary walking over the bridge and looking down.  Hurley didn't like it either.

 Video of Box Canon Falls looking straight down.

Looking from the bridge back down to Ouray.
On the other side of the bridge you walk through a tunnel before continuing on the trail.
I thought this was an interesting home.  I guess they were fans of The Sword and the Stone?
Hurley playing with a stick.  One of his favorite things to do.  The bigger the better!
We met up for dinner at the Ouray Brewery where we met Mark and Bobbie of Box Canyon Blog.  They are big hikers and lovers of the outdoors and he is one fantastic writer!  Not to mention an amazing photographer.  Take a peak at his blog where you can see some of his work.  I had been reading a couple of his blog posts and wanted to pick his brain for some good hiking trails.  They were very nice and we wish we had time for more hiking!
Pretty cool stool swings.
Easy flowchart of beer making.
From the rooftop of the brewery you get fantastic views all around.
Mark & Bobbie
Next we hike Chief Ouray Mine Trail with Mike, Kathie & Opie of Life Rebooted.


  1. This area is in our plan for next year, late summer. We've been through with a motorcycle but not the MH and we haven't hiked yet. I've been following Mark and Bobbie for quite a while now and I just drool reading Mark's post. They are amazing hikers!! Your photos are so pretty:) Good idea to try the road without the load!

    1. Yes they sure are amazing hikers, writer & photographer!! We could've spent more time here as well. Looking forward to hearing about your hikes and pics next year!

  2. Lots of great pictures. Stay warm.

    1. We didn't start to hit some light snow until just recently at Silverton and Durango. Almost time to head south.

  3. I love a good driving challenge, but not those drop-offs without guard rails! So fun to meet up with Mark and Bobbie, I'm sure they were a wealth of info for that beautiful area. I can never remember how to pronounce the town, no matter how many times I see it! Is there a post missing between this and the Montrose post, or are Mike, Kathie and Opie pending?

    1. Oh you're so observant Jodee! I forgot that one post so I thought I'd pop it in. A bit out of order, oh well. Mike, Kathie and Opie are next!

  4. I bet the Aspens are full of golden splendor. Love your camp spot nestled on the creek too.

    1. We take the Durango/Silverton Railroad trip Wed. The colors should be fantastic!

  5. My goodness...that is such a beautiful area, Debbie. Great photos!

    1. Thanks Jim. Our next couple of blogs are some of our very favorite, beautiful places in CO. Can't wait to get them out.


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