On the Road Adventures

Friday, August 3, 2012

August 1 The Million Dollar Road

We’ve been debating which direction we are going to go from here.  Nothing really connects in a logical sequence, so there will probably be some back tracking down the road.  Among the places we have highlighted on our map of Colorado are Telluride and Ouray, but we have been having a hard time getting information on campgrounds and the roads.  There are a lot of people who just say “don’t take your rig on those roads!”  (You know how seriously we take such advice.)  However, the maps sure make the roads up to Telluride and over to Ouray look very squiggly.  And there are enough people who warn against the road between Ouray and Silverton that we are actually a little hesitant to try it.    So we decided to do a scouting run today.  Just up to Telluride, because the whole loop is 200 miles.               

332 map

The road climbed quickly and we came out of sage into mountain meadows and forests.  It was also blissfully cool.  Now, this is what Colorado is supposed to be like. 

We had a very productive stop at an information center run by the Forest Service, where we found all sorts of campgrounds and places where we could just pull off and boondock, if we were so inclined. And the road was just fine.  This was looking good.  We could move up into the forest near Telluride and then do short jaunts to Ouray and Silverton.  

335 Bridal Veil falls

All things considered, Ouray isn’t all that far away from Telluride.  We decided to go check out the road to Ouray.  Maybe we’d want to come down from the north to Ouray and make our base camp there if the road looks good.  The road does indeed look good, but Ouray is even smaller than Telluride, if less crowded, and do we even need to come back to Ouray since there isn’t a lot to do there if you aren’t into mountain bikes or ice climbing?  We had a truly excellent hamburger at Maggie’s Café, entertained by the owner’s 4-year old daughter, and decided to head back to Cortez.  When we put the RV park into the GPS, it told us the shortest route was to finish the circle.  This would give us a chance to scope out this famous Million Dollar Road between Ouray and Silverton, the one everyone, but EVERYONE, said not to take the rig.

343 Red Mt Pass

So now that we have driven the  San Juan Skyway all the way around the circle, we are tentatively crossing those destinations off the map.  Except the mountains were covered with miles and miles of aspen that will be really spectacular in the fall.  There are some interesting mine remnants (actually one of the Forest Service volunteers said she doesn’t know why the whole mountain doesn’t collapse there are so many mine shafts.)  So maybe a little later in our journey we’ll re-address the idea of spending some time in these mountains.  Who knows?  Certainly we don’t!

  348 Sun and clouds
332 Road to Telluride

We got to Telluride about lunch time, to find that Telluride is like Truckee, is like Northstar, is like Aspen, is like every other high-price ski resort that exists to separate the tourist from his money.  Hmmm.  And besides, it sits at over 10,000’ and I was getting light-headed just walking from the car to the gift shop in search of the mandatory Telluride pin.  The scenic claim to fame is Bridal Veil falls, so we ate our yogurt and beef jerky while we looked at the falls from the front seat of the car.  Now what?

337 Ouray from above

Okay, maybe once in a while EVERYONE gets it right.  Not that we couldn’t take Cleo on the road, which is a two-lane road on the edge of a mile drop off with no guard rails, but we decided we didn’t really want to do it.  We did see large trucks barreling along it, and even a couple of good sized motorhomes and if we had to we could do it.  But now we’ve seen Ouray, and we’ve seen Telluride, and we’re not sure that they really need to be on our ‘come back and stay awhile’ list.

Oh, and why is it called the Million Dollar Road?  Because, as one of the hand-outs put it, it was built in the 50’s when you could actually get 50 miles of mountain road for a measly million.

345 Red Mine

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