Ouray, CO – Sept 8 – 10, 2021

Our first day in Ouray, we arrived at the Ouray Riverside Resort campground early, so we had plenty of time to enjoy the town.  The campground is located about a mile from the center of town and is adjacent to the  Uncompahgre River, a tributary of the Gunnison River.  Though the campground does not have well-spaced sites with grass and trees, it does have full hook-ups, nice views of the surrounding mountains and is very close to town.  We had a riverside site where we could hear the rushing river.

We were especially excited to be in Ouray, because four years prior, we had hiked the Perimeter trail, a very steep, scenic and sometimes scary trail on the mountains surrounding town. On this particular stretch of the trail, there were some very steep drop-offs next to the narrow trail, as well as some bear tracks. I remember thinking about my life insurance policy and not wanting to be too close to Dave on the trail. I kept reminding myself of how much I know he loves me. After seeing the bear tracks I was afraid to be too far from him, but I was terrified on so many levels, especially when we came upon some teenage rock climbers who were climbing above us and could possibly fall and land on us. Yikes! We stopped for a break near a waterfall and met a couple from Ohio. They were retired teachers, but did not even look like they were 50 years old. They had an RV and were spending a month in Ouray. That could be us one day! We talked about that couple many times over the next few years.

We walked into town along a pathway next to the river. We passed the hot springs, but it was too hot to consider checking them out. Just as we walked into town we met a woman who asked about our logo gear. She was from Michigan and her father was a high level executive at GM. She was living in town with her husband for summer and near Torch Lake, MI the rest of the year.  We found an outdoor patio to enjoy a beer. A couple walked up to us and said “The last time we were in Ouray, 4 years ago, we met you at the brewery. We thought it was too strange a coincidence to not mention it.” They recognized our logo gear and had some of our stickers. They were from Glenn Arbor, MI, which is not far from our Northern Outpost.  These encounters made us feel that much more “at home” and glad to be back.

The next day we decided to check out Camp Bird Mine and Yankee Boy Basin. That is a very special place for us, as we back-packed from the mine to Blue Lakes Pass, where we set up camp and and climbed Mount Sneffels on our first Colorado trip in 1999 (camping is no longer allowed). We went up past the mine and found they now have restrooms to accomodate the many 4X4 tours. I was quite thankful! We found a decent place to park and walked up the 4X4 road into the Basin. It was as beautiful as we remembered it, but seemed far steeper. We hiked about 1.5 – 2 miles, climbing 1500 feet or more. How on earth did we hike 4 miles with full packs 22 years ago? There was a lot of 4X4 traffic and even a young couple in a rental car, who partially tore off their front clip, trying to drive over some boulders. They were laughing. We also met a couple of guys who were warming up for the Immogene Pass Run, that would take place two days later.

The drive back was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. This time, the steep drop-off from Camp Bird Road, into the canyon was on my side of the vehicle. The road was only wide enough for one vehicle in many places. I mostly kept my eyes closed and tightly clenched my fists, holding my breath. Dave says the road was greatly improved since 1999. It’s smoother and wider. Camp Bird Mine is now active again and it apprears they have people working on the road every day. Somehow, I don’t even remember the road in 1999. I guess I was really fearless back then.

We really enjoyed the rest of our time there. A highlight was dining at The Outlaw. It was truly the best meal I’ve had in years. The Rocky Mountain Trout and baked potato were cooked to perfection. Dave’s prime rib was just as good. The first few bites actually brought tears to my eyes. It had been so long since I had Rocky Mountain Trout or a good potato or a great meal in a restaurant. We will return to Ouray, just to eat there.

We also enjoyed the roof top patios at the Ouray brewery and the Immogene Hotel. We did some sightseeing, driving partially up U.S. 550, aka the Million Dollar Highway. We only drove part of it, but it helped us to confirm that we would not tow the RV on that road, because of steep grades and treacherous drop-offs. We met a newly retired GM couple from Michigan, who were touring the state in their brand new 5th wheel.

Before we departed Ouray on our last day, We walked into town to watch the start of the Immogene Pass Run. It’s a 17 mile course, starting in Ouray (7810′) and climbing 5304 feet over Immogene Pass (13,114′) (near Camp Bird Mine), ending in Telluride (8750′). It was pretty cool to see athletes of all ages showing up for this pretty extreme race.

Our full hook-up, riverside campsite at Ouray Riverside Resort
Ouray Hot Springs Park
Yankee Boy Basin sign
Yankee Boy Basin
Yankee Boy Basin
Yankee Boy Basin
Yankee Boy Basin
At Blue Lakes Pass 1999. I remember being a bit loopy and stumbling around from the altitude
Yankee Boy Basin 1999
Campsite At Blue Lakes Pass 1999
Yankee Boy Basin 1999
recreating the same photo in Yankee Boy Basin 2021 (or so we thought…)
Camp Bird Road
Camp Bird Road. I was too terrified to try to get good photos.
From the upper deck of the Ouray Brewery
Ouray, CO
The Outlaw, Ouray, CO
Rocky Mountain Trout dinner at The Outlaw, Ouray, CO
Prime Rib dinner at The Outlaw, Ouray, CO
The Outlaw, Ouray, CO
Uncompahgre River, Ouray, CO
View of Ouray from the Perimeter Trail
Ouray Perimeter Trail map
Waterfall on the Perimiter Trail 2017
Hiking the Perimeter Trail 2017
Ouray Lookout Point
The rooftop at The Immogene Hotel
View of town from the rooftop at The Immogene Hotel
The rooftop at The Immogene Hotel
Ouray, CO
Starting line for the Immogene Pass Run, Ouray, CO

Telluride, CO – Sept 1 – 7, 2021

I have been spending extra time on this post, since Telluride has been one of our favorite destinations since we first traveled there in 1999.  We started planning our first trip there, when we were still just friends. We have visited  at least 10 more times, since then. We almost bought a condo there (which would now be worth 10 times what it cost then).  Dave’s wedding ring has the mountains around Telluride engraved in it, a testament to its importance in our lives.

Matterhorn Campground is a US Forest Service campground, located about 10 miles south of the Telluride Ski area.  We planned our trip around this location, making sure we would have power for heat and would return to lower elevations before it snowed. At 8500′, it is our highest altitude campsite. It is one of very few campgrounds without an accurate map or overhead view on Google Maps, to enable selecting the best campsite. We were surprised to find that the campsite spacing was very irregular and that our site was exteremely close to our neighbor’s. While it is in a beautiful setting, and near Telluride, it was not our favorite campground.

The town of Telluride is at an altitude of 8750′.  It’s an historic mining town, which was still somewhat sleepy and quirky when we first visited. Since then, it has grown significantly and real estate is now for the wealthy, only. Surprisingly, it still does not feel too crowded (at least in the fall) and has not lost it’s original appeal to us. The gondola, the first and only free public transportation of its kind in the United States, runs year-round and provides a quick, free, scenic trip between town and Telluride Mountain Village, the ski area above town.

Our favorite activity there is hiking. There are many hikes that start right in town. This was the first time I could be well-acclimatized before hiking (or even walking around town), which made it a lot more fun for me. Unlike Dave, I definitely feel the affects of altitude. We were happy to hike our old favorites, as well as some new trails.

We were there during the Telluride Film Festival, which I imagine is one of the more low-key or laid-back film festivals. It didn’t really affect our visit too much. That is likely because “filmies” don’t seem to be into hiking. We had no trouble getting a table at our favorite restaurant, Esperanza’s (best Mexican food anywhere!) or a seat at the Last Dollar Saloon. The Historic New Sheridan Bar (est. 1885) is a bit more upscale, so we went there after the “filmies” left town.

We had a great time and hated to leave, but had many more fun destinations on our itinerary. Next stop, Ouray!

Matterhorn Campground, Ophir CO
Matterhorn Campground, Ophir CO
Matterhorn Campground, Ophir CO  This photo taken after our neighbor left. She was less than 10 feet to the right.. We had one of the worst two full-hook-up campsites here. Too close together! The next set of neighbors made a lot of unwelcome noise.

View of the campground from Galloping Goose trail

Taking the gondola from the Telluride Mountain Village, into town. It was the best way to find parking while the film festival was underway
The Jud Wiebe Trail is one of our all-time favorites. It’s a 3.1 mile loop, gaining 1,200 feet. Our AllTrails app counted about 4 miles total, including the walk through town and partway up Tomboy Road (also steep), where the trail begins. It’s rated as “moderate”, but the altitude of 9950′, can make it more challenging.
Jud Wiebe Trail, Telluride, CO
Jud Wiebe Trail, Telluride, CO
Jud Wiebe Trail, Telluride, CO
Jud Wiebe Trail, Telluride, CO
Telluride, CO
The Last Dollar Saloon rooftop
Ophir, CO Yes, this is the entire town.
View of Dallas Dive from Last Dollar Road. This is one of our favorite photo spots, especially with fall colors and snow in the mountains. (photo taken Sept. 2017)
Bridal Veil falls are the tallest free-falling falls in Colorado, at 365 feet in height, The hike is roughly 4 miles round trip on on a jeep road, with an elevation gain of 1360′. (photo taken Sept 2017)
View from the hike to Bridal Veil Falls (photo taken Sept 2017)
View of Telliuride from the gondola (photo taken Sept 2017)
Last Dollar Saloon, Telluride (photo taken Sept. 2017)
Hiking the Bear Creek Trail. The trail head is in town. It’s 4.6 miles (round trip), with a 1,140-ft. elevation gain. (Note: There are at least 2 different  Bear Creek trails in the area)
Bear Creek Falls, from the Bear Creek Trail, Telluride (Note: There are at least 2 different Bear Creek Falls and 2 Bear Creak trails in the area)
Lizard Head Trail, starting at Lizard Head Pass, altitude 10,222′
Lizard Head Trail, with Trout Lake in the background.
Walking the Idarado Legacy Trail, which runs between town and the Pandora Mill Site
Enjoying one last beer in town, at the Stronghouse Brew Pub