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.