Dolores was an unexpected but much needed stop. We pulled over to a local park with a playground filled with kids playing and picnic tables where families were gathered eating lunch. We got out and found a place off the beaten path that led us down to the river where we made sandwiches. Clint wadded out and fished while I threw sticks into the river for Jude to fetch.
No surprise here, Durango is beautiful. After a few hours on the road we stopped to explore the Animas River. There had been a recent spill in the river and the pollution turned the water yellow. Luckily volunteers, experts, and mother nature returned the river back to it’s natural state.
After walking by the river we made our way to downtown. We walked along main street and window shopped, poked our heads into bars, and watched he train come through town. We grabbed lunch and a few beers at Steamworks Brewing Company.
With full bellies we hit the road again and ventured on to our next stop, Dolores.
The drive west from Ouray can only be described in one word: breathtaking.
It was literally breathtaking from the thin oxygen at the high altitude. We were in the clouds on U.S. Route 550, a road commonly known as the Million Dollar Highway. We were on the section dubbed the Trail of the Ancient Byway. The road stood up to it’s reputation. We got some haze and rain along the way to Silverton where we stopped to refuel our bodies.
Silverton was a tiny town we could see down from the road for miles. We stopped for coffee and a muffin at what seemed to be the only coffee shop in the town that looked like a scene out of an old western movie. We wandered down to the “Highest” Harley Davidson store, and window shopped as we stretched our legs. Quick stop and we were back on the road.
Ouray didn’t work out as planned. I thought leaving work two hours early would land us at the base of Mt. Sneffels to set up camp for the night and put us right where we needed to be to get an early start of hiking. GPS said it would take just under 6 hours. It actually took about 8 to arrive in the town just before dark. Following both the map and phone GPS, we ventured down a dirt road with camp sites scattered on each side, so it looked promising. With Clint driving we continued down the dirt road and got to a split where we went right, still following the map. The road quickly turned into what was clearly for off road 4 wheel drive machines and not our Mazda sedan. Obviously we should have gone left at the split, so we backtracked. After a few minutes on the right road we came to a small river running across in front of us. This was not the right road either and we did some more backtracking. We decided to check out one of the spots we passed on the way in only to find that every site was taken. It was now 12:45am. We made a new plan to crash in the car on the side of the road, wake up early, head back in town and ask a local for directions to the trailhead of Mt. Sneffels.
Clint woke up early to follow through with the plan while I slept like a baby in the passenger seat. Apparently it was impossible to get the trailhead without a 4 wheel drive vehicle. We had to abort the Mt. Sneffels mission and continue on. But first, we stopped for pictures.