The hike out to the car went by quickly. We packed up the Jeep and continued our trip around the Alpine Loop. Today’s drive took us up and over Cinnamon Pass. The road was fun and quite a bit easier than expected. Unfortunately, the traverse was accompanied by a steady cold drizzle which meant I didn’t get any good photos. We made it down to the ghost town of Animas Forks, but in the rain we didn’t bother to visit. We expected the drive down to Silverton to be nice, but it was quite bumpy. We cruised through town and traversed up and over the Million Dollar Highway. I consider this the most beautiful paved road in Colorado, but it still isn’t as nice as the Alpine Loop.
The Million Dollar Highway took us to the town of Ouray. Ouray, known as the “Switzerland of America,” is my favorite town in Colorado. Another old mining town, it’s filled with old Victorian houses, art galleries, and shops. Hot springs, too! It’s a tourist town to be sure, but one without a ski area. The big attractions are 4WD driving, hiking, and ice climbing. The snobby rich people go to Telluride and Crested Butte, the friendly down-to-earth folks go to Ouray. The shops sell outdoor gear, not Gucci handbags, and the streets are filled with Jeeps, not Jaguars.
We arrived at the Twin Peaks Lodge and were happy to find out that they had rooms for two nights. While not luxurious, it’s clean, comfortable, and friendly, and comes complete with pool and hot springs. We organized gear, relaxed in the water, and took much needed showers.
I often joke that the Ouray Brewery is my Happy Place, but the truth is, I’m not joking. In addition to great beer and great food, the rooftop bar provides spectacular views over the town and the surrounding San Juan mountains. The best part is the friendly crowd. Tonight we ended up making friends with a Christian biker gang from the midwest. One of them, Brett, shares a birthday with me, and he took some “birthday twin” pictures. The punchline is that he was at least a foot taller and 150 pounds heavier than me. The magic of Ouray!
The annotated map above comes from the Colorado Department of Transportation. But I found it thanks to Joe Adams from the highly recommended Dangerous Roads website.
This is a series of posts about what I have dubbed the “No Agenda Vacation” from August 2018. I’ll chronicle our 13-day road trip through the southern Colorado mountains with stories and photos. With luck you’ll see a new post on roughly a weekly basis.