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Ouray Colorado Vacation Guide and Trip Planning Information for SW Colorado

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Southwest Colorado Adventure

  
  
  

Fall Colors are still Awesome in the San Juan Mountains!

opirpassAfter posting the most recent color update from the San Juan National Forest, it seemed only reasonable to go out and see for ourselves. The weather was cooperating, and the roads calling, so, jumping in the jeep, we began our adventure.

ophirpass2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Driving the Million Dollar Highway to Silverton was, as always, breathtakingly beautiful, even though the colors are past peak. Still, driving past groves of aspen that have lost most of their leaves is a marvelous precursor to the colors on the other side of the mountain.

ophirpass3

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having enjoyed a leisurely lunch in Silverton, and adding a little gas to ensure a pressure free day of exploring, we headed back to the Ophir Pass entrance.

lastdollar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quickly, the landscape began to change, and suddenly, we were gazing at mountaintops covered in the first blanket of snow.

lastdollar2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the top, one last twist in the trail offered an amazing view of reds and golds in the valley below. Standing in a sudden flurry of snow, perhaps, the pictures were taken a little quickly.

lastdollar3

 

 

Traveling through a forest of trees shedding leaves in a surreal display, it was difficult to remember to click the camera, the rainbow of Fall surrounding us in its peaceful beauty.

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Jumping on Highway 145 for just a short time, we opted to drive Last Dollar Road, and were rewarded with more spectacular scenery with every mile. Turning back at one point, the contrasts of color were a sight to behold. As we returned to the highway at the base of Dallas Divide, we still had not had enough.

cambirdroad3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taking County Road 17 back to Ouray, once again, colors burst at every turn, and quickly, the decision was made to make the most of the daylight left to us and we turned onto Camp Bird Mine Road for yet another breathtaking display of Mother Nature.

whirlwindofleaves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deer on the mountainside paused as we gasped at their magnificence, obviously taking for granted the scenery around them. Just a few miles up the road, just after a rock overhang, we decided to turn back, and found ourselves caught in a storm of leaves as the wind blew colors across the road in a dance to music we could not hear.

Traveling back toward Ouray, it was obvious that although winter is definitely gazing hungrily at the high country, there are still so many roads to explore and sights to see.

fall tubsBack at the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs, a long soak in the soothing mineral hot springs was the perfect way to enhance our appetites for a delicious meal in one of the great restaurants on Main Street, before heading back for a movie and relaxation.

A day in Ouray County and the surrounding area is always an adventure. Whether you choose to drive the back roads, hike the Perimeter Trail, rappel through a waterfall, or climb an ice filled gorge, the adventure never stops, and the days are still long enough to enjoy many activities.

 

Contact UsFor The PerfectFall Escape!

October in Ouray County - the leaves are still falling! - update 10-10

  
  
  

Fall Leaves Update for Southwest Colorado

fallfirstsnowIt seems as if the colors on the Million Dollar Highway between Ouray and Silverton have passed their peak, but that's not to say the leaves have done changing!

The lower altitudes are still vibrant with oakbrush and still some aspen - the reds and golds and faded greens blending int a rainbow of Fall.

fallphotographerAs the colors change, so does the weather, but the jeep roads are still open, and the scenery magnificent in a whole new way.

There are still colors to be seen all around, so if you missed peak on the Million Dollar Highway, never fear!

fall red mtn pass.5msSan Juan National Forest Fall Color Report 2014 as of 10/10/2014:

Date: 10/10/14

Estimated Percentage of Current Fall Foliage:
Durango to Purgatory – 90% aspens peaking
Molas Pass - past peak
Silverton/Red Mountain Pass – past peak
Pagosa –70% aspens high, 90% cottonwoods along river 
Dolores to Rico – 85% peaking
Mancos – 90% peaking

jeep tourAreas with Greatest Amount of Color / Recommended Viewing Areas:


Purgatory to Durango.  Williams Creek Reservoir. 
North of Mancos.  West Dolores


Estimated Peak Viewing Period:

High country this weekend should be getting lower.  8-9,000 feet

The slightly lower areas below 8,000 ft look good.  Pagosa, Dolores, Mancos changing fast.

leavesViewing Suggestions / Tips:

This may be the last good weekend.
 

Trees That Are Currently Turning Color:

Aspens, oakbrush.  Willows and cottonwoods starting.

For More Information on Fall Colors Please Contact:

San Juan Public Lands Center, Durango (970) 247-4874

 

Why Do Leaves Change Color?

Rocky Mountain Region Fall Color page link
National Forest Service Color Finder page link

 

The 4WD roads are still open as well, and there are some companies who are taking guests for a snowfall tour! This is a little shorter than the typical half day, and a little less expensive as well. Give us a call at the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs, and we will get your adventure arranged for you!

See You Soon!

Contact UsFor The PerfectFall Escape!

High Adrenaline Adventures in Ouray Any Time of Year

  
  
  

From Ice Climbing To Canyoning, The Waterfalls in Ouray Beckon 

fall san juansFall is gradually turning to winter. As the evenings become cooler, and the mornings more brisk, the land waits impatiently for the first snow. Fall colors still bloom at lower altitudes, and some leaves are clinging tenaciously in the high country, but we all know the season is about to change again.

ourayiceparkmapMembers of the Ice Park have begun to prepare for the cold, promising an early season as long as Mother Nature cooperates. Of course, it is still far too early to begin farming ice, but there is much to do before then.

ourayice2Once the ice forms, the silence in the park is deafening, as athletes concentrate on proper placement of axe and boot, ever conscious of the spotter below. Onlookers watch in quiet amazement as climbers contort their bodies to best experience the climb. As if in defiance of gravity, the experts traverse ice as smooth and clear as glass, deep in the Uncompahgre Gorge.

ourayiceJanuary marks the 20th Annual Ouray Ice FestivalThis gathering is attended by ice climbers from around the world, as well as industry sponsors, inspiring speakers, and the world’s top exhibition climbers. 

ouraycanyoningSo, what is an Ice Climber to do when there is no ice? Well, rock climbing is quite popular, and becoming ever more so in and around Ouray. There is also a sport that is beginning to become more and more popular with every season: Canyoning, or Canyoneering

ouraycanyoning2Combining hiking, climbing and rapelling, Canyoneering adds the element of water. Yes. Canyoneers begin by hiking to a waterfall, which they climb to the top of, then rapell through the water to the base. Not much is missing in this adrenaline pumping sport. 

ouraycanyoning4For the past five years, Ouray has hosted a canyoning festival each August. Steadily, the number of Canyoneers has grown, and in 2015, Ouray will host the Rendezvous International for Canyoning (RIC). We will welcome athletes from around the world as they join us and explore the amazing canyons and waterfalls in the region. The final day of the festival will be highlighted with the Annual City of Ouray Grillin & Chillin Festival in Felin Park.

Whether travelling to Ouray in the Spring, Summer, Fall or Winter, there are plenty of activities to enjoy. From Exploring the high country by 4x4 on foot, or skis to traversing a wall of water, either frozen or flowing, the best part is being able to relax in the warm soothing waters of a natural mineral hot spring tub at the end of the day.

Experienced guide companies are standing by to take you out on the adventure of your choosing. Whether new to any given sport, or just the area, these individuals can take you and your family where you want to go in a safe, professional manner filled with breath taking fun and excitement.

Weekend adventurers and mid week getaways add a little spice to the ordinary, and although Ouray seems so far away, it is really just in your back yard, accessible year round, with access to some of the most spectacular scenery and adrenaline pumping sports around!

 

Contact Us to Arrange Your Outdoor Adventure in Ouray!

Four Seasons in Southwest Colorado

  
  
  

Spring, Summer, Fall or Winter, the majesty of the San Juan Mountains is Second to None!


alpine tundra overlooking million dollar highway red mtn (1)When the last of the snow has melted from the highest peaks, the rivers run high, and the reds blues and yellows of a world of flowers create a rainbow accross the land.

Everywhere you look, life is bursting in an explosion of color and sunshine. Wildlife bring their newest out for a first look at the world, and the sun shines bright through afternoon rain showers.

Adventurers journey through a surreal world of unparalelled beauty. 

jeepSummer arrives, and the roads are dry and inviting. Although not quite so stark, the flowers still remain and over 500 miles of four wheel drive roads beckon the adventurer.

Hikers, rock climbers and canyoneers flood the area, cameras click as everyone tries to capture the awe inspiring mountains and forests teeming with life.

Around every corner, the world is warm and bright, with cool evenings filled with more stars than you've ever seen before.

fall red mtn pass.7msThe world gradually begins to change with the leaves. the evenings become more brisk, and the landscape seems to shift. Fall has begun, and the high country sings with new colors as the aspens, oakbrush and cottonwoods compete for the most spectacular display.

The 4WD trails are still open, and the Million Dollar Highway is lined with cameras as once again, the world attemts to capture a moment in time.

Locals are beginning the job of quieter times, as jackets replace sweaters in the evening, and we begin to wonder where we put our skis and ice climbing gear. The leaves fall more quickly until suddenly, as if gasping in relief, the last leaf falls.

deer at box canyonWinter teases and taunts with the promise of snow. The sun closes its eyes a little earlier every night, and the Ice Park begins the process of creating ice.

All along the Uncompahgre Gorge, they curious look on and marvel at the athleticism as climbers take to the ice in a ballet of axe hitting ice.

box canyon lodge winter in ourayDeeper in the Gorge, instructors take a group of beginners through the process of learning the dance in the "Schoolroom" and the Kids Climbing Park.

The day ends inevitably no matter the season. As the stars dot the sky, and the sun fades away, there is still one thing to do. Soothing the worn tired muscles of a well spent adventure, the mineral hot springs provide a moment of absolute peace. 

couple in tubsUnder a blanket of stars, as the steam rises all around: Summer, so brilliant and bright, Winter, so brisk and stark. Early morning, coffee steaming, blending with the warmth of the tub, as deer graze nearby, seemingly unaware of your proximity.

boxcanyonyearroundThe Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs is open 365 days a year, and welcomes travellers to the adventure of this small town with a giant heart every time of year. Whether you plan to push your body to new levels by tackling a fourteener, or by finding a one of a kind gift, created by one of the many talented artists in the area, we are here to help you. Take the first step for the adventure of a lifetime!

 

Ouray, southwest colorado

Fall Colors in the San Juan Mountains - Update 9/25/14

  
  
  

Four Wheel Drive Trails and Scenic Byways beckon as Fall Colors Begin in Southwest Colorado!

fall red mtn pass.2msThe new season is beginning. Everywhere you look, the aspens are beginning to turn from a vibrant green to the yellows and oranges of Fall. With just a tiny bit of snow in the high country a couple of weeks ago, it seems Mother Nature has decided to grant us a long and beautiful season of colors and adventures.

Imogene Pass, Ophir and Yankee Boy Basin are teeming with activity as explorers traverse the trails and photographers pause at every switchback for that unforgettable shot.

fall red mtn passmsBlack Bear Pass, one of the most difficult, is closed for the season, but with so very many other options, hardly to be missed. As the color updates begin to flood in, it looks like this is the time to check out Red Mountain Pass. 

last dollar road ross ranch true gritSeptember is an amazing time to journey the passes. Wildflowers are still in bloom, complimented by the beginning transformation of the foliage as nature prepares for a long winters nap. It is almost as if the countryside is rebelling against the inevitable approach of Winter.

Like the grand finale of a fireworks display, the San Juans will enter into the time of ice climbing and skiing with a final explosion of color and life.

As the evenings become more chilly, and the mornings more brisk, the weather forcast still promises days of warm sunshine and spectacular hiking and jeeping conditions. The streets are a little more quiet in town, perfect for a liesurely evening of shopping and dining, followed by a long soak in the hsoothing waters of our all natural mineral hot spring tubs.

Of course, the best part about this time of year is how very quickly everything can change. Every day is an adventure just by being. Tomorrow could be entirely different. The weather could change and completely alter the direction the season is going. Suddenly, fall will be in full bloom, with the colors peaking in every corner of the Uncompahgres. Perhaps one of the most incredible things about the Fall season in Colorado is winning the gamble, and getting here at the right time.

tub.soakingAs always, at the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs, our goal is to help our guest decide when they might catch the best of the Fall colors. Every year, we scour the websites and check with our guests and take scenic drives ourselves in order to provide the most up to date information on the conditions of the four wheel drive trails, hiking trails, wildflowers and fall foliage.

The San Juan National Forest has published their first update on the colors. It looks as if Red Mountain Pass is the best bet right now to catch the beginnings of the leaves:

fall red mtn pass.9ms

Date: 9/23/14

Estimated Percentage of Current Fall Foliage:
Durango/Purgatory – 10% aspens, 50% oakbrush on Missionary
Molas Pass - 40%
Silverton/Red Mountain Pass – 75% aspens
Pagosa –10% aspens high, 30% cottonwoods along river 
Dolores/Rico – 30% 
Mancos – 20%

Areas with Greatest Amount of Color / Recommended Viewing Areas:

 Silverton area early this week before it's done.

Estimated Peak Viewing Period:

High country this week should be getting good.

The slightly lower areas should be the week after.

Viewing Suggestions / Tips:

4WD in Silverton and the alpine loop. Lake City to Creede. Ouray.

Trees That Are Currently Turning Color:

Aspens

For More Information on Fall Colors Please Contact:

San Juan Public Lands Center, Durango (970) 247-4874

fall red mtn pass.8ms

animassignThe Alpine loop is always a popular jeep adventure. You can do the entire loop, or just portions around Silverton to catch the best colors this weekend. Corkscrew, Animas Forks, Engineer, Cinnamon, Engineer, all promise to be spectacular this week, and even better next week.

Last Dollar Road, one of my favorites for viewing the Fall colors, will be a little later in the season, due to its lower altitude. The Million Dollar Highway should provide some awesome views as the week progresses, and is accessible all season.


jeep tourHiking in the fall is a marvelous way to catch early changes not visible from the roads and jeep trails. A short drive up Highway 550 to the Ghost Town of Ironton is a great way to see quite a bit. Take a picnic with you, and enjoy an afternoon surrounded by nature and all of her beauty as you explore the remains of this once prosperous mining town.

exterior (1)An excellent way to experience the San Juans with both hands and eyes free is to take advantage of a jeep tour. Each of our tour companies in and around Ouray are staffed by experienced, proffessional drivers with up to the minute knowledge of road conditions and ideal wildlife and color viewing. A tour in the high country in the fall promises you will never miss anything!

Let the staff at the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs help to create the perfect getaway for you. From the best spots for fall colors, to up to date 4-wheel drive road conditions, to the best spot for a quiet dinner, we are here to make your stay memorable.

 

Contact UsFor The PerfectFall Escape!

 

 

 

 


Second Annual Sneffels Fiber Festival in Ouray County

  
  
  

Food, Fun and Fiber in Ridgway Colorado September 2014.

 

fiberfestflyerWeehawken Creative Arts works tirelessly to provide high-quality arts education and personal growth programs and events to adults and children year-round.

A Colorado Non-Profit Organization (501-c-3), Weehawken serves Ouray, Ridgway, Colona, Silverton and Montrose.

snefels fiberfest.2From dance to pottery; cooking and sewing, plays and music; Weehawken embraces every form of art and presents it in programs and classes attended by a variety of individuals. Each event they offer is a potpourri of talent and a treat for every taste.

The Second Annual Sneffels Fiber Festival promises to be an eclectic mixture of art, music, food and fun. Focusing on all aspects of fiber and fiber arts, the festival will be a three day event held at the Ouray County 4H Events Center, featuring live animals, such as yaks, alpacas and maybe even a camel!

snefels fiberfestFrom beautiful tapestries, embroidered in rainbows of color, to wearable arts such as scarves and sweaters, the variety of fiber to be seen and purchased will entertain for hours.

This event is free, and will run as follows:

Friday, September 26, 5-7 pm Sneak Preview

Saturday, September 27, 9am-5 pm

Sunday, September 28, 11am-3pm

Free Admission on Saturday & Sunday (donations gladly accepted!)

bcltubslgContact the staff at the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs for more information, or to plan your stay. Soak in the soothing mineral hot springs, hike the magnificent San Juan Mountains, and go find that special one of a kind something at the Second Annula Sneffels Fiber Festival!

See you soon!

 

Ouray, southwest colorado

 

 

 

Ouray Hotel Offers Great Incentive to Off Season Visitors!

  
  
  

The Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs is the Perfect Winter Escape!


ouraywinterAt the Box Canyon Lodge, we love our guests. Whether you have been visiting us for years, or this is your first time to the property, every guest becomes a part of what makes us great.

Nineteen years ago, John and Barbara Uhles offered a special incentive to folks who join the "Once A Month Club". In exchange for coming to see us at least once a month from October through May, members receive incredible discounts and offers on rooms. The club took off, and the lodge has been blessed with an extended family who have visited monthly for years and years.

box canyon lodge hot (2)When Rich and Karen Avery purchased the hotel in 2006, the "Once a Month Club" was an exciting and interesting concept. What better way to learn what does and does not work than from the folks who visit so frequently? Not to mention the opportunity to meet so many of the people who have been an integral part of this amazing property! Friendships formed and continue to thrive and grow. Members come and go, some stay with the club for just one year, while many more become life long members.

guestsatthetubsThe months of October through May, the city of Ouray becomes a much more quiet community. As the snow begins to fall and temperatures drop, access to the high country becomes more limited. Several businesses close for the winter, the owners taking advantage of the chance to explore the outside world, or just relax and prepare for the following summer. Nothing compares to an evening in Ouray when the streets are so quiet it is as if you are the only person in town. Snow falls gently, and the four mineral hot spring tubs in our courtyard are an intimate escape from it all.

tubsinwinterThe majority of our Once a Month Club members live fairly close to us, but we also have a number of folks from as far away as Denver, Santa Fe and Moab. A number of members have chosen to join the club with family members, friends, or through their businesses. It is a wonderful way to enjoy the benefits of the club without having to worry about whether you can commit to visiting all eight months yourself. From hospitals to families to business associations, we have a wide variety of visitors who enjoy the benefits of the Once a Month Club.

The serene beauty of the Uncompahgres is a magnificent backdrop to whatever winter activities interest you. Whether an avid skiier, snow shoer, ice climber or hot tubber, Ouray serves as a perfect base camp. Telluride is just a short drive for downhill skiing. The Box Canyon Lodge is just at the base of the Ice Park Trail, and any hiking trail becomes the perfect winter adventure for snow shoeing. Ironton Park is only a few miles up the pass for a day cross country skiing on meticulously groomed and maintained trails. 

fall tubsAfter a day of fall or winter adventuring, how nice to relax in the warm, soothing mineral hot springs! 

Once a month members can take advantage of these little getaways much more often, not having to be concerned with a long drive home. Of course, there are times when the discounted rate does not apply, however, with so many other days available, it is simple to plan around.

Every year, as the summer season begins to wind down, everyone at the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs begins to look forward to October with a feeling of anticipation and excitement. The Club members have started to call, and make dates for the first visit of the season, and we can't wait to start catching up on the past months.

tubs.3This year, we hope to add to the family, and invite everyone to come and experience a winter in Ouray!

Check out our contract. Fill it out and send it back to us, or just bring it along on your first visit! This year, be sure to expect some great deals for the summer season as well! Every once in a while, we just miss our clubbers, and want to see them during the warm months as well. So, every once in a while, club members may receive an email from us inviting them all to come visit for a last minute getaway!

Join the Club, and become a part of our little extended family here at the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs!

See You Soon.

 

  Ouray, southwest colorado

History of Ouray - Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs

  
  
  

Ouray Hotel has long provided a soothing relaxing atmosphere!

boxcanyonlodgehistoryLong before the area was discovered by two miners in search of gold, the tiny canyon now known as Ouray served as a sacred spot for the Ute Indians. Some people speculate that perhaps the name "Uncompahgre", or dirty water, was given to the area to protect the secret of the hot springs.

Once gold had been discovered though, the soothing waters of the natural springs were an added perk to living in the area, offering a soothing respite from days deep in the earth searching for treasure.

In 1877, a newspaper article mentioned the vast number of bath houses in Ouray and their popularity. While several places took advantage of the warm waters for recreational purposes, it was not until the early 1900's when a facility was opened which brought to light the healing properties of the hot springs.

Rich in a variety of minerals, particularly helpful in soothing rheumatism and skin problems, the first sanitarium was developed.

cogar sanitariumRichard and Bessie Cogar purchased the land which now houses the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs, as well as its neighboring hotel in 1913, with the intention of building the first sanitarium in Ouray. 

In the early 1900's, the term "Radio Active" had an entirely different connotation than the post World War Two use of the word, as did the term "Sanitarium".

sweetskinThe Cogar's Sanitarium and "Radio-Active Baths" were incredibly successful, and men and women came fraom all over to take advantage of the treatments provided at the facility.

In 1927, after the death of her husband, Bessie had remarried and left Ouray, selling the sanitarium to Mr. C.W. Kent, of Peoria, Illinois. Mr. Kent maintained and invested in the sanitarium, which he re-named "The Sweet Skin Sanitarium", until 1946. During his residence and ownership of the hot springs, he added five cabins to the property to accommodate the growing tourism and declining mining industry.

boxcanyonmotelIn 1945, Mr. Kent sold the land to the Idarado Mining Company, who re-named it the "Crystal Court Bathhouses", and rented cabins to local miners.

Sometime around 1953, the original 35 acres were parceled out, and on July 9, 1959, The Ouray County Herald announced the opening of the Box Canyon Motel. Long term residents, Tommy and Della May (or Sally) Fellin had built a two story hotel with ten complete units. This building is the first of three expansions over the year, and is on the Southwest side of the property. When John Ray and Mary Joyce Scoggins purchased the property in 1964, there were fourteen completed units available for rent.

During the five years they owned the hotel, the Scoggins added another eight rooms to the property, and moved the front desk to the front of the hotel, facing the street.

Joseph and Viola Muse purchased the Box Canyon Motel in 1969, selling it again in 1972 to Kurt and Margaret Kircher. When the Kirchers sold the property to Thomas and Nancy Borman in 1975, there were twenty two rooms. During their time at the Box Canyon, the Bormans added eight more units, and built the four mineral hot spring tubs which still provide hours of relaxation and pleasure to our guests.

boxcanyonlodge1993When John and Barbara Uhles purchased the hotel in 1986, they immediately set about making the property their own, renaming the Property "Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs", and completely refurbished the original 14 rooms. They purchased the parcel of land between the Box Canyon and its neighboring hotel, the Chief Ouray Gun Club, and added eight rooms, including the two large suites, each with a fireplace, and the Honeymoon Suite. 

In May, 2007, Rich and Karen Avery purchased the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs. With 39 beautifully maintained rooms, including five suites and a fully furnished two bedroom apartment, it was easy to fall in love with. The four mineral hot spring tubs still stand on the hillside. The tubs themselves have been replaced once or twice, still as cedar tubs though in order to best compliment the majesty of the views.

box canyon lodge hot (1)Every year, the Averys follow the tradition of upgrading and maintaining the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs. The Averys expanded increased use of the hot springs by converting the entire property to geothermal, using the natuaral heat to warm the guest rooms and tap water. Every time a guest returns, whether it is weeks, days or even years later, the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs provides the perfect escape. The love and passion put into the property from the very beginning shines through in every portion of the grounds and rooms.

Come see us soon!

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Three Favorite Four Wheel Drive Trails Around Ouray

  
  
  

Ouray Colorado is the Jeeping Capitol Of The World!

waterfalls near ouray colo in julyBoasting access to over 500 miles of 4-wheel drive trails, Ouray County and the surrounding area has truly earned the title of Jeeping Capitol of the world. 

Off roading enthusiasts from all walks of life and all over the country come to this tiny little area in Southwest Colorado specifically for the adventure of the high country trails.

Whether you are an experienced off roader, or this is your first time to explore these high country trails, there is a jeep road just for you! Time and again visitors travel from Lake City to Ouray over Engineer Pass, or to Telluride and back via Ophir, Imogene or Black Bear Pass. High country lakes, seasonal waterfalls, wildlife of every shape and size. Wildflowers in the spring and summer, and colorful aspens in the fall. Every trip along one of these trails is a new experience, dotted with new and exciting stories with opportunities for spectacular photographs around literally every bend.

Every jeep tour and rental company is eager to help guests to find the perfect route most suited to their comfort levels and experience. The idea is for everyone to enjoy this amazing place we are fortunate enough to call home. Of course, one of the most important unspoken rules of off roading is to always stop and lend a helping hand to your fellow adventurers, and Colorado is nothing if not a friendly, helpful state!

With so many trails to choose from, there is no one in particular that is more spectacular than the other, however there are three ( ranging in levels of difficulty) which seem to draw the most interest:

Last Dollar Road (level 1 experience - easy)

october2This is indeed one of the most incredible drives in the fall. Travelling from just outside of Ridgway (10 miles from Ouray) to the outskirts of Telluride, the road travels through long tunnels of aspen trees, creating a surreal drive that virtually feels like a painting. The sunlight becomes a little less intense, and leaves of every color drift around your vehicle. Places to pull off abound, and the area is populated with photographers catching frame after frame.

To access, travel past Ridgway toward Telluride on Highway 62 to the top of Dallas Divide. Last Dollar Road is on the left, and marked. Six miles down the road, you will come to a fork giving the option of a shorter route which exits at the town of Sawpit on the right, or left to travel along Hastings Mesa to Highway 145 just past the Telluride airport. 

If you have a decent amount of clearance on your vehicle, take the left turn. This is a little more steep and curvy, but the views of the Sneffels Range are truly awesome!

 

Yankee Boy Basin (level 2 experience - moderate)

yankee boy basin columbinesYankee Boy Basin is known best for the vivid wildflowers in the late spring and early summer which blanket the fields with a rainbow of Mother Natures most incredible creations. With a twin waterfall flowing through the colorful vista, this is truly a magical place!

Adventurers drive along this well travelled road along the Uncompahgre Gorge, past abandoned as well as operating mines. Gazing at the cliffs across the way, it is hard to believe that once over a thousan people lived and worked here - summer, winter, spring and fall. If you look closely, you can still maybe find the ruins of an old bunk house on the side of the mountain, accessed by an ingenious lift system to get the miners from the top of the hill to the mine entrances below.

To access this trail, head south out of Ouray toward Silverton. At the first switchback, turn right onto Camp Bird Road. About ten miles up the road, take the right fork to Yankee Boy Basin. The last two miles of this track are quite steep and narrow, so a number of vehicles will park where the road is still a little more traversible and walk the rest of the way. Because it is a narrow two way road, in this instance, whoever has the most space is required to back up and make way for the other driver.

Corkscrew Gulch ( level 3 - moderate to difficult)

corkscrewQuite possiblly my personal favorite, Corkscrew Gulch is one of the most fun for people who want a little daring, but not so much they can't handle it. Starting about 10 miles from Ouray, take a left at the turn off for Brown Mountain, Corkscrew and Ironton Park. Stay to the right as you head up the hill, and the fun begins almost immediately!

Travelling up switchbacks not so tight to be scary, the view through the forested road above the Million Dollar Highway is amazing. It is also the best way to guage exactly how much you are climbing, as every glimpse of the highway becomes even more distant until reaching timberline, at which point it is difficult to decide where to look.

At the summit, it is as if you are standing at the top of the world. High above timberline, at 12,217 feet, the views are phenominal.

jeep exiting engineer passThe eastern descent offers access to either south to Silverton, or north over Hurricane Pass and California Gulch, connecting to the road to the ghost town Animas Forks. Be sure if you take this route to watch for the trailhead to Poughkeepsie Gulch, which is a level 5 trail, and prohibited by most rental companies.

Obviously, there are more than three trails to explore on your adventure in the high country. From Last Dollar to Black Bear, each offers a variety of visual candy and an entire world of adventure. Exploring the trails, I often wind up taking random side trails, and find the most amazing valleys and mountain lakes. Just be sure to remember that if the road looks doubtful, follow your instinct. If unsure, get out and walk a little way to see what is up ahead. Be aware of road condidtions. The weather can change drastically in a very short period of time. Don't be caught off guard. Never go cross country. Not only does this do irreperable damage to the  tundra, it is illegal. Be aware of your own level of comfort and experience, and above all, bring your camera and be prepared to stop. A lot.

If you prefer, a jeep tour is an awesome way to experience the high country. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy the scenery as a seasoned driver shows you all of the sights you may have missed otherwise. Let the staff at the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs help you to plan the perfect adventure for you!

 

Contact Us!Let the Box Canyon Help YouExperience the Jeep Capital of the World Today!

Ouray Colorado is Calling all Birders

  
  
  

Switzerland of America, also known as Ouray Colorado wants everyone to know about the arrival of the Black Swifts.

blackswiftThese are very elusive birds and it wasn't until they strapped on micro backpacks with geo locators did they learn that the Black Swifts in Ouray winter in Brazil, a 4300 mile journey to the lowland rainforest on the Amazon River.  Researchers finally tracked the birds and the story is outlined in the Denver Post by writer Nancy Lofholm.  These high flying creatures can't even purch on a branch or sit on a wire.  They are only able to make their homes on the small crags of vertical canyon walls near very large waterfalls.

Sightings of the birds are very common, all summer long, at the Box Cañon Falls, a 5 minute walk from our hotel in Ouray, although most people don't know how rare a sighting can be.

The coloring of the plumage camoflages the birds and their nests and many visitors just walk right on by without even noticing the "coolest bird" on the way to view the falls themselves.  Ouray has a preeminant birder who monitors the colony, assists visitors, educates people on the wonderful creatures and she is at the park most everyday, all summer long.

broad-tailed hummingbird

The falls themselves are stunning, with a thunderous roar of the water in springtime and only mildly quieter in mid and late summer.


Of course, Ouray has other avian visitors, including the broad tailed hummingbird, western tanagers, Stellar's Jay,  and many a finch or warbler.  In fact the 
Ouray County checklist which includes a whopping 249 birds. 

Fruit trees lining the Main Street near Fellin Park (by the Ouray Hot Springs Pool) attract many birds as well.  

 

 

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