Summer Adventures in Southwest Colorado are Just Beginning!
May is entering into the final days, heralding a summer filled with the excitement of back country explorations.
We had a decent winter this year - enough snow to keep us safe from draught, but not so much that it will be mid-July before it is safe to venture out at all.
Granted, there aren't a ton of four wheel drive roads open yet, But a quick drive to the twin falls in Yankee Boy Basin, or a leisurely drive along Owl Creek sure do sound like fun!
Four Wheel Drive Road Status as of May 30, 2014:
Animas Forks - Open
Alta Lakes - Open
Black Bear Pass - Closed
Blue Lakes Trailhead - Open
Brown Mountain - Closed
Cinnamon Pass - Clear to the top from the Silverton side
Clear Lake - Open
Corkscrew - Clear to the top from the Silverton side
County Road 2 to Animas Forks - Open
County Road 9 - Open
Cow Creek - Open
Engineer Pass - Clear to the top on the Silverton side
Fall Creek Road (to Woods Lake) - Closed
Governors Basin - Closed
Hastings Mesa - Open
Horsefly - Closed
Hurricane/California - Closed
Imogene - Closed
Iron Springs (Hwy 145 through to Hwy 62)- Closed
Last Dollar Road - Open - High clearance vehicles only; expect mud snow and ice
Little Cone Road (CR G49) - Closed
Maggie/Minnie - Closed
Miniehaha (CR 51) - Closed
Old Lime Creek - Closed
Ophir - Clear to the top of the pass on the Silverton side. Should be open on Ophir side by mid-June
Owl Creek Pass - Maintained to Vista Point - Currently Open 5.4 Miles from Vista Point
Pittsburgh Mine Road - Closed
Placer - Closed
Poughkeepsie - Closed
Red Mountain Town - Open
Shrine Road (CR 6) - Closed
Skyline - Closed
South Mineral Campground road - County road 7 - Open
Yankee Boy - Open
Stony Pass - Closed
Please remember as always: road conditions in the high country can change in minutes. Please use extreme caution during the early spring months. If in doubt, turn around and take a different trail. Even the low altitude trails can be very hazardous, and early Spring there is not as much traffic. This is definitely awesome in many ways, but also adds to the fact that breakdowns will result in a much longer walk. It is also very important to let someone know where you plan on going, as with hiking. Just let your front desk agent know you plan on exploring the back roads, and an approximate time to expect to see you back.
Let the staff at the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs help you to have a safe and exciting adventure in the San Juan Mountains! We look forward to keeping you up to date on road conditions and the best possible trip ideas.
See you Soon!
From Mining to Ranching to Soaking in Natural Hot Springs; The Beauty of Ouray County is Everlasting!
The Ute Indians arrived in what is today known as Ouray County about 1300 AD to find a land formed some 35 million years ago by firs and ice. Immense volcanic eruptions resulted in deep, lava formed craters. The most recent Ice Age scoured the mountain valleys, carving great amphiteatres, cliffs and peaks. the Utes valued the Uncompahgres based on abundant wildlife, plentiful streams, and of course the natural hot springs. For ages, the Ute tribe lived in harmony with the land.
It is widely believed that the first white men to visit the valley were "Gus" Begole and John Eckles in 1875 in search of gold and silver. Soon the men found the area was rich in possibilities, and soon claims were being made all through the area.
The following spring, the rush was on. The town was surveyed, streets laid out, and most of the timber in the Ouray area was cut down for cabins. In the fall of 1876, the town was incorporated and given the name of Ouray in honor of the great Ute chief famed for his efforts to maintain peace between the two cultures.
Mines were also taking root higher in the mountains in Imogene and Yankee Boy. Pack trains carried supplies and ore between local mines and Ouray, now over 400 strong, boasting a school, four stores, two hotel, a saw mill, an ore sampling works, post office and an assortment of saloons and gambling houses.
In 1883, entrepreneur and engineering genius Otto Mears carved a toll road between Ouray and the towns of Silverton and Ironton to the south. This road is now known as US Highway 550, or more lovingly dubbed the Million Dollar Highway.
In 1887, the area experienced another boom when the Denver Rio Grande Railroad established a depot in town, which allowed the profitable mining of low grade ores. With rich discoveries made northeast of town in the Gold Hill area, and the mining industry booming, the population of Ouray exploded to over 2000 residents by the year 1890. The following year, the town of Ridgway was developed as a travel hub for the railway.
The town suffered a scare in 1893, when the value of silver plummeted, but three years later was again riding high when Tom Walsh struck it rich at the Camp Bird Mine, southwest of town. Between 1896 and 1910, the mine produced over $26 million.
At the turn of the century, Ouray entered a boom or bust cycle as mining became less productive and tourism became more of a focal point. The Ouray Hot Springs Pool was built, and the city purchased Box Canyon Park.
Ridgway prospered as a railroad transportation center until the Rio Grande Rail Southern Rail halted service in 1951. Today, Ridgway is a successful ranching community, gifted with moderate climate and fertile land. The town continues to serve as an important junction, leading to some of the finest skiing in Colorado, and energy rich mineral deposits in the west.
The city of Ouray has been designated as a National Historic District. Beautifully preserved and restored Victorian architecture serves to recall the century old mining traditions and ingenuity of the early settlers. Even the city pool is on the National Historical Register.
The Ouray County Historical Society Museum is housed in what was once the hospital, and offers a sampling of the rich and varied past of the area.
There are over 10,000 abandoned mine shafts, tunnels or cuts within a ten mile radius of Ouray, for hikers to seek and discover, as well as access to over 500 miles of four wheel drive trails, most leading to ghost towns and abandoned mines high in the mountains. It is always fascinating to experience in a four wheel drive vehicle trails that were once traveled by hearty men and women on horseback or on foot, often in the winter through feet of snow. Yikes!
The Bachelor Syracuse Mine, just a few miles north of the city now offers tours, taking people over 2,000 feet into the ground to experience a tiny taste of mining at the turn of the century.
Rich in history and overflowing with natural beauty, Ouray County offers a variety of adventures. Whether fascinated by the old town feel, or eager to soak in the natural mineral hot springs, there is something for everyone here.
See you soon!
A Delicious Day Trip From Ouray, Enjoy a Wine Tasting and Meal!
A bit of a drive from Ouray, but well worth it, many of the wineries in Southwest Colorado are only open to the public by appointment, but they are always happy to have people come visit. We headed north about an hour drive from Ouray on Highway 550 past Olathe, and up onto California Mesa, driving through farm land, orchards and vineyards.
Entering the tasting area we are greeted by Mitch Garrett, the head of marketing for the winery.
Garrett Estate is a family run business with 3 generations participating. We start to try their selection of wines paired with cheese from Rocking W Cheese also in Olathe. Rocking W has some really amazing cheeses. We tried their Jalapeno Jack, which is not spicy at all, just fresh and flavorful. My other favorites are Tomato Basil, Portobello Leek, Garlic Chive and Farmers Veggie. They also make amazing Egg Nog in the winter.
Then we went on a tour of the facility. We started in the vineyards; they currently have 35 acres, but are planting almost 20 more. They have the capacity to plant 80 acres of vines. From the vineyards we go to the crushing area and then to the fermenting room.
We end in the bottling and casing room, the bottling machine can bottle, cork and label 4 cases at a time. They make all dry wines and all the whites are fermented in stainless steel.
As we explored the winery and socialized with the other guests, the aromas of dinner began wafting through the building. We were ushered back to the tasting room where lovely tables, set by Two Sister Restaurant and Catering, awaited us. Our first course was a delicious salad with crusted cheese on top paired with a dry Reisling. Second course, a roasted game hen with veggies and wild rice decorated with sliced apples, and paired with a Gewurztraminer. Dessert was a raspberry cheesecake with fresh raspberries, whipped cream and chocolate drizzle, paired with their Pheasant Run Red, which is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Savenion and Syrah.
We ended the evening with more wine, great conversation, and the opportunity to purchase some great wine to take home.
Right now Garrett Estate and Rocking W Cheese are working on doing a
combined tasting room in the town of Olathe so they will be more accessible, so stay tuned for that. In Ouray you can buy Garrett Estate wine at Ouray Liquors.
When you book a room at the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs
, we can arrange your very own special evening at this or one of the other fabulous wineries in Southwest Colorado.
Ever the wine enthusiast and farm to table promoter, Faith Parry is the brains and braun of the Ouray Wine, Chocolate and Cheese festival. She tirelessly explores hidden gems, and shares with us experiences and adventures that otherwise we wouldn't know were so fabulous! Lasy month, FaitRich and some other local businesses took part in a wine dinner in Olathe. Southwest Colorado is a treasure trove of talented people all eager to share their passion for a variety of creativity from wine and cheese, to the Ridgway MoonWalk.
Free Concerts, Art Exhibits and Water Festivals are just the beginning in Ouray and Ridgway this June!
As we enter into the summer months in the high country, wildflowers and waterfalls appear as if from thin air. The world is alive with color and life, inviting travelers to explore the highest peaks.
Four wheel drive vehicles traverse mountain trails that once led to mines and homesteads deep in the mountain passes. Wildlife gazes from the cover and occasionally lets onlookers have a glimpse.
The cities of Ouray and Ridgway stretch away the last of winters grasp and welcome the season with an exciting mix of festivals and fun.
Events in Ridgway and Ouray this month:
Thursday, April 17 through Saturday, November 15, 2014 - "How the Local Mountains Got their Names" exhibit at the Ouray Museum from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm
Have you ever wondered how the peaks around Ouray got their Names? Our special exhibit answers these questions and more. See photos of the local peaks with detailed descriptions of where the names came from.
Saturday, May 17 through Tuesday, September 30, 2014 - Autumn in Ouray County- Special Photo Exhibit at the Ouray Museum from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm
An exhibit of 16 Ouray County Photographers who attended the John Fielder Photo Workshop inn September 2013. Each photographer will have one 10 x 15 photo exhibited.
Monday, June 2 through Friday, June 6, 2014 - Ridgway Railroad Museum Work Week at the Ridgway Railroad Museum from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
Come and spend a day or more working on the rolling stock at he Ridgway Railroad Museum or on red Mountain reconstructing the Guston Depot. All skills are welcome - carpentry,computer filing, food prep, painting, etc.
Wednesday, June 4, 2014 - Sideways, Movie Presentation and Wine Tasting at the Wright Opera House from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm
Join the Wright along with our awesome sponsors Secret Garden Bed & Breakfast and The Blue Pear for a wine-tasting featuring anything but merlot, light food pairings, a bottle of something expensive for auction, and of course the movie Sideways.
Thursday, June 5, 2014 Mountain Air Music Series Presents: SHELwith TAARKA opening at Fellin Park from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
And so it begins. The Mountain Air Summer Concert Series is not playing around this year. This first concert of the season will sweep you away into a fantastical world of strings and harmony. Taarka opens with an original acoustic sound, the voices of the lead singers complimenting each other and their instruments in such a way as to have the crowd moving in short order. SHEL is comprised of four sisters from Fort Collins who are taking the music world by storm with their amazing harmonies and awesome instrumental abilities. Local breweries will be offering a taste of a variety of craft beers, or you can pedal your way to the perfect margarita. Food and non alcoholic beverages abound as you and your family enjoy an evening of camaraderie at the Ouray City Park!
Friday June 6, 2014 - The Odd Couple - Female Version by Niel Simon at the Wright Opera House from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Join your fellow theater enthusiasts for a show sure to have you belly chuckling. This classic play is filled with timeless humor. Presented by WISE: Women In Support of Education, the proceeds of this fund raiser will be used toward their scholarship fund.
Saturday, June 7, 2014 - Ouray Trails Group 2014 National Trails Day at Ohio Park from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm
This year will be different from previous OTG events. Rather than work an existing trail or build a new one we plan to
* Perform trash cleanup in the Ohio Park area. This area is designated as a USFS dispersed camping area (i.e. open for anyone to camp on) and as such there's a fair amount of litter left behind by campers.
* Scout the existing road from Ohio Park to the historic Zanett Tunnel (runs through the mountain to Bear Creek) to investigate the possibility of creating a new trail for use by the public.
* Scout the existing, but overgrown, trail from Portland Creek to the remains of the Portland Mine area again with the view of reopening this trail.
* Have a picnic (BYO) in Ohio Park.
All members of the public welcome.
Contact: Stuart Middleton-White
Saturday, June 7, 2014 - The Odd Couple - Female Version by Niel Simon at the Wright Opera House from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Join your fellow theater enthusiasts for a show sure to have you belly chuckling. This classic play is filled with timeless humor. Presented by WISE: Women In Support of Education, the proceeds of this fundraiser will be used toward their scholarship fund.
Thursday, June 12, 2014 - Mountain Air Music Series Presents: The Brothers Comatose with Finnders and Youngberg opening at Fellin Park from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Get ready for some toe tapping swinging fun with these two groups who compliment one another with musical energy. This is definitely going to be a "Music Party" as we let the music and scenery sweep us away! Local breweries will be offering a taste of a variety of craft beers, or you can pedal your way to the perfect margarita. Food and non alcoholic beverages abound as you and your family enjoy an evening of camaraderie at the Ouray City Park!
Friday, June 13, 2014 - Ridgway MoonWalk Art Outing in Ridgway, Colorado from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Join the Ridgway Creative District, Weehawken Creative Arts, and Ridgway's downtown galleries with special guests for a festive and fun outing celebrating great local talent and creativity! This MoonWalk's theme is Cowboys and Cowgirls. Brochures available, including a map of participating locations, at Resource Art, 540 Sherman St. Demonstrations and refreshments provided
Saturday, June 14, 2014 - Compassion Weekend all day in Ouray
Every year, volunteers gather to lend a helping hand around Ouray County. From painting to yard work, join the community in giving a helping hand to someone who needs help with household projects.
Contact: Sabrina Butler
Saturday, June 14, 2014 - Radney Foster at the Wright Opera House from 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm
Texas singer-songwriters, Foster has been a friend and mentor to many younger artists on the Texas scene. He’s written and produced songs for Randy Rogers, Jack Ingram, Kacey Musgraves, Wade Bowen, Josh Abbott, Pat Green, Cory Morrow and many others. His songs are regularly mined by superstar acts like Keith Urban (“Raining on Sunday,” “I’m In,”), Sara Evans (“Real Fine Place,” “Revival”) and the Dixie Chicks (“Godspeed”).
Sunday, June 15, 2014 - Ridgway Heritage Days - Ute Mountain Utes & Axteca Dancers at Hartwell Park in Ridgway from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm
This all day event celebrates Southwest Colorado and its rich history.
8am Ridgway Fire Dept Pancake Breakfast
Farmers Market, Blacksmith, Horseshoeing
Strawberry Shortcake, Music & Fun
Ute Mountain Indians 2 pm
Don't miss the fun!
Thursday, June 19, 2014 - Mountain Air Music Series Presents: Fox Street with the Gold Magnolias opening at Fellin Park from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
A roller coaster of roadhouse blues interwoven with super-sized helpings of funk with elements of rock, soul and jazz is the only way to describe Fox Street, and the perfect openers for this high energy band is the funky fun groove of the Gold Magnolias! Local breweries will be offering a taste of a variety of craft beers, or you can pedal your way to the perfect margarita. Food and non alcoholic beverages abound as you and your family enjoy an evening of camaraderie at the Ouray City Park!
Friday, June 20 through Saturday, June 21, 2014 - Basic Plein Air Painting Workshop with Patricia Bass at Ago Gallery in Ouray
Enjoy a two-day plein air workshop near beautiful Ouray, Colorado and Owl Creek Pass. Bass is visiting from the Bitterroot Valley in Montana and is a part-time resident of Colorado, especially when the aspens are turning! This workshop is designed for the beginner or intermediate student, the class will focus on outdoor, on location painting with study emphasis on color and value comparison, simplification and accelerated painting methods for rendering a quick study. Instruction will be personally adjusted for your comfort level. Plan to have two days of hard work and loads of fun, with a wine and cheese social at Ago Gallery on your final day. Transportation is required to travel to various locations, directions will be provided before the workshop begins.
Level: Beginner and intermediate painters, advance are welcome too.
Class size: 5 minimum to 12 maximum
REGISTRATION DEADLINE: JUNE 10
Materials: Students should come prepared with their own easels and materials, required materials list will be provided. Some materials are available for purchase at the Ago Gallery in Ouray.
To register, call or visit AGO GALLERY on 445 Main Street, Ouray, Colorado, phone: 970-325-0270. Feel free to call Tricia at 303-808-1770 with questions about the workshop.
Sunday, June 22, 2014 - Trio Solisti at the Wright Opera House starting at 7:30 pm
Trio Solisti is "The most exciting piano trio in America," The New Yorker. We are privileged to have them in western Colorado. Their program will include, Tchaikovsky Trio in A minor, Op. 50 and Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition. See our website, www.ocpag.org for ticket information.
Monday, June 23, 2014 - Bicycle Tour of Colorado is in Ouray all day!
This is a large multi-day ride that will be spending the night of June 23rd, 2014 in Ouray. It is a fun event with lots of great energy!
Tuesday, June 24, 2014 - Evenings of History at the Ouray Community Center from 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm
Steve Baker will speak on "The Uncompahgre Valley Ute Project."
Thursday, June 26, 2014 - Mountain Air Music Series Presents: Afroliscious with The Congress opening at Fellin Park from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
A combination of "soulful vocals, infectious hooks, funky bass lines, energetic horns and tight beats, while retaining the soul and feel of classic funk, disco, Latin, Tropical and Afrobeat recordings." Opening band The Congress sets the stage with their high energy high fun tunes. Local breweries will be offering a taste of a variety of craft beers, or you can pedal your way to the perfect margarita. Food and non alcoholic beverages abound as you and your family enjoy an evening of camaraderie at the Ouray City Park!
Saturday, June 28, 2014 - 7th Annual Ridgway River Festival at Rollans Park in Ridgway from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm
The Ridgway River Festival is a one-of-a-kind event in the northern San Juan region. It is a celebration of the Uncompahgre River and our communities with all-age river races, educational activities, live music, local food and beverages, and is annually attended by 600 outdoor enthusiasts from across the region.
Southwest Colorado is alive with activities and excitement all month long. What better way to spend a vacation than in Ouray and Ridgway?!? Let the staff at the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs help with all of the details for your next adventure!
Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs AWARDED TRIPADVISOR GREENLEADERS™ STATUS
Ouray, Colorado - May 8, 2014 today proudly announced it has been accepted as a Silver level GreenLeader into the TripAdvisor® GreenLeaders™ program, which helps travelers plan greener trips by identifying environmentally-friendly accommodations across the U.S.
TripAdvisor GreenLeaders have met a set of environmental standards developed for TripAdvisor by a leading environmental consulting firm, with input from expert partners. The more green practices a hotel has in place, the higher its GreenLeader level, which is shown on the property’s listing on the TripAdvisor site.
“We strive to find ways to consistently reduce our carbon footprint, and to help our guests to do so as well, while at the same time providing exemplary service.”
Travelers can now search for accommodations that have a GreenLeaders status on the TripAdvisor site, and view a detailed list of environmentally-friendly practices that they can expect at each location.
“TripAdvisor GreenLeaders are leading the hospitality industry in making efforts to improve their environmental footprint,” said Jenny Rushmore, director of responsible travel at TripAdvisor. “We greatly applaud these accommodations and are pleased to share their eco-friendly practices with our online audience of more than 260 million travelers who visit the site each month.”
The TripAdvisor GreenLeaders program was developed in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR® program, the U.S. Green Building Council, and the United Nations Environment Programme. For more information, please visit www.tripadvisor.com/GreenLeaders.
TripAdvisor® is the world's largest travel site*, enabling travelers to plan and have the perfect trip. TripAdvisor offers trusted advice from real travelers and a wide variety of travel choices and planning features with seamless links to booking tools. TripAdvisor branded sites make up the largest travel community in the world, with more than 260 million unique monthly visitors**, and more than 125 million reviews and opinions covering more than 3.1 million accommodations, restaurants, and attractions. The sites operate in 34 countries worldwide, including China under daodao.com. TripAdvisor also includes TripAdvisor for Business, a dedicated division that provides the tourism industry access to millions of monthly TripAdvisor visitors.
TripAdvisor, Inc. (NASDAQ: TRIP) manages and operates websites under 20 other travel media brands: www.airfarewatchdog.com, www.bookingbuddy.com, www.cruisecritic.com, www.everytrail.com, www.familyvacationcritic.com, www.flipkey.com, www.gateguru.com, www.holidaylettings.co.uk, www.holidaywatchdog.com, www.independenttraveler.com, www.jetsetter.com, www.niumba.com, www.onetime.com, www.oyster.com, www.seatguru.com, www.smartertravel.com, www.tingo.com, www.travelpod.com, www.virtualtourist.com, , and www.kuxun.cn.
*Source: comScore Media Metrix for TripAdvisor Sites, worldwide, June 2013
**Source: Google Analytics, worldwide data, July 2013
TripAdvisor Media Relations firstname.lastname@example.org www.tripadvisor.com Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs Bcm@boxcanyonouray.com
Longer days and warmer weather beckon in the San Juan Mountains!
Spring is in its full glory. As Mother Nature stretches from a long winter nap, flowers are beginning to bloom, and the world is showing signs of preparation for the Summer season.
A scenic drive along highway 550, even just a few miles, shows the signs of the season to come.
Calves and foals frolic in the fields along the highway, and the truly observant may catch sight of young wildlife as well!
Knowing that the high country has not yet had enough time for a safe adventure, something a little lower sounded like a fine idea. Time to jump in the car and see how far we could go!
After much debate, we decided to make an attempt at Buckhorn Lake, located just on the edge of Ouray County.
Following Highway 550 North towards Montrose, turn right onto Buckhorn Road (just after the Conoco station). The road curves a bit, but in just short time turns into a dirt road, and houses quickly become sparse.
The steep incline is easily traversable for a couple of miles, and the views are spectacular!
A sharp curve takes you to, well, close to the end of this adventure in the first week of May.
Sunlight hasn't had time to melt all of the snow, and the road becomes a little more demanding.
Shifting into four-low, the first snow packed switchback was easy enough to overcome, but alas! A dry stretch was misleading, and another curve brought us to a patch of road we obviously weren't the first to attempt.
Tire tracks and footprints told a tale even the most inexperienced could easily read..someone got stuck...perhaps this was a good place to stop and let the dogs play before turning back for safer adventures.
Some folks passed us by, eager to prove they could get to the lake at the top, and it was a short fifteen minutes before we waved to them as they headed back down. Apparently even the most adrenaline driven weren't willing to walk back down the mountain!
So, turning back, we drove a short distance before turning off onto a drier patch, leading to a campsite overlooking the valley below.
It was a little breezy, but still short sleeve warm, and we wandered about for a while, enjoying the grid like view of Montrose and Colona, before hopping back into the car and heading home.
Spring is in the air, it was apparent from the number of others we passed on the road that we were not the only ones ready for such a beautiful day, and eager to escape into the high country, but also pleasant to see we were not alone in the decision not to put ourselves in danger as others headed back down for a drier picnic spot.
It won't be long before all of the four wheel drive roads are open for the season, but until then, just like everyone else, we will have to keep an eye on the County websites as they update everyone on road conditions, and remember to always be safe.
Let the staff at the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs help you to plan your next escape! We research the road and weather conditions daily to ensure the safety of our guests as they experience the majesty of the Uncompahgres. Ready with advice on hiking, off roading and dining options, the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs is your perfect base camp for any adventure!