Ouray enjoys a bountiful snowfall in most years and the high alpine terrain around Ouray Colorado gets even more. To ensure a longer lasting and great 4WD season, Ouray and the surrounding counties call on their road and bridge department personnel to clear the roads. In early May (weather depending of course), Ouray County starts the plowing efforts. Typically, Camp Bird Road (Ouray County 361) gets the first days of plowing. The bulldozer driver and a volunteer head up the way, slowly moving snow from the road to the side. This road is plowed past Twin Falls and up to the location of the bathrooms. The remainder of the basin remains unplowed for the time being.
Then, the crew moves to the roads of Red Mountain and then onto Corkscrew Pass. Meanwhile, San Juan County (Silverton) and San Miguel County (Telluride) crews are also working on their roads. Each county plugs away on their territory and the glorious sun does its work too (and hopefully, temperatures cooperate) and melts much of the snow away. By the time the counties hit the high alpine passes in mid to late June, the job is still daunting, but the task is just about complete. Road crews meet at the top and then residents and visitors alike can enjoy the spectacular San Juan Mountains in Southwest Colorado.
The process of clearing snow on the large north facing snowfield in Imogene Basin and then up on the pass is very dangerous. Since the road is not visible, the dozer driver must be meticulous and accurate with ample experience to know where to plow next. As you see from the photograph, the road is not very obvious so experience in the terrain is a must. Imogene Pass is typically the last area cleared and the goal is that it is complete by July 4th weekend but never guaranteed. With its high elevation, warm days are not the norm. Enjoyable temperatures remain in the fifties and sixties at the pass itself, even on the hottest days in Ouray.
If you are thinking of a scenic jeep tour in the Ouray area or you would like to rent your own jeep and drive the 4WD roads, the season typically begins in mid-May and lasts until the roads close again in the fall, typically by the end of October.
At our Ouray hotel, we are delighted to make reservations for your scenic tour. Typically, one day notice is all that is required to get you on a tour, but, if you have a particular desire, it is best to let us reserve your trip with more advance notice. The Box Canyon Lodge also offers a Stay and Play package that includes a jeep tour for two. Our natural, odor free Colorado hot springs feel very good after a long day in the high country!
Latest Status: As of May 22, 2011, Ouray Road and Bridge are still working in Yankee Boy Basin. Follow us on Facebook and we will keep people updated.