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Exploring Around Ouray

DaVikes

Active Member
My wife and I went to Ouray last week. We got there late Monday, and left Friday morning. On Tuesday we drove up Yankee Boy Basin, then hiked to Blue Lake Pass. Wednesday we drove down the Million Dollar Highway, took Ophir Pass to Telluride, and then took the Last Dollar Road to Ridgeway. Thursday we hiked to Lower Ice Lake, and then drove up to Clear Lake. We had awesome weather, and the San Juan's are beautiful. Imogene and Black Bear were still closed by snow. We didn't camp, we stayed at an inn. (I can only load 10 pics per post, so other posts to follow.) Here are some pics:

An early overland vehicle. With no view of the horizon ahead, I think a lot of people must have gotten seasick in these. I think those long windows are to make it easier to lean out of. We have it pretty cushy today. (We stayed at the Hot Springs Inn. Highly recommend it.)

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Before getting to Ouray, we made a quick stop to do the Hanging Lake hike, just outside of Glenwood Springs. This is why people do it.
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This is the road at the beginning of Yankee Boy Basin. It's smooth for the first 3-4 miles, which takes you to the first Mt Sneffles trailhead. It gets rougher after that, probably a 3 on the Traildamage scale. We couldn't get to the second Sneffles trailhead due to snow.
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Looking back at the road, this is the infamous notch that you see in pictures of Imogene Pass. Imogene was blocked by snow, so we couldn't do it. So instead of turning left to do Imogene, we went straight on to Yankee Boy Basin.
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If you drive up Yankee Boy Basin, then hike for a few minutes, this is what you see. The drive is pretty easy for anything with some clearance, at least to the point we got to, where snow blocked the road.
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If you hike to the top of Blue Lake Pass, this is what you see on the other side. The hike is harder the way we did it, from Ouray. If you start in Ridgeway it's easier.
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This is looking back at Yankee Boy Basin. The truck was about 1.5 miles away down there somewhere.
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DaVikes

Active Member
We were tired after that hike, so on Wednesday we headed down the Million Dollar Highway, then took Ophir Pass eventually to Telluride.


Met Bob, from Ft. Collins, who owns this business. I always admire someone who can make a living doing something like this.
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On the road up Ophir Pass.
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Just over the pass, there was a little snow on the west side.
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No passing zone. There is a stretch of about a half mile to a mile where you can't pass another vehicle, and you are supposed to wait at the top and watch for uphill traffic before you start down. It's actually easier to see from the first switchback on the trail, and there is plenty of room there.
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Town of Ophir in the valley.
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That really is their post office.
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Nice FJ40 in Telluride. No, remember we're in Telluride. It's an ICON FJ. Everyone laughs at the ICON's, but I would trade day jobs with the owner.
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DaVikes

Active Member
Leaving Telluride, we took Last Dollar Road north. It begins right next to the airport. It's an easy drive if it's dry. If it's wet, there are about 8 miles of clay that become very sticky for even 4wd vehicles. The road is 21 miles long, with lots of great views.

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Near this house, we saw a ranch that said it was homesteaded in 1895. In 1895, they were a good half day's horseback ride from Telluride, with no electricity or running water. People were tough back then.
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View from almost the end of the road.
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DaVikes

Active Member
On Thursday we hiked to Lower Ice Lake in the morning, then drove up to Clear Lake. The trailhead for the hike is just about a 1/4 mile past the trailhead for the drive, so this was an easy combo.

You can just make out Lower Ice Lake through the trees at the bottom left of the picture.
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Just another average view.
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The drive up to Clear Lake a was uneventful, except for one hairpin with a snowdrift blocking most of it. We got past it by cutting the inside corner, which was steep enough that my tires spun a bit even with the rear locked. Up higher on the road, you have to chose between driving right next to the edge or putting two wheels up on a ledge and hopefully not getting hung up. There is a narrow uphill corner that is steep enough that I could just barely see the road bend to the right. Not really that hard, but visually challenging.

There were lots of Marmots up top.
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Clear Lake. It's pretty much surrounded by granite and snow, and felt a little like a different planet.
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My wife.
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Poser shot. My truck is right in the middle of the picture. The road was blocked there by a snow drift, so we hiked up to this vantage point.
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Overland1

Administrator
Staff member
Thanks for the writeup and pictures. Makes me want to get out to Ouray since it's been 10 years since I was there last.