Having a four-wheel drive for a tow vehicle sure comes in handy when you are in country that has such awesome four-wheel drive routes.
Ouray Colorado is one of those places that 4-wheelers come from around the country and around the world to visit.
One of the most popular routes in the area is the Alpine loop and we were ready for the challenge!
Starting from Ouray we headed for Corkscrew Gulch and Hurricane Pass (12,407’), then California Gulch and over California Pass (12,930’) to Animas Forks. Along the way the scenery was amazing.
Coming upon a large broad valley filled with sheep and of course the summer encampment of the sheep hearder.
Hard to tell by this photo but the water in this stream was the most beautiful ice blue color and the wildflowers in the meadows and on the hills were awesome!
Animas Forks is accessible by an easier dirt road out of Silverton so there were quite a few vehicles there when we arrived. Wanting a more wilderness experience we barely slowed down before continuing up the more difficult Engineer Pass heading toward Lake City.
There were a few technical areas and places along the way where the road was quite narrow (one lane) with steep drop offs.
We were lucky enough to see a couple of marmots playing in the middle of the road before disappearing into the rocks next to the roadway. (If you look at the photo above they are ahead of us on the narrow road!)
A stop at “Oh Point” for lunch then over Engineer Pass (12,800’) and glad we brought along our jackets, as it was chilly and breezy over the passes at high altitudes.
Passing through a number of old mining areas added to the interesting points on the route.
By the time we reached Lake City it was already late afternoon. Having averaged a mere 5 mph over those backroads made for a long day and our original plan of returning over Cinnamon Pass was diverted by exhaustion and the lateness of the day. So deciding to save that route for another time we returning to Ridgway via 60+ miles of highway roads.
All and all a great day…… watch for Part two as we travel Ophir Pass into Telluride!