Monday, September 24
Our plan was to drive the 60 miles or so to Montrose and from there explore the Ourey and Silverton areas for fall foliage. There were some rain showers during the night and in the morning quite a bit of cloud cover remained. It looked like more showers were on the way even though that wasn’t supposed to happen till the evening . We packed up and were out on the road by mid-morning. With the cloud cover over the water, the rest of the Blue Mesa reservoir was pretty interesting, but as the road began to rise, it got even better.
I saw numerous places I’d like to stop, but once again there was little room in most turnouts to do so in the LD. As highway 50 dropped down into a canyon it got still better and we began to think maybe we should hang around the area a little longer. Mary began checking the camp books and found a small, family run RV park called Black Canyon. It is situated about 20 miles from Montrose in a lovely valley with amazing views all around. Being too close to the highway means it’s a little noisy during the day, but at $25 a night, not a bad spot for a couple of days. Virtually no cellphone coverage here, even with the booster, and their WiFi is not good, but we expected to be pretty busy so it really didn’t matter.
With the interesting lighting because of the cloud cover, we chose Cimarron Road to drive first. This is a 27 mile hard pack dirt road that rises around 3000′ to Silver Jack Reservoir and Owl Pass. The road becomes Owl Pass Road from the pass and drops down 3000′ back to the main highways. After getting situated, we started off, but as we began to drive up the mountain, it was clear stormy weather was on the way. We stopped for lunch at a pullout and watched as the thunder and lightning came our way.
It looked pretty thick up where we were headed, so we decided to turn back and retrace our highway 50 route since it was on paved road and not dirt. We went straight to the Blue Mesa reservoir overlook before turning back and stopping at every spot we saw originally. This was pretty great except for the large trucks that came roaring by making it a less than enjoyable experience. When we got back into the little canyon, we found another dirt road that seemed to go up into the hills. It was called Alpine Plateau Road and promised to be a better choice to photograph from than 50.
And it certainly was. It gently meandered up into some terrific rolling hillsides covered with aspen in various stages of color. Lots of summer homes and ranches up here. Very quiet with wide expansive views in many places. While the cloud cover was increasing, the main body of the rain and thundershowers seemed to bypass the area and we had a very enjoyable ride and shoot kind of afternoon. We decided to leave Cimarron Road for tomorrow.