The Road Between Ouray and Silverton

We have been in an internet and phone blackhole for the past 4 days, so I have a bit of catching up to do.
September 26

Guarding the entrance to our campground

We moved down to the town of Montrose today. It is about 40 miles south of Cimarron where we were staying for a couple of days. We found an RV Park on the south end of town which would serve as our base for the next couple of days while we explore the roads to, and around Ouray and Silverton. We haven’t been here during fall for many years, but I remembered how dramatic the aspen were on the sheer cliffs between the two towns. Our arrival day was pretty dreary. Heavy cloud cover gave way to a steady rain that lasted all day. We had a forced “down day” which allowed use to catch up on blogging and shopping etc. We took a little stroll around the RV Park – the grounds here are actually pretty nice. The park backed up next to a river and there were several large ponds with wildlife. A resident owl greeted us and later, a small flock of sheep from a nearby farm munched their way through the campground.

On the way to Ouray

September 27
In the morning, we set out on another road trip. Highway 550 to Ouray from Montrose travels through a largely rural landscape which is nice, but not particularly photographic to us. We were happy though, to see lots of new anti-deer fencing going up along the way. As you approach the town, you begin to wonder how a road could possibly go through there. It seems to be blocked in by the looming mountains all around. But a road there is. We stopped briefly to get some road info from the visitor center, then headed up the hill.

The town of Ouray laid out before us.

Can’t remember seeing the waterfall ever before.

Of course we stopped many times along the way. There seemed to be a newly constructed turnout and viewpoint about halfway up. A walkway had been added that allowed us to actually walk out over the cliff to a point where we could observe a pretty amazing waterfall that, for the life of me, I could not ever remember seeing before. It really isn’t visible from the road until you actually drive over the bridge that crosses it, and then it’s just a brief flash of water – until you get out of the car. Other stops were for canyon shots, waterway shots, more aspen shots and a few mountain view shots. All spectacular – to us anyway.

Toward the top the aspen were getting pretty much past peak, but I found plenty to play with. I am finding I really like the sparse areas where just a few aspen are still in color. I really like the bare trunks and lacy looking entanglements their branches create. The partly cloudy skies over the mountains were also creating nice highlights in ever changing ways.

Some areas resembled fire in the tree tops.

We spent so much time just getting to Silverton that it was nearly 2 PM by the time we stopped for lunch at the Brown Bear Cafe. They had a really nice Octoberfest beer from the Silverton Brewery that even Mary approved of. The burger and fries we both had were really good as well. I’m not sure what the alcohol content was of that beer, but by half pint I was already feeling it. Probably the altitude had something to do with it as well.

Dropping down into Silverton.

After lunch we walked around town a bit before heading back. The town has really lost a lot of it’s appeal for me. Back in 1983 when we first visited, it really was nearly a ghost town. A few people lived there, a few businesses survived, but the town was largely a bunch of abandoned buildings. Much more appealing to me then. Today there are a couple of RV Parks and most buildings are occupied. There is even a newer housing development. I didn’t even take out my camera and Mary took just a couple of shots. The only paved road is Main St. The rest remain hard-pack dirt. Some things have not changed. The old library (which is still an operating library) and state building are worth seeing still.
Heading back over the mountain, we were both pretty tired, but I wanted to stop at a spot we stopped at on the way up. Cloud cover had come over while I was setting up and turned my hoped for composition dull, so I wanted to try on the way back.

Rainbow down in the valley.

It was actually raining when we got back to the spot, but I decided to wait a while to see if it would lighten up. The rain was getting lighter as we came down from the summit and I thought it a good chance a break would occur long enough to get my shot. I got out and set up while a few drops continued. Mary called out that I should look off to my right, and when I did, I saw a really nice rainbow had formed a little further down the canyon. It was quite intense and soon there were a half dozen cars pulled to the side, but we had the best location. It just goes to show how being willing to wait for a shot can turn into something wonderful.

We pretty much headed back to camp afterwards. We took a short country road detour we had heard about and while it was nice, the cloud cover had obscured the view of the mountains and kind of spoiled it. But we were done for the day anyway.


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