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  • Writer's pictureBarbi Taylor

Respite in Southwestern Colorado

It’s been nearly two months since my last entry, and in less than a month we’ll be home. Right now we’re basically hanging out in the Tetons, one of our favorite places. That’s the advantage of RVing, you can take your time to soak in a location without going broke, especially considering the ridiculous hotel rates right now. If you remember, in July we had to try to escape the heat due to the fact that our air conditioner died in Dallas, Texas. We rearranged our plans. Initially we intended to spend about ten days in Colorado and three weeks in Idaho. Idaho, however, was having a heat wave too, plus multiple wildfires. So, Colorado and higher elevations seemed just the ticket, and we modified our plans to be there for a full month. It was a blessing in disguise, because we discovered and fell in love with a new area, that of Ridgeway/Ouray.

From Montrose to Durango and over to Telluride we filled a month with a variety of activities and scenery. First there was the surprising Black Canyon of the Gunnison, just east of Montrose. What a beautiful National Park, somewhat undiscovered at this point, yet awe inspiring. Then there was the Ridgeway/Ouray area, surrounded by the San Juan Mountain range. As you drive into Ouray the mountains unexpectedly rise up with their jagged peaks, which reminded us of the tops of the Tetons. The town of Ouray is encircled by mountains, along with a hike high above the town that includes two beautiful waterfalls. Ouray is also know for its hot springs as well as the entrance to the Million Dollar Highway, a beautiful drive that puts you not only on the edge of your seat but also the edge of the cliffs. Further south is Silverton and it’s significant mining history along with the northern end of the Durango/Silverton narrow gauge train service. The train ride is a beautiful way to see the sights along the Animas River in the San Juan Mountains and experience railway travel as it was in the late 1880’s. In addition, all throughout the area are trails for the off road aficionado, taking you to waterfalls, beautiful vistas, and mountain peaks. Our Jeep took us to some fun places. Lastly, Telluride is just an hour or so away with shopping and a free gondola ride to Mountain Village, a quiet summer spot for lunch, or a busy ski area in the winter. Do I sound like a travel agent? Well, that’s just how much there is to do in the area and how much we enjoyed it!

We made our home base at Ridgway State Park. They have multiple campgrounds, our favorite being Elk Ridge. The park encompasses a lake, has a marina for boating, kayaking, and standup paddling. The vistas across the lake, especially from Elk Ridge, were stunning. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay there. There weren’t hookups, but water was convenient to every campsite and rates were only $18 per night. For us, the shady spots on Elk Ridge were perfect, because it cooled off quickly at night and we could enjoy sleeping with the windows open.

We’re very thankful we had the extended time in this fairly quiet part of Colorado. We were surprised that almost all the license plates we saw were either Colorado or Texas. It seems to be more of a local destination than your typical tourist area. We liked that. We certainly made the best of our situation and discovered a new favorite as a result!

Our video on this area should be available soon on YouTube, or on the YouTube Videos tab here on our website. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison video is complete and currently available. Check it out if you haven’t already. That park is the newest National Park and right now is somewhat undiscovered. If you get to Colorado, go visit it before it becomes a major destination and overcrowded. Everyone we spoke to there was awe struck and compared it favorably to the Grand Canyon.

Until next time, stay safe, healthy, and make the best of everyday!

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