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Old 03-17-2010, 12:11 AM
 
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Hey guys, some brief questions. I will be going on a road trip through parts of Colorado, and am wondering about hings to not miss on my trip. We will be entering from the west and our first stop will be in Ouray. We will head south to Silverton and go over the Alpine Scenic Loop rd to Lake City, then drive straight to Great Sand dunes, and head through Alamosa, west to Durango.

I was thinking about camping out a ghost town outside of Ouray called Sneffels. Is this advisable or even legal? We plan to hang out on public lands. What about Yankee Boy basin in late July, early August? How are the wildflowers then?

And what's cool in Ouray to do which doesn't cost an arm and a leg?

Anything to see and do on the way to Silverton?

We are planning on driving a Dodge Ram 1500 over the Alpine Loop Rd. I don't think it should be a problem. What is a great hike or mountain summit from this road?

What about Great Sand Dunes? Favorite hike or activity there? We are thinking of climbing Mt. Blanca. Anyone have any input on this?

And then over to Durango. Not sure what there is to see on this stretch!
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Old 03-17-2010, 01:36 AM
 
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Wink Ouray, Alpine Loop, etc.

For your excursion on the Alpine Loop, this may prove helpful:
Engineer Pass Trail Report

If from Silverton, then presumably you'll be driving through Animas Forks to take Cinnamon Pass to Lake City. Apparently it will not pose much problem for a 4x4 with low range. Should you attempt it, Engineer Pass is a different matter. East of the divide it is a fairly easy drive, and just out of Lake City will seem like a picnic. Thus I was surprised to encounter German tourists with a new Toyota Land Cruiser at the side of the road attempting to fix a flat. Fortunately they were close to their destination of Lake City, as the rugged spare tire hung under the back of the Toyota was useless, with a big gash in it. Further west the reason why was easily discovered. West of the divide, the last few miles of this pass until its junction with the paved highway a few miles south of Ouray, is steep, very rocky, and rugged. Definite 4x4 territory, and easy enough to tear up anything if badly driven. But of course scenic.

There are falls within a narrow rock defile on the west side of Ouray which might be nice to visit. This beautiful town also enjoys a number of natural hot springs, which can be enjoyed in the private pools of some hotels, or the public pool at the north edge of town.

At 10,610 feet Sneffels actually had a post office for about 50 years, until 1930. It was established due mining in 1875. Have no idea about camping, although there is a camp ground just east of and above Ouray. In regard to Sneffles, this may prove of interest:
Sneffels - Colorado Ghost Town
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Old 03-17-2010, 07:57 AM
 
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
2,139 posts, read 5,484,234 times
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Sounds like a great trip!
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Old 03-17-2010, 09:55 AM
 
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
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Ouray has hot springs. There's also some trailheads located on the edge of town.

The stretch from Alamosa to Durango is very pretty. There are some lakes, rivers, campgrounds and trails along the way (some of these are 10-20 miles off the main highway).
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Old 03-17-2010, 11:35 AM
 
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The OP did not say whether his pickup was 2WD or 4WD. 2WD? Forget it. Personally, though I did it as part of my work for years, I don't like driving full-size trucks over most of the trails in the San Juans--those trucks are simply too wide to be driven comfortably over many of the trails. It can be done on many trails (but some not), but it's often not much fun, especially if you meet any other traffic--which, sadly, you are very like to do on the better-known trails. Also, many stock 4WD vehicles sold these days lack the basic equipment--like skid plates, adequate gearing, ground clearance, etc.--to be operated over trails that are anything worse than a mild trail. My litmus test for ground clearance, for example, is a minimum of 8" at the lowest point of the vehicle. Vehicles with independent front suspensions can lose up to 1/3 or more of their ground clearance at the front axle when the suspension goes into full deflection, so that should be taken into account when computing the minimum clearance.

A lot of flatland "Main Street" four wheelers show up in Colorado every summer and many of them wind up having problems thanks to either an inadequate vehicle or inadequate 4-wheeling experience to handle the trails they tackle. A few of them usually wind up killing or seriously injuring themselves or their passengers in the process.

A bit about the Alpine Loop: A very scenic trip with most of the trails rating about a 3-5, with 10 being the most arduous. As noted already, however, the lower portion of the Engineer Pass road from Animas Forks down to Hwy. 550 has become much more arduous in the last few years--lots of ruts, undercarriage grabbing rocks, and other obstacles that really weren't a problem a few years back. This is pretty much a trend all over the San Juans. All of the agencies responsible for maintenance of the trails--the Forest Service, BLM, and counties--are having real budget problems and maintenance (what of it there has been) on most of the trails is being significantly curtailed. Some of the worse trails have become or are likely to become impassable in the next few years.

And, before anyone asks, I've been four-wheeling for nearly 40 years now, both for work and pleasure--over some of the roughest trails in the Rocky Mountain West. I know what works and what doesn't.
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Old 03-17-2010, 12:31 PM
 
Location: Everywhere and Nowhere
14,131 posts, read 26,250,313 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzlover View Post
And, before anyone asks, I've been four-wheeling for nearly 40 years now, both for work and pleasure--over some of the roughest trails in the Rocky Mountain West. I know what works and what doesn't.
That was after your mule died, right?
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Old 03-17-2010, 01:43 PM
 
Location: Wherabouts Unknown!
7,754 posts, read 16,450,212 times
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michael11747 asks:
What about Great Sand Dunes? Favorite hike or activity there?
Just get on the dunes and walk. Within a fairly short distance you will have oupaced most of the turists and you'll have the Dunes to yourself and a few other adventurous souls. Unless you've really got an eye for subtle variations in the play of the light, and the shapes of a specific dune, it all looks MAGNIFICENT! Wear sunglasses.
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Old 03-17-2010, 01:47 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzlover View Post
And, before anyone asks, I've been four-wheeling for nearly 40 years now, both for work and pleasure--over some of the roughest trails in the Rocky Mountain West. I know what works and what doesn't.
Good to know. I would have guessed at least 150 years. Starting with 4 wagon wheels and some sturdy oxen.
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Old 03-17-2010, 03:00 PM
 
8,317 posts, read 25,095,377 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by treedonkey View Post
Good to know. I would have guessed at least 150 years. Starting with 4 wagon wheels and some sturdy oxen.
Well, the first 4WD I rode in was a 1948 Willys Jeep, way back in '60. I drove a Jeep the first time when I was 10--admittedly not very far. The forty year number comes from how long I've been legally driving. By the time I was 21, I had already logged several thousand miles of arduous backcountry 4WD trail driving in Colorado. I don't do as much of it as I used to--I simply don't have the time and I get sick of seeing places in the backcountry that used to be quiet and empty that are now full of morons who don't understand the first thing about backcountry etiquette. My backcountry driving technique is to be as quiet as possible with as little impact on the terrain as possible, not seeing how loud and obnoxious one can be and how much virgin ground one can tear up just to be a macho s***head.
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Old 03-17-2010, 03:34 PM
 
Location: NOCO
535 posts, read 1,363,271 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzlover View Post
Well, the first 4WD I rode in was a 1948 Willys Jeep, way back in '60. I drove a Jeep the first time when I was 10--admittedly not very far. The forty year number comes from how long I've been legally driving. By the time I was 21, I had already logged several thousand miles of arduous backcountry 4WD trail driving in Colorado. I don't do as much of it as I used to--I simply don't have the time and I get sick of seeing places in the backcountry that used to be quiet and empty that are now full of morons who don't understand the first thing about backcountry etiquette. My backcountry driving technique is to be as quiet as possible with as little impact on the terrain as possible, not seeing how loud and obnoxious one can be and how much virgin ground one can tear up just to be a macho s***head.
Quality post. You don't need to impose yourself on everything, is the key how much you put into your truck or where you're going? I love to drive trails, but often have jsut as good of a time with boots on the ground.
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