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Old 05-26-2009, 02:47 PM
 
Location: Colorado
4,308 posts, read 12,663,535 times
Reputation: 4462

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First of all I want to say a big Thank You to everyone who helped me out with advice on routes and what to see and do on my recent roadtrip down to MV. It was WONDERFUL! As recommended, my mother and I left nice and early to drive thro Denver and get onto Hwy 285 south and we either got really lucky with almost zero traffic or everyone else was still in bed. Hwy 285 was amazing and there was so many different things to see: the wooded mountains around Bailey, the bleak and seemingly endless plain around Fairplay and South Park, the white and sandy soils near Sand Dunes national park . . . Incidentally, what on earth do people actually DO around Fairplay?! We couldn't see any farming or ranching or oil/gas industry going on and not a soul walking or horseback riding. It was like driving thro Salem's Lot!

Didn't think a lot of Durango altho we were exhausted by then but Cortez was small and cosy and our hotel was great. Our tour at MV was the next afternoon but I HIGHLY recommend you go in the morning. Firstly, it's a good half hour drive from the main gate to the Far View Lodge and you will want time to stop along the way to look and take pictures. You cannot possibly see the entire park in one day but our guided tour by bus did give us a good look at a small part of it and our tour guide was excellent. I recommend the restaurant in the Far View Lodge but stick with the meat dishes.

Despite all the doom and gloom we'd heard and read we did drive to Gunnison via Ouray and the Million Dollar Highway. I would recommend that if you are slightly faint of heart to take the north route as it's on the inside against the cliff-face and even if you're an experienced driver do not take this road for granted. The views are spectacular, the bends in the road may make you seasick and your arms might be sore and tired by the time you stop for a stiff drink in Ouray, but it's well worth the effort. And it only takes about half an hour.

Beautiful scenic drive the rest of the way to Gunnison and beyond to get home. Did not stop at the Black Canyon but maybe next time.
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Old 05-26-2009, 04:45 PM
 
17,229 posts, read 23,105,710 times
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Hi Chilaili! Sounds like you had a great time.

Fairplay isn't at the top of the list of retirement spots, to be sure. But I have a lot of respect for the folks who live there. Haven't spent a lot of time in South Park, but used to. My sister lives about 2 miles north of Crow Hill, north of Bailey, so I scoot through there every now and then. I spent the night there just one time but it was pretty memorable, sleeping on the floor at the Top Of The World cafe there along with several other people a couple decades back. If you've never been through a ground blizzard before, South park will be the place to experience the ultimate!

Good advice regarding Mesa Verde. To see everything there takes a couple days at least. At this time of the year you will start to see a lot of tour buses visit the park and a lot of the tourists are from are from France, Germany, and the Scandinavian countries. I know some people who have small shops in Cortez there and they have had customers from throughout Europe.

Next time spend a day at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, have been through there several times. You'd love it! I'll tell you what you'll really love is going through the canyon from the bottom. River rafting on the Gunnison through the park!

Last edited by DOUBLE H; 05-26-2009 at 05:00 PM..
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Old 05-26-2009, 07:01 PM
 
8,317 posts, read 27,699,166 times
Reputation: 9236
Quote:
Originally Posted by chilaili View Post
First of all I want to say a big Thank You to everyone who helped me out with advice on routes and what to see and do on my recent roadtrip down to MV. It was WONDERFUL! As recommended, my mother and I left nice and early to drive thro Denver and get onto Hwy 285 south and we either got really lucky with almost zero traffic or everyone else was still in bed. Hwy 285 was amazing and there was so many different things to see: the wooded mountains around Bailey, the bleak and seemingly endless plain around Fairplay and South Park, the white and sandy soils near Sand Dunes national park . . . Incidentally, what on earth do people actually DO around Fairplay?! We couldn't see any farming or ranching or oil/gas industry going on and not a soul walking or horseback riding. It was like driving thro Salem's Lot!

Didn't think a lot of Durango altho we were exhausted by then but Cortez was small and cosy and our hotel was great. Our tour at MV was the next afternoon but I HIGHLY recommend you go in the morning. Firstly, it's a good half hour drive from the main gate to the Far View Lodge and you will want time to stop along the way to look and take pictures. You cannot possibly see the entire park in one day but our guided tour by bus did give us a good look at a small part of it and our tour guide was excellent. I recommend the restaurant in the Far View Lodge but stick with the meat dishes.

Despite all the doom and gloom we'd heard and read we did drive to Gunnison via Ouray and the Million Dollar Highway. I would recommend that if you are slightly faint of heart to take the north route as it's on the inside against the cliff-face and even if you're an experienced driver do not take this road for granted. The views are spectacular, the bends in the road may make you seasick and your arms might be sore and tired by the time you stop for a stiff drink in Ouray, but it's well worth the effort. And it only takes about half an hour.

Beautiful scenic drive the rest of the way to Gunnison and beyond to get home. Did not stop at the Black Canyon but maybe next time.
Glad you had a good trip. About South Park (the place, not the TV show)--that is a very sad story about what Front Range population growth did to a beautiful area of Colorado. From the 1880's until the 1960's, South Park was one of the most beautiful areas of Colorado. There were literally tens of thousands of acres of sub-irrigated pastures and hay meadows that covered much of the park (by the way, for the uninitiated, "park" is a western term for a large valley surrounded by mountains). The area, despite its high elevation, was a top hay producing area of the state, and tens of thousands of cattle grazed there. I can remember going through there as a kid when, in midsummer, the grass looked like a green, wavy ocean from the top of Kenosha Pass, and the grass would be up to the bellies of the cattle in the fields. All of that changed when the Front Range cities bought up all of the water rights and diverted the water--mostly to irrigate ****ing Kentucky Bluegrass lawns in Denver, Aurora, etc., leaving South Park the dry, desolate place it is today. It is one of the true Colorado growth tragedies, and as an old native Coloradan, I'm still bitter about it.

Unfortunately, if the uncontrolled growth and water-squandering habits of the Front Range continue, a similar fate awaits much of Middle Park (where Denver already owns a large chunk of the water rights). The Front Range water buffaloes have had their eyes on water in North Park (which is about the closest resemblance to what South Park was before it was dried up), the Tomichi valley east of Gunnison, and even the expansive San Luis Valley, as well. The people who keep wishing for growth on the Front Range should drive through those places, then look at South Park--and recognize what a good chunk of the rest of Colorado will look like if their wish comes true. Maybe then they would pull their heads out of Kentucky Bluegrass lawns and realize that what they are doing has very serious negative consequences to large areas of this magnificent state--including much of its relatively scarce and fragile riparian and wetland areas, as well as many thousands of acres of irrigated pasturelands--many of those planted in native grasses since the 1870's.
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Old 05-27-2009, 10:56 AM
 
Location: Bend, OR
3,296 posts, read 9,057,856 times
Reputation: 3335
I lived in Fairplay for about 5 years when I worked for the US Forest Service. Most people that live in Fairplay either work for the Forest Service, or work over in summit county at the resorts. It has become a bedroom community for Breckenridge. It is a very harsh place to live, but the summers there were amazing and I feel fortunate to have spent those years there.
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Old 05-27-2009, 02:04 PM
 
Location: Colorado
4,308 posts, read 12,663,535 times
Reputation: 4462
Quote:
Originally Posted by delta07 View Post
I lived in Fairplay for about 5 years when I worked for the US Forest Service. Most people that live in Fairplay either work for the Forest Service, or work over in summit county at the resorts. It has become a bedroom community for Breckenridge. It is a very harsh place to live, but the summers there were amazing and I feel fortunate to have spent those years there.
Good to know, thanks. It's always so intriguing to see these small communities scattered about the state and wonder how and why they came about and how they manage to survive.
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