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Vacation 2006 Page 1

Glass Mountain, Clayton Lake, Capulin Mountain, Spanish Peaks, Great Sand Dunes, Blanca Peak, Monarch Pass, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Telluride, True Grit, Ouray, Box Canyon, Durango Silverton Railroad

by Jenetta Loggan (Supplemented by Dave)

Link to MyPublisher book 2006

Click on any photograph to enlarge the image then click one more time to see more detail

Tues. May 30:

I got to Bartlesville about 8:45AM and got all my things unpacked and stored in the RV.  Cleta took pictures of us getting ready to pullout. We left at 9:45 and headed south to Tulsa with Deanna driving.  At Tulsa we took state highway 412 which would take us all the way to Guymon in the Oklahoma panhandle and on to Clayton New Mexico.  We entered the Cimarron Turnpike (Hwy 412)at 10:45 making good time.  We stopped in Enid for gas, bathroom break, and ate our lunch in the RV.  The next stop was at Glass (Gloss) Mountain State Park about 5 miles west of Orienta Oklahoma.  We took pictures and I picked up several small rocks with shiny minerals in them.  When you get into the area around Glass Mountain the ground takes on a sparkle like diamonds in the sun.  The roads in this part of Oklahoma are really nice and in good condition.  Out in the west of Oklahoma and the northeast corner of New Mexico is where the Santa Fe Trail runs and if you watch there is a place where you can stop and still see the wagon trail running through the hills.  We drove on to Guymon and stopped for gas and restroom break then crossed into New Mexico.  We found our RV park at Clayton (Clayton KOA), New Mexico and had to turn our watches back an hour for mountain time.  The KOA staff were really nice folks providing that extra measure of care for a valued customer.  Isn't it a nice touch to have someone escort you to the site in their four wheeler?  We didn't use any of the amenities at the park other than breakfast the next morning.  After setting up we fixed spaghetti and garlic bread for supper, then drove out to Clayton Lake. Clayton Lake State Park has RV and tenting facilities but no RV sites were available on the date we would be there.  It was further out on highway 370 than Dave remembered and we started to run out of time.  We decided to go back in the morning to view the dinosaur tracks.

Glass Mountains

 

Another Santa Fe Trail map

Clayton Lake State Park Brochure

Wed. May31:

It was a cool 59 degrees this morning at 6:00 AM.  We breakfasted in the KOA's breakfast tent then left for Clayton Lake.  The owners told us that their breakfast tent would only be here this year and then it would be located inside. Interestingly it was a lot of fun sitting in that white tent having breakfast and visiting with the owners.  The food was good, the prices were right (scrambled eggs $1) and the company was great.  On the way to Clayton lake we saw plenty of Pronghorn antelope just grazing on the golden slopes of the hills.  When we arrived at Clayton Lake we walked a trail over the dam to where the dinosaur tracks were located.  Dave was here in the early 70's and the tracks had not been found.  As it turned out the tracks were found quite accidentally when the spillway overflowed washing away the top soil and uncovered the tracks.  Talk about luck!!  There were lots of tracks and by different types of dinosaurs as well.  You could see one spot where a dinosaur had slipped in the mud thousands of years ago and dragged it's tail to get stable again.  We checked in at the Visitor's Center and talked to one of the park rangers.  He showed us a dinosaur foot created when one of the tracks filled with soil and solidified.  Pretty interesting!  We went back to camp and prepared to leave.  We left about 10:30 and reached the Capulin Volcano about an hour later.  We had to unhook the RV at the Visitor's Center and drive to the top of the volcano.  Deanna and I walked part way up to the rim, but the air was thin and I got breathless, so we came back down.  If you select the "Capulin Crater" photo you can see two people at the bottom of the crater.  Big isn't it?  We took a lot of pictures and left at 2:00 PM.

Look at the bottom of the crater to see two people in yellow rain coats.

Capulin Mountain

 

Our RV in the parking lot

Breakfast tent

Pronghorn grazing

Dinosaur Tracks

Raton Pass

Clayton Lake State Park Brochure PDF

Clayton Lake Map PDF

 

Raton Pass

Raton Pass

Spanish Peaks

 

Spanish Peaks

Spanish Peaks

At 2:30 just south of Raton, NM one of the tires on the RV blew out and was shredded by the time we found a place to pull off the road.  You might have known it, we had our blowout problem on two lane blacktop under construction.  Deanna tried calling the insurance company for road service and could get no help there at all !!  A young man named Rick Pintor from Raton stopped and changed the tire for us and told us where we could get new ones in Raton about 5 miles up the road.  He was truly our "angel" in our time of distress.  We found the tire shop and Dave had 4 new tires put on and used one old one for a spare.  The people at the tire shop were so friendly and the men worked very fast.  We were on our way again by 4:00PM and crossed into Colorado at 4:15.  We stopped for gas in Trinidad, Colorado where it was cold, raining and a little windy.  There was lots of white stuff on the ground so being from Oklahoma and at this time of year we thought it was hail.  Nope we soon discovered that it was a snow fall.  We stopped at a pullout near Walsenburg to look at and photograph the Spanish Peaks and to look at Blanca Peak which is 14,346 feet high. Blanca is the fourth highest peak in Colorado and is one of the "fourteeners" in the U.S. Dave said he and his Explorer Scout troop climbed it many years ago when he was 15 years old.  We arrived at the Great Sand Dunes and set up camp at the Oasis RV Park.  The Oasis was just that, an oasis of sand! We weren't too enamored with the RV park but it has a great view of the mountains and the dunes.  We were still about 5 miles away from the Dunes but they were still huge! The Sangre de Cristo Mountains were in the background of the Dunes and the whole scene was a beautiful sight to see.  After supper, we watched TV for a while then went to bed.  We were all really tired.

Great Sand Dunes with the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the background 

The Oasis RV park

 

Thurs. June 1:

I got up at 7:30 AM and fixed coffee. After breakfast, we drove to the Dunes and discovered they had RV parking spots where we could have stayed. Oh well, could have planned that one better huh?  We went to the Visitor's Center then decided to go on to Zapata Falls first, then bring the RV back to the Dunes in the afternoon. Zapata was just up the road so it was no big deal and the drive up to Zapata from the dunes provides a spectacular view of the valley. Deanna and I walked about one and a half miles up a steep rocky path to the Falls. Dave stayed at the truck and used his binoculars and did some video taping of the area. The Falls were absolutely fantastic. It just took your breath away. We went back to camp and packed up the RV, then drove back to the Sand Dunes. Deanna and I climbed up a small rise while Dave did more video taping. The scenery was fabulous. Many people who had climbed about half way up the large dunes looked like little dots on the dunes compared to the size of the dunes. We left about 12:30 and headed on west. We stopped at Mosca for gas, cold drinks, and a rest room break. We had lunch at a pull-out overlooking the beautiful Poncha Springs valley about 2:15, then went on to Monarch Pass (11,312 feet). We saw the ski lift (minus snow) and stopped at Monarch Crest for pictures and rest room. There is a "sorta like" visitors center where you can purchase some souvenirs.  We crossed the Continental Divide at 4:45 PM, then stopped at Dillon's Pinnacle located along the Blue Mesa Reservoir for pictures. The past few miles have been through the Curecanti National Recreation area and it is pretty impressive with Blue Mesa reservoir along the way. Black Canyon of the Gunnison is on the west end of the Curecanti. Here is a very good detailed map and a map of the area . Deanna drove from Gunnison to Montrose and did a wonderful job of maneuvering up mountains and around curves. She is becoming a seasoned RV and truck driver. We reached Country Village RV Resort south of Montrose about 6:05 PM. Country Village is really nice and reasonably priced. It is also at a "sorta" halfway point for many of the attractions in the area. The staff is great and gave us an escort to our site. This park has a WONDERFUL view of the mountains. After setting up, Dave and Deanna went to Wal-Mart to try to find a replacement part for the grill which had broken. I made lemonade and rested while they were gone. Dave couldn't find a replacement part, so bought a new grill which had to be assembled. He and Deanna worked on it and when they got it together, Dave grilled hamburgers for us and we had supper. We all went to bed fairly early that night.

Zapata Falls  

Great Sand Dunes Area PDF

Great Sand Dunes Detail Map JPG

 

Dillon Pinnacles

Country Village RV Park

Country Village with mountains in the background

Ski areas seen from Monarch Pass

Monarch Pass 

 

Friday, June 2:

After breakfast, Deanna called Durango to see about reservations for us to ride the steam engine train. They told us the train would leave at 8:15AM on Sunday morning, so Deanna made reservations for us. We went into Montrose for gas, then drove to Black Canyon of the Gunnison. We watched a film at the Visitor's Center. I bought some pins for Deanna and me. Deanna bought a book and a bottle of water for me. We went to Pilot's Point about noon and took lots and lots of pictures. Absolutely marvelous scenery this time of the year!!. We ate some snacks in the truck and drove down Crystal Road to the East Portal at the bottom of the canyon. This road is REALLY steep. If you have any problems with tight corners (they have conical mirrors on some of them) and a 16 degree drop then you need to rethink going down this road. You definitely don't want to try and tow any size rig. Why do you want to go down to the bottom?  Well, it's gorgeous down there. Also as just a matter of interest; many years ago they drilled a tunnel from this spot to supply Montrose and other folks in this area water from the Gunnison river. The signs warning about currents are in a couple of places. Then we had to turn around and go back up the same road to the top of the canyon. It is 2000 feet deep! Deanna drove part way back up to give Dave a break. We stopped and took pictures of the snowy mountain range in the distance. Back in Montrose, we visited Wal-Mart for some supplies, then went back to camp. We made sandwiches to take in the truck and headed to Telluride. We drove through Ridgway that was originally built to film True Grit and reached Telluride about 3:30. Although Telluride is best known for the winter sports it is really a wonderful place to visit in the summer. Great view of some very special water falls and the scenery going up the gondolas is really breath taking. Speaking of water falls, there is one at the very end of the valley that has a home perched on top with a super zig zag road running up to it and by they way they generate power from the falls. There is one other way to get up to the home. There is a cable driven cable car. Not me!! There is a gondola ride that Telluride runs for free in the summer months. As an attraction I suppose. We rode the glassed-in gondola up and over the top of the mountain to Mountain Village, walked around and took pictures, then rode back down again. Rumor has it that Tom Cruise owns a house on the Mountain Village side.  The gondola ride was free!! We toured the town and shops and drove down a street that took us close to 2 nice waterfalls, one with a house built up at the top of it. We went back into town and looked for tee shirt shops. Deanna got a pink Telluride shirt and I got a navy blue one. Next we drove out to see the "True Grit" homestead. We side tracked down to Last Dollar Road to see where John Wayne jumped his horse over a fence in the last part of the movie. Sadly, the house and barn is going to ruins but the fence looked pretty good. We saw elk, dear, beaver dams, a marmot and trees that had been felled by the beavers. We stopped in Ridgway and photographed the True Grit Restaurant and some old buildings, then went back to camp.  On the way back to camp we passed Ridgeway State Park that would be a really great place to tent camp, fish, swim, RV camp and about anything else. Here is the Ridgway State Park brocure.  And a map of the Dutch Charlie part of the park.

Wide view of the mountains toward Silverton

Black Canyon Visitors Center

At the gondola lift

Black Canyon of the Gunnison

At the bottom of Black Canyon

Telluride. Do you see the house at the waterfall?

Telluride side of the mountains

Telluride

Check out this runway or is it a ski jump?

Mountain Village side

Mountain Village

Colorado Columbine

Here is something really fun!! Did you know there were several movies made in Colorado? Like True Grit, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and City Slickers??

Ridgway

The "farm" where True Grit was filmed

Saturday, June 3:

I got up at 6:30 and made coffee, and packed some things to take to Durango. We will drive down later today and stay in a motel as we have to be there to board the train at 8:15 AM. It is a 2 hour drive from Montrose to Durango, so we will do some sight-seeing along the way. We left camp and headed for Ouray (U-RAY) where we did some shopping at an art gallery, then watched a glass blower making glass objects. Was his name Sam? He told us that he had some work in the Smithsonian. It was very interesting as he described every step of the process as he did it. We then went to Box Canon Falls, walked the short trail and saw and heard the Falls. They are loud and so awesome! They have a zillion chipmunks hanging around the area and your kids will love watching their antics. Ouray's nickname is Switzerland of America because the area is so mountainous. Ouray is where the million dollar highway starts and it turned out to be the thrill of the day. Very, very narrow, twisting, with steep grades and one low tunnel. It was a little scary to see a big crack on the side of the road and look down a thousand feet or so where you would land. We DEFINITELY will not pull the RV over this road!! The Million Dollar Highway is part of the San Juan Scenic Byway and even though it is a tense road to travel it provides some spectacular views. We saw several old abandoned mines and slag heaps on the way from Ouray to Silverton. We reached Red Mountain Peak, (11,118 ft.) then started descending the mountain to Silverton where we stopped to eat lunch. We then drove out to the Old Hundred Gold Mine and took the tour through the mine. When we got back on top, they showed us how to pan for gold or silver. I found a little piece of silver. We went to the tourist information center for some brochures, then stopped at Molas Pass for pictures of the scenery. There are Red Cliffs outside Durango which we reached at 4:35 PM. We located the Hampton Inn then drove to the train station to pick up our tickets. We ate supper at Denny's, went to Wal-Mart to pick up film, then on to the Hampton Inn to rest. Deanna and I soaked in the hot tub while Dave rested in our room. I then took a shower and we watched TV until bedtime.

Ouray

Box Canyon

Ouray from the overlook

Silverton

100 Gold Mine

Durango Silverton Railroad

Train Station

Do you see the raft shooting the rapids?

Near Old 100

Silverton from Hundred Gold Mine

At Silverton

Deanna praying that we will make it back home over the million dollar highway.  Just Kidding!

How's this for a sharp turn?

Sunday, June 4:

          I got up about 5:00AM as I couldn't sleep. Our wake-up call came at 6:30 so Dave and Deanna got up then. We got dressed and had our breakfast in the dining room. Be aware that you can go by bus to Silverton and come back on the train or take the train to Silverton and ride the bus back. It will save you about 2 hours for the whole trip. You can also go to Silverton and spend the night. We boarded the Durango Silverton train about 8:15, but it didn't leave til 9:00 AM. The coal fired engine and train proved to be a super experience. There were two basic styles of cars on the train, the "open gondola" and an enclosed car with windows. We highly recommend the open gondola because it gives you the best view of everything. Very impressive scenery all along the way from Durango to Silverton with an occasional stop so the engine could pick up water. There was a long climb up the mountain with some really amazing overlooks of the river below and then a point where you were level with the river for quite some time. Did you know there is a private resort on the railroad about halfway to Silverton??  Neither did we but it appeared to be pretty up scale. We had lunch at Silverton, did some shopping and sight-seeing. We took the bus back to Durango and got back about 4:00 PM. If we had ridden the train back, it would have been 6:00 PM and we still had a two hour drive back to Montrose through Silverton and the million dollar highway once again. We had supper in Montrose at KFC (yummy), stopped at Wal-Mart, then went back to the RV. We were all so tired! !!

 

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