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San Juan Skyway Tour 2009

By Jenetta Loggan

 

Page 1

           Last updated: January 22, 2012

Link to MyPublisher Book 2009

Click on any photograph to enlarge the image then click one more time to see more detail
We are SO excited about this years vacation back to Colorado, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas and the VLA.  We did a similar trip in 2006 and we just have had the urgings to do it again!!  It is a gorgeous area and hopefully we can find a lot of wildlife along the way!!

Thursday June 11;

    We left Bartlesville Oklahoma right after lunch, headed south toward Tulsa, then turned west toward Enid Oklahoma.  Very pretty scenery with lots of lakes and ponds and a clear day for traveling.  As we passed through Enid Oklahoma we reminisced about the time we stopped by the Great Salt Plains just about 20 miles north of us and dug huge salt crystals from the lake bed.  Believe it or not the panhandle of Oklahoma has some really fun places to visit.  An original sod home with a museum, a REAL desert called the "Little Sahara" and Alabaster Caverns just to mention a few.  We stopped at Gloss Mountain near Orienta to take pictures, stretch our legs and pick up some pretty stones.  Arrived at Boiling Springs State Park near Woodward just before supper time coming in from the East side of the park.  Didn't realize it at the time but the east road into the park was fairly narrow and had lots of overhanging tree limbs.  If you came in this way with a motor home I think you would have to be careful.  It's probably better to come in from the west as we normally do.  This is a really nice "woodsie" type park with amenities like tent camping, swimming, picnicking and hiking.   We had supper then went into town for some groceries and gas.  On the way out we stopped by the visitors center and had a look at the "Boiling Springs" bubbling up from the ground that made this place so famous back in the cattle drive days.  Plenty of crystal clear water for the livestock.

The Commander

Glass Mountains

Boiling Springs

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Click to see Boiling Springs map.

Glass Mountains

Glass Mountains

Boiling Springs

Click to Enlarge

Click for Salt Plains

 

Glass Mountains

Boiling Springs

 

Friday June 12;

    We took our time getting the RV ready to leave and just enjoyed looking around the park.  Nice place to stay and has lots of wooded acreage.  We got the RV ready and again headed west on Oklahoma highway 412 toward Clayton New Mexico. We saw mile after mile of wind machines between Woodward and Fort Supply, Oklahoma. Fort Supply is an old Army post from the 1880 period that has been restored.  A fun place to visit if you get the time.  We passed by a correctional institution next to Fort Supply and saw inmates all over the yard. I guess it was their time for recreation.  We entered New Mexico and stopped close to the "welcome to New Mexico" sign to eat lunch in the RV.  The time changed as we entered New Mexico.  We saw lots of pronghorns, some with babies; lots of black rocks which we decided must be lava rocks.  As we got close to Capulin Mountain we saw an Air Force B-52 bomber flying really low to the ground and dodging in an out of the mountains.  We took photos of Capulin Mountain then went up Raton Pass toward Trinidad Colorado.  Shortly after we entered Colorado we got our first glimpse of the Sangra de Christo Mountains.  What a spectacular view of that mountain range.  For some crazy reason we decided to get off I-25 and stop at Trinidad.  Dee was driving and Dave was navigating.  At the first intersection we discovered we were on a detour due to construction.  Dee spent the next 15 to 30 minutes driving through one road change after another through narrow streets and sharp turns.  What a relief to be back on I-25.  As we got closer to the sand dunes we got some really great views of Blanca Peak and the Sangre de Christo mountains were even more spectacular.  We set up at the Oasis RV park near the dunes and WHAT a view.  The RV park left a lot to be desired, but the view of the dunes in the evening sun with the Sangre de Chriso's in the background made it all worthwhile.

Boiling Springs

Oklahoma Panhandle

Pronghorn

Raton Pass

Dunes from Oasis RV Park

Boiling Springs

Boise City Ok

Capulin Mountain west of Clayton NM

Click to Enlarge

Capulin Mountain

Blanca Peak from the south side

 

 RV Rentals & Motorhome Rentals

We saw these rental units all over the country.  If you want to know more about renting them click on the image.

 

B-52 dodging hills

Sangre de Christo

The Great Sand Dunes National Park

Click to Enlarge

Sand Dunes map

Saturday June 13; 

It was a cool 68 degrees in the morning.  I went outside at 7:30 AM to take pictures of the dunes with the sun shining on them.  Beautiful !!! I had to put on a jacket and long pants as it was so cool.  We drove to Zapata Falls about 5 miles back south on highway 150 and hiked up to the falls 1/2 mile.  It's a pretty strenuous trek up the trail unless you are in really good condition but there are benches to rest on the way up and the view of the dunes and Sangre de Christo mountains is really spectacular.  You can see quite a lot of the San Luis valley from the head of the trail.  The falls are quite gorgeous with that rushing stream coming down the mountain side.  Took pictures at the falls and then went back to the truck.  We went back to camp and got the RV ready to move out.  We then went to The Great Sand Dunes, but it was so crowded!!  We learned they were having Junior Ranger Day and so many people were there that we decided to look around a little and move on.  We couldn't get anywhere near the dunes.  We took highway 285/17 north toward Poncha Pass and got to see a lot of the valley.  It is really pretty and at one spot they had a significant array of solar generators.  The view of the Sangre de Christo mountains off to our right is really great with all those towering snow covered peaks.  We stopped at one of the pullouts after the summit of Poncha Pass to have our lunch in the RV.  GREAT view!!  We went on to Monarch Mountain and stopped at the Monarch Pass crest.  I bought some gifts in the gift shop for Sam, Geneva, and Barbara.  Also, a cross for me to put on a chain I had at home.  When we left, it had begun to rain and the temperature had dropped to 50 degrees.  We had a real nail biter trip through the gorges at Curecanti Recreation area while Dee was driving.  A huge storm hit with high winds and sheets of rain.  The wind was rocking the RV quite a lot and got so bad that it was pulling water on the surface of the reservoir into the air like a tornado.  We were looking for someplace to pull over and wait the storm out but there weren't any.  Had to slow way down and let the storm do it's thing.  Dee got another "baptism by fire training exercise" in pulling the RV through REALLY bad weather.  We arrived in Montrose and went to the Centennial RV Park just south of Montrose Colorado.  You won't be able to beat this RV park, it even had heated shower floors.  We ate supper late this evening and after we finished, Dave and Deanna went to town to shop, but I stayed in the RV to rest, shower, and wash my hair.

From Oasis RV

From Zapata trail

At the falls

Huggin that good looking babe!!

Zig Zag drive up to Zapata Falls

Solar arrays

The Commander working hard

Some good looking babe at the trail head of Zapata Falls

Zapata trail

See that clump of trees in the middle?

Check out all those people!

The Sangre's

Up to Monarch

See that peak in the middle?

Well there's a WHOLE bunch of people up there!

Toward Poncha

Made it!!

Sunday June 14; 

    Today is Sunday.  I got up at 6:40 AM and made coffee, had my breakfast, then walked around the park for awhile.  I had rested well during the night and the walk did me good, even though it was cold and windy.  The Centennial RV park is really nice and has a great view of mountains that surround the area like the San Juan range.  Click to EnglargeWe drove up north toward Grand Junction to do a tour of the Grand Mesa National Scenic Byway.  If you travel north out of Montrose, turn right at Delta then you can catch highway 65 north that is the Grand Mesa tour.  This turned out to be quite an excursion up the side of a mountain, winding around the forest on top and then dropping to the other side with rock canyons.    Give yourself lots of time, the whole loop will probably take two or three hours but it is really worth the time.  It was quite chilly when we got to the top and there was still snow on the ground.  But,, the visitors center was heated with a wood burning stove and there were two rangers who would tell you all about the area and Grand Mesa.  We stopped several times on the way up to take pictures of the country side.  The scenery was so lovely with snow between the tall pine trees and up on the mountains.  Lakes, streams, canyons, trees, and rocks galore.  After we got home we all agreed that we didn't have any pictures that really expressed the beauty of the Grand Mesa.  We had lunch in Grand Junction at Denny's then went back to Montrose to our camp.

To the west

San Juans from Grand Mesa

Visitors center

Down the north slope

Canyons at the bottom of the north slope

To the south

Grand Mesa visitors center

To the east

Monday June 15; 

    Dave tried to give me the bag of trash to hold in the back seat as we got in the truck this morning.  I said I would give him a thump on the head if he kept that up.  We all laughed about that.  We are having such a good time!  We headed south on highway 550 toward Ridgway and Ouray and stopped in Ridgway to take pictures.  Ridgway is a fun place to just look around and imagine John Wayne, Kim Darby or Robert Duvall running around town during the filming of True Grit.  At Ouray (pronounced U-ray if you don't want the locals giggling at you), Deanna bought a figurine in a gift shop.  We asked about Sam who makes glass ornaments, but he was away on a hunting trip, so we didn't get to watch him blow the glass this time.  We went on to Box Canon Park and walked to the falls.  There were a gazillion chipmunks, ground squirrels and little birds all over the place.  The kids loved it and we secretly did too.  We took lots of pictures and had our lunch in the truck.  If you make it to Ouray be sure and go up the road leading south to Silverton.  There is a turnout where you can look down over the town and get a very picturesque view of the whole valley.  And as an added bonus you get to see people coming down the very steep incline with brakes smelling and sometimes an awful painful expression on their face after dealing with that twisty turning road back from Silverton.  If you ever get the opportunity to take highway 550 south from Ouray to Silverton and Durango be aware that it's one of the most scenic we have ever traveled with lots of mountain vistas, high passes and deep ravines.  It is also a part of the San Juan Skyway Nation Scenic Byways.  Molas Pass (10,910 ft.) between Silverton and Durango is one of the really nice views of the area and when you get to the top there is a great pullout where you can get a good view of the mountain ranges and if you talk a big breath of air in through your nose you can actually smell the pine trees.  But, be aware, that this road is narrow, very twisty and the slopes up and down are quite steep.  This highway has been called the "The Million Dollar" highway because it cost so much to build each mile.  After Ouray we decided to go to see the old "True Grit"** homestead and the ski slopes at Telluride.  On the way, we encountered lots of road work and we were delayed for awhile.  Taking highway 62 out of Ridgway and as you go up Dallas Divide there is a really great view of the Sneffel Mountains.   We found the Last Dollar Road and traveled down it to the old farm where part of the movie "True Grit" was filmed.  The house is really run down, but the barns and fence John Wayne jumped his horse over are still in pretty good shape.  We saw elk while there.  We headed off to Telluride, a fun place to go even in the summer months.  The local leadership is well aware that summer is an off month for them so they provide some really fun free things for tourist to do, like ride the ski gondolas up the mountain and over to Mountain Village.  But you know the whole city and surrounding area has some spectacular views.  We got to Telluride and drove to the east end of town to look at the water falls and that unusual home on the cliff at the edge of the falls.  We spotted a cable running from the valley floor up to the house on the falls and wondered if anyone really uses the cable car to get up there.  We drove back to the main drag and rode the gondola up the mountain to Mountain Village, elevation 10,535 feet.  Mountain Village is an "upscale" shopping and living area for the wealthy.  Rumor has it that Tom Cruise has a place here.  Or maybe Nichole owns it now.  After coming down, we headed home, drove down a country road past our campsite and finally spotted a mule deer.  We haven't seen much wild life yet.

** How to get to the True Grit Homestead - Go west on highway 62 from Ridgway for about 12 miles.  Last dollar road will be on your left. Follow "Last Dollar Road" for about three miles.  As you round a curve to the right you will see the old homestead on your right.  Keep your eye out for wildlife.  There are elk, groundhogs and other wildlife in this area.  Click on the map to get a more readable version.

Toward Ridgway

Ridgway

Box Canyon Falls

Ouray looking south

East end of Telluride

Magpie

Upscale shopping

Ski slopes

Gondola station

Ridgway

Ridgway

Ouray looking north

Box Canyon Falls

Dallas Divide and the Sneffel Mountains

True Grit Homestead

House on the falls

View from gondola

Mountain village

A great view of main street in Montrose

Ouray

Box Canyon Falls

Box Canyon Falls

Waterfall near downtown Ouray

Highway 145 to Telluride

Telluride from a Gondola

Top of the mountain

Traditional tourist photo

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San Juan Skyway Tour 2009

By Jenetta Loggan