Tuesday, July 1, 2008

San Juan Mountains

Today, June 30, we drove through a section of the San Juan Mountains from Cortez, CO to Montrose, CO. We started the day at 5,300' above sea level. The drive was magnificent, no, make that spectacular, or maybe just plain awesome. The San Juan range forms the southern part of Colorado's Rocky Mountains. Spanning the continental divide, it has numerous jagged volcanic summits, 13 of which rise to over 14,000 feet.

We followed the Dolores River for the first part of the trip and along the way saw lots of beaver dams and lodges but no beavers and unfortunately, no pictures of these structures – Shelley just cannot manage to snap quick enough and she won't let Monte take his hands off of the steering wheel so that he can try his hand at in-motion photography.

After passing over Lizard Head Pass, which is 10,200' above sea level we descended into Telluride which is at 8,750'. This looked like a very nice area and considering that it is not ski season, it was packed with tons of tourists. We could not find a place to park the motorhome and almost did not get turned around as it turns out that Telluride is located in a box canyon and the road dead ends just past the town. Shelley spotted a 'good' turn around spot and Monte went for it since he totally trusts Shelley's judgment. Well, we thought we might have to unhook the car and pray not to get stuck in deep gravel but as it turned out Monte was able to get us out of there with some not so gentle maneuvering. So, no exploration of Telluride was done but the drive through town was enjoyed and just by riding through we could tell that it a very very pricey kind of place.

The 2nd half of the trip after Telluride was not quite as amazing as the first half but still a wonderful scenic drive. We did see a few red rocks during the day – and ignored them.

We are stopped for the night in Montrose and at 6,500' we feel like we are almost back at sea level! Actually, we are finally starting to acclimate to the altitude. Each year that we are out this way it seems to take us a couple of weeks to get where we can walk a block without huffing and puffing and the nausea caused by altitude sickness goes away. We never totally get used to it but we don't care – it is worth it to be in Colorado.
Don't forget to check out additional pictures at http://picasaweb.google.com/scarp54
Tomorrow we try to make it over Monarch Pass and on to Poncha Springs, CO.

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