When planning your next adventure consider Colorado, or Crawlorado as I like to call it, there is a plethora of views to take in and places to explore.
The area around Ouray is filled with so much beauty and countless places to adventure and see. There is a rich mining history in the area and some fun trails to go on and see old mines, take a step way back in time all within a 10-mile radius. This can be a weekend trip or you can make a longer trip out of it as there are so many driving and hiking trails in this small area. There is something for every rig (4wd of course) around Ouray/Silverton. Most of the trails are well traveled ones, due to OHV tours in the area. Keep this in mind if you venture down the beaten path and explore the area, some of these trails will make you hold your breath at times but pay attention and you’ll be just fine. There are 40+ different trails in the area and most of them are maintained, keep in mind that these aren’t open year-round though. Make sure you check here and see what is open while planning your adventure. Now, let’s look at some of the favorites in the area.
Black Bear Pass:
Remember, tour companies take tourists out on this trail all the time. But it has a killer reputation, literally. Now parts of this get a little scary and reckless driving will get you hurt no matter where you do it. We happen to think that being a little scared is half the fun; but would still recommend being an experienced 4x4er when tackling Black Bear. This pass has some amazing views though, it will definitely be worth that white knuckle grip. There are a couple waterfalls, such as Bridal Veil Falls, and always a lot of green to see.
The house at the top of the waterfall is a privately-owned historic power plant, I bet it has some amazing views though. This trail is a two way for part of it, keep that in mind when you are driving; when it turns into a one way there are signs so be on the lookout. I can tell you that backing up a half mile of trail is NOT that fun, and I can’t imagine it would be fun on the steps at black bear. The steps are the scary part of this trail, they take you down into Telluride, CO. If you want to see the steps check out my favorite video of this group going down, you won't be disappointed.
This one you travel for the scenery it is hard to beat getting all of this in one view, throw in the fact that you took your adventure machine up there and it just might be the definition of perfect. The red color comes from Iron ore being oxidized. Along this trail there are also some pristine lakes, that depending on the time of year might make you want to cool off in one. This is a very popular trail so watch out for others.
This is another popular trail in the are and well-traveled. It takes you from Telluride to Ouray, or Ouray to Telluride. You could always hop on it after you brave Black Bear. Part of its appeal is that it’s the second highest drivable pass in Colorado, the views aren’t too bad either.
There are many waterfalls along this trail as well, sans historic mansion house. But there is an abandoned lakeside cabin that is worth a peak. Now, for my history fanatics or people that just like to see old stuff. There is the abandoned Tomboy Mining Camp you can go to, but Ghost Town makes it sound much more fun. For where and when this town was it was larger than usual. It even boasted amenities such as a school, stables, dining hall, store, cabins and even a YMCA. (you can read more about it here)
If you like Tomboy you’ll really like Picayune and Yankee Boy. I won’t bore you with too much history don’t worry.
This trail goes from Picayune Gulch to Treasure Mountain Mine to Sound Democrat Mill (there is quite a bit to explore on this one). On this trail you’ll find one of the most complete stamp mills remaining in Colorado. As with most abandoned areas stuff starts to go missing, or when things were sold owners took everything out. (Remember, we are able to enjoy places like these because we take care of them, please remember to respect these beautiful areas and BE CAREFUL). The Treasure Mountain Mine you’ll come across is in fairly good condition, given the age, with some buildings still standing. It was named Treasure Mountain because some prospectors came up from Kansas, see it isn’t just our trailers that make it to Colorado from Kansas. They were having bad luck trying to strike it rich with gold, until treasure mountain. Now, the Sound Democrat Mill is the one that is the most complete remaining in Colorado. You can read about it here, then go and explore all the rich history of the area.
Yankee Boy Basin:
This is another one of those popular trails; but you don’t need to watch out for just people, heavy rain can wash this road out. There are fields of wildflowers too see as well as, of course, another mine. Yankee Boy Basin has the famous shelf road, this is cut back into the rock and makes for an interesting photo.
You’ll pass by the Revenue mill and shortly after the Atlas Mill, where you can hike to the mine. There are no structures left at the actual mine, but there is equipment still siting at the mouth. Here is what the Atlas Mill looked like back in the late 1800s, something to compare to when you set out on your next adventure.
Check out our trip to the area!