Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Fall in the Rockies

Our Autumn tour of Colorado continuing...
on Monday Sept 21 we are located at the Prospector Campground,
one of many National Forest Campgrounds scattered around the shore of Lake Dillon.

A view of Lake Dillon

Morning outside

While here we planned a day trip into Denver (about 70 mi each way)
We took the more scenic route over Loveland Pass on old US6
Loveland Pass

Our trip into Denver was made to fetch some bottles out of the wine storage.

It's always a bit of memory lane to come here.   
In the 80's  I worked for a glass company that was located
just a few blocks down from here.

A few of the bottles.

Wine onboard, we began our journey back to Dillon.
We were shanghaied on Federal Blvd  when the sign below caught my eye.
Being lunchtime we hit the brakes!
Grandpa's was worth the stop.

We went in search of some Breckenridge color on Boreas Pass Rd.
Mid-week, the road was so crowded that we lost interest and turned around
in search of more secluded locations.

Boreas Pass Rd

On Thursday the 24th we were now headed to the Gunnison area.
Over Fremont pass - a gentle pass and alternative to Hoosier Pass to the east.

Fremont Pass

Into Leadville where the headwaters of the Arkansas River
begin their long journey to the Mississippi.

At Buena Vista we head west on County Rd 306 towards Cottonwood Pass.
Now, freshly paved on both sides, it is the highest paved crossing 
of the Continental Divide in the US.
Cottonwood Pass Rd east side

Until last year - the west side was unpaved.
A 2 year project paved both sides as well as upgrade and straighten the road.
Approaching the top at 12,119

At the top you get a magnificent view of Taylor Park, thousands of feet
below on the west side of the pass.
You now descend westbound and the road becomes county road 209

Unfortunately my photo is a bit blurry.

Both sides have numerous switchbacks and grades in excess of 10%

Finally down into Taylor Park, we pass by the reservoir
and turn south east on county road 742.

We continue our descent down Taylor River Canyon.
There are almost a dozen NF Campgrounds along this stretch of road.
County Rd 742 Taylor River Canyon

We pick up US 50 at Gunnison.
US 50/Monarch Pass would be the more sane alternative to Cottonwood Pass.

Heading west about 12 past Gunnison we arrive at our home for the next 5 nights.
Elk Creek Campground in the Curecanti National Recreation Area.
Elk Creek Campground

Our view at Elk Creek

I did a bit of research and found what I thought would be a good day trip in search
of some fall color in the Aspen Groves.

Forest Road 724 turned out to be one heck of a nice day!

Vibrant colors against the deep blue sky.

I love the Aspen Groves on a sunny fall day.

We found a great boondocking spot with a killer view.
Just not for a PartyBus.
A smaller trailer, or motor vehicle would work fine.

An orange Apen Grove

Another boondocking spot.

But down a skinny road...
Which is not PB friendly.

Soon it was time to head back down into the valley 2,500' below.

On Tuesday the 29th we headed southwest towards the San Juan Mountains of
southwestern Colorado.
Passing Ridgeway State Park, the reservoir was dry where we could see it.

We arrived at the Priest Gulch Campground on CO 145 south of Rico.
2 nights with FHU allowed us to do some laundry etc.

Its a nice place along the Delores River.
I booked last minute so I did not have one of those sites on the water but we still enjoyed our stay.

Colors in this part of the state were just amazing, so we took a drive back up towards
Telluride to take it in without the PB.

The yellow brick road

Looking up the valley towards Telluride

CO 145 between Rico and Telluride

NW of telluride is the Woods Lake NF Campground.

A beautiful spot to spend a delightful fall day!

While we were there it turned out that of all things....
They were using a helicopter to film footage for a Disney Park Ride.
Down the helicopter would swoop, pulling up just before the water, and rising up
the mountain slope beyond, barely above tree top level.

While intersting to watch - it did detract from what would have been beautiful
(and peaceful) surroundings.

Onward we roamed...  in search of the Yellow Brick Road

After a day filled with oh's and ah's - we headed back past Telluride

Thursday October 1st.
At first light, about 0630, we were wheels up headed to Flagstaff, Az.
About a 5 hr drive, we wanted to get to the Bonito Campground while we knew there would
be some decent sites still available.

Leaving the mountains and forests behind, we head across some sagebrush country.
US160 near 4 corners

Eventually to the red cliffs south of Monument Valley

And a slice of the Painted Desert

Soon we are climbing into the pines at the foot of the San Francisco Peaks
near Flagstaff.    Our home for the next ??days.
Now that we are less than a days drive from the barn - how long will I be able
to keep Kate from being drawn la casa?

A herd of Antelope graze at the campground in the am.

Well the how many days will we stay in Flagstaff question has been answered....
3 nights.

Thurs - Sat nights were spent at Bonito and Sunday morning with the sun, we headed south
to The Old Pueblo and I finish this post from home.

Here is a map of the past 2 months.

Time to start planning.....