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Day 4 – Mar. 23rd: Hurray for Ouray

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<– Day 3 – Mar. 22nd: Old Bones and Old Jeeps | OVERVIEW | Day 5 – Mar. 24th: Talking Jeeps w/ Worn Rusty Hubbs –>


Here’s our selfie at an overlook just south of Ouray, Colorado. Ann is putting on a brave face for the camera, but she’s very scared in that photo. This overlook hangs over the edge of a steep cliff.

With beautiful blue skies overhead, we started the day in Grand Junction with our sights set on the mysterious Colorado National Monument. Having done no research on it, and trusting Dean’s advice from yesterday, we started at the western entrance of the park near Fruita.


Today we drove from Fruita to Durango.


After the ranger station, the road climbs quickly, switching back and forth, tunneling through rock, and teasing the driver (who should really keep his eyes on the road according to Ann) with beautiful views of the Grand Junction Valley. Those travelers familiar with Southern Utah will instantly recognize the red sandstone walls, the juniper trees, and narrow canyons.


After four miles of driving, we arrived at the visitors center, a complex perched near a canyon wall with a view toward some of the amazing pinnacles that dot the landscape. Inside the visitors center we learned about John Otto, the man that made the Monument happen. His early vision included an amazing road full of switchbacks that would allow cars to traverse the park from one end to the other. Hi dream might not have become a reality had the Depression not happened, for it provided all the cheap labor ($1/day/per person) he need to carve a twenty-three mile road through the park.


After driving the road, it’s my opinion that it is one of the truly unique features of the park. There aren’t many places along the drive that don’t feature beautiful views. It is one continuous bit of eye candy from start to finish.

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We had planned to leave Colorado National Monument and drive to Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP, but we went on several hikes (and we take hikes slowly with Ann’s knee), which used up much of our morning, so we decided to leave Black Canyon for next time. Instead, we headed south toward the Million Dollar Highway. As we drove, we kept our eyes out for jeeps, spotting many. Here are just a few we spotted between Delta and Ouray, Colorado:


This CJ-3B appeared to be at an Ouray Junkyard.

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The drive into Ouray was beautiful. Large white capped peaks tower above the road until it feels like the road is pushing them aside and winding between them.


Once we arrived in Ouray, also known as the Switzerland of America, we quickly found a couple of jeep rental places. If you want to see what the town itself looks like, here are plenty of images.

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Since it was Sunday and many stores were closed, we didn’t stay too long in Ouray, but we could see returning when the weather was warmer. It’s a cute town.

South from Ouray the highway becomes a series of switchbacks carved into the earth. There isn’t much room for error as the highway climbs into the mountains. At one point there is a beautiful overlook that juts out over a waterfall. The walking surface is grated, so for those that don’t like to look down (like my wife) it was nerve racking. But, she bravely posed and NEVER looked down.


After crossing 10,000+ ft Red Mountain Pass, we dropped into Silverton. Even in this tiny town it didn’t take us long to take some jeep related photos:

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We stayed long enough in Silverton for me to buy a “Jeeps are my life” hat, which seems appropriate these days. Driving out of Silverton, we had one more 10,000+ ft pass to cross before we dropped into Durango, where we decided to spend the night.


One last beautiful view of the San Juan Mountains.

Tomorrow we have a long drive from Durango to Taos, before turning south to Santa Fe.

<– Day 3 – Mar. 22nd: Old Bones and Old Jeeps | OVERVIEW | Day 5 – Mar. 24th: Talking Jeeps w/ Worn Rusty Hubbs –>


10 Comments on “Day 4 – Mar. 23rd: Hurray for Ouray

  1. Craig B.

    Glad to hear you made it through there without any delays. The locals tell me that the stretch between Ouray and Silverton is well known for avalanches this time of year with also is why there aren’t too many guardrails along there. Makes for one seat puckering adventure if you haven’t traveled through there much!

  2. Bob

    Looks like lots of Jeep stuff along the way. Love the Blue 3b.

    What does the jeep hat look like?

  3. Mark S.

    The grey jeep with hardtop looks perfect for Colorado winter use. In the second selfie, why is Ann standing with Bruce Willis (when he had hair). Have a safe and fun trip.

  4. mmdeilers Post author

    Mark: Amazing what photoshop will do … lol.

    Bob: Jeep hat?

    Craig: Don’t mention avalanches to Ann or I’ll never be able to drive that road with her! Between her PTSD and fear of heights she was toughing that drive out.

  5. mom

    That is quite the sight with the lake and mountains in the background! You must have been in a frenzy trying to grab that camera. Ann, guess you deserve a medal of some kind to perch yourself out on that ledge… fence or no fence. I will try and think up the appropriate medal.

  6. John

    Ann, you’re a better man than I am Gunga Din.
    I would NOT have walked out on that steel grate overhang.
    Not me.
    If anyone goes to Durango, you should make time to ride the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. It is the most spectacular steam train ride in the world. It follows a steep river valley up into the mountains to Silverton and then back down. The scenery is fabulous and the steam train is the coolest.

  7. mmdeilers Post author


    I thought the museum looked interesting, but the timing was off this trip. We’ll take a more leisurely trip through Colorado in the future and add that to our list.

    – Dave

  8. Steve E.

    Ouray is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been. I can’t wait to go back some day. The colors of the seemingly vertical mountain rocks are fantastic, although now covered in snow. I hope this is a memorable place for you and Ann. Tell her to look up and not down. The beauty is up there!

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