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Alpine Loop, Ophir Pass & Last Dollar Road

Saturday & Sunday, July 2-3, 2011

Amanda had to work on the Fourth of July Weekend so I was on my own to find something to do. It was getting pretty hot in the desert, so I decided to take a break from searching for rock art and head up into the mountains. There weren’t too many roads open yet because of the snow still up in the high country, but there were enough to keep me occupied for the weekend. I decided to head south to the San Juan Mountains and take my time exploring the Alpine Loop. After passing through Ouray I followed the Uncompahgre River and Mineral Creek up to Engineer Pass.

A small waterfall along the Mineral Creek Road.

Small Falls by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Looking over my Jeep into Poughkeepsie Gulch.

Jeep Over Poughkeepsie Gulch by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Along Mineral Creek just past Mineral Point. It was perfect weather to open the top on my Jeep.

Mineral Creek by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A view of Darley Mountain near Engineer Pass.

Darley Mountain by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Still plenty of snow below Engineer Pass.

Snow B&W by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A view down Palmetto Gulch on the other side of Engineer Pass.

Flowing Water by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

If it weren’t for these, many of the roads I drove this weekend still wouldn’t be open…

Keeping the San Juans Open by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

I stopped and hiked down to Whitmore Falls. Luckily there were a few minutes when the sun went behind some clouds so I could get a little bit of a longer exposure.

Whitmore Falls by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

I followed the North Fork of Henson Creek as far as I could go…this washout stopped my progress.

Washout by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Eventually I reached Lake City and topped off my fuel tank before heading past Lake San Cristobal towards Cinnamon Pass. On the way to Cinnamon Pass I took a side trip up Wager Gulch to the ghost town of Carson.

Carson by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

I continued on past Carson to the Continental Divide and explored a few of the roads up there that were above 13,000 feet.

Above 13,000 by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Rolling Tundra by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

On my way back down from the divide, I spotted my very first moose in the wild. It was pretty far away and getting dark out, so this is the best handheld shot I could get.

Moose by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

I ended up making camp near Carson and then watched the sun go down behind the mountains. Here, the last rays of the sun light up a few small clouds in the sky above the Continental Divide.

Sunlit Clouds by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

On Sunday morning I continued on towards Cinnamon Pass, but made another short detour along Cottonwood Creek.

Cottonwood Creek by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Plenty of snow around on the way up to Cinnamon Pass, too.

To Cinnamon Pass by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

On my way down to Animas Forks from Cinnamon Pass.

Animas Forks by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Of course, I had to stop and visit the old Duncan Residence since I was here.

Duncan Residence by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

View out the window of the old Duncan Residence.

Out the Window by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

From Animas Forks it was a short drive to Silverton. From there I headed over Ophir Pass towards Telluride. Here’s a view into Paradise Basin on my way up to Ophir Pass.

Paradise Basin by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

The road down from Ophir Pass.

Road to Ophir by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

View from Ophir by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

From Ophir I took the Last Dollar Road back to Highway 62 which brought me back to Ridgway, where I had started the day before. I was originally planning on camping another night and coming home on Monday, but I decided to surprise Amanda and come home a day early instead.

>> Alpine Loop, Ophir Pass & Last Dollar Road Photo Gallery

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