Home Button Places Button Theme Park Button Other Stuff Button Video Button Wallpaper Button

2008 West Vacation - Southern Utah and Colorado, Part 9


My 2008 West Vacation. 16 days, 4596.3 miles.
Day 13, Durango, CO to Salida, CO

Day 13. End of day miles: 3272.5. Hotel: Comfort Inn, Salida, CO.

US-550 - September 24

Drove almost the entire length of Durango looking for a Shell. One doesn't seem to exist. Filled up at the Exxon, pump gives me a receipt error, and the clueless lady inside the store can't give me one either. (She finally comes up with a receipt, and it's the wrong one.)

US-550 (also known as the Million Dollar Highway) is one of those beautiful mountain roads and probably one of my top 10 drives. As you get into the peaks, they have some of the tightest switchbacks I've seen on a paved road. As we get into Silverton, there's some color change in the trees.

We get to the old Idarado Mine site, a gold/silver/copper/lead/zinc mine, which operated on and off from the 1910 to 1978, and in 1992 became a 20 million dollar superfund site. There are reportedly 80 miles of tunnels beneath the mountains. The other entrance to the mine is 8 miles away in Pandora on the other side of the mountains.

US-550, Part 1
200809SW_2772P24094 200809SW_2775P24095 200809SW_2776P24100 200809SW_2780P24100 200809SW_2787P24101 200809SW_2790P24101 200809SW_2792P24102 200809SW_2794P24102 200809SW_2795P24103 200809SW_2796P24103 200809SW_2798P24104 200809SW_2799P24104 200809SW_2800P24104 200809SW_2802P24104 200809SW_2806P24105 200809SW_2807P24105 200809SW_2808P24105 200809SW_28092813P24105 200809SW_2817P24110 200809SW_2818P24110 200809SW_2822P24110 200809SW_28232829P24110 200809SW_2830P24111 200809SW_2831P24111 200809SW_2832P24111 200809SW_2833P24111 200809SW_2834P24111 200809SW_2835P24111 200809SW_2836P24111 200809SW_2838P24111 200809SW_2840P24111 200809SW_2841P24111
Back to Top

US-550, Part 2

Ouray, is a very cool small town nestled between a couple of mountain peaks. I should have allocated a little more time in the small towns like Silverton and Ouray. Some day...

US-550, Part 2
200809SW_2843P24112 200809SW_2845P24112 200809SW_2846P24112 200809SW_2848P24112 200809SW_2849P24112 200809SW_2850P24112 200809SW_2852P24112 200809SW_2853P24112 200809SW_2854P24113 200809SW_2855P24113 200809SW_2856P24113 200809SW_2857P24113 200809SW_2859P24113 200809SW_2861P24113 200809SW_2862P24113 200809SW_2864P24113 200809SW_2865P24113 200809SW_2866P24113 200809SW_2867P24113 200809SW_2869P24113
Back to Top

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park - September 24

Black Canyon of the Gunnison
May not look like it, but this canyon is almost a half-mile deep...
Painted Wall, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, CO
We get to Montrose, get a quick meal at McD's, since we're going to eat on the road, and turn right on US-50, toward Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. The Black Canyon is probably one of the most extreme river canyons I've seen, steep, almost vertical canyon walls to the river 2300 feet below. At places, the distance from rim to rim is 1100 feet, but the river at the bottom is 40 feet across, and almost a half-mile deep. Yosemite Valley might be deeper, but it doesn't create the illusion of depth like Black Canyon.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Part 1
200809SW_2870P24125 200809SW_2871P24125 200809SW_2872P24125 200809SW_2873P24130 200809SW_28742879P24131 200809SW_2880P24131 200809SW_2882P24131 200809SW_2883P24132 200809SW_28842888P24133 200809SW_2889P24133 200809SW_2891P24134 200809SW_2892P24134 200809SW_2893P24134 200809SW_28942904P24134 200809SW_2905P24134 200809SW_2906P24134 200809SW_29072911P24135 200809SW_29122920P24140 200809SW_29212923P24140 200809SW_2924P24141 200809SW_2925P24141 200809SW_29262933P24141 200809SW_29352937P24141 200809SW_2938P24141 200809SW_2939P24141
Back to Top

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Part 2

We go down the East Portal Road to the river, and my experience with the tight switchbacks on US-550 is dwarfed by the switchbacks going down to the Gunnison River. At times, I shift down to first, the torque converter whining at the engine revs to 4000rpm to slow me down. There's a moron in a Tahoe behind me tailgating, so I pull off and let him pass.

We get to the bottom by the river, and said moron's brakes are smokin'. Good job! He should learn how to drive his vehicle. He'll probably blame GM for crappy brakes, when the driver's at fault. They never catch fire, though I was ready with the video camera in case his vehicle went up in smoke...

We can get to the diversion dam, but not all the way to the main dam, because there's a snowplow blocking our way. The diversion dam feeds a water tunnel that goes from here to Montrose, under a mountain, and supplies water to the town. Built back in the early 1900's. Amazing.

The ride back up seems shorter, and a small fire we saw off in the distance has grown considerably. It's probably 20 miles away, and we have to get down the road.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Part 2
200809SW_2940P24142 200809SW_2942P24143 200809SW_2943P24143 200809SW_2945P24143 200809SW_2947P24143 200809SW_2948P24144 200809SW_2949P24145 200809SW_2950P24145 200809SW_29512956P24145 200809SW_2957P24145 200809SW_2958P24145 200809SW_2960P24145 200809SW_2961P24145 200809SW_2962P24145 200809SW_29632966P24150 200809SW_2967P24150 200809SW_29682972P24150 200809SW_2973P24150 200809SW_2975P24150 200809SW_2976P24150 200809SW_2977P24150 200809SW_2978D24150 200809SW_2982P24152 200809SW_2986P24152 200809SW_2988P24153
Back to Top

US-50 - September 24

US-50 follows the Gunnison and the Blue Mesa reservoir for miles. Amazed at how big the reservoir is, and it's low too.

After a while, the road starts to climb, and we get to Monarch Pass, 11,300 ft, the continental divide. What goes up, must go down, and the climb we made, turns into 6% grades going down.

We end the day in Salida, CO. Standard Comfort Inn, not bad, not good. The good part is, we used my Choice points, so the room was free.

Hotel 7 of 10, shower 8 of 10, but not enough flow.

Dinner at Amicas. Wood fired Oven Pizza, microbrews. Pizza was excellent. Jo had the Chocolate Peanut butter mousse torte, I had the Chocolate Cannoli. Sugar shock. But good...

200809SW_2989P24154 200809SW_2991P24160 200809SW_2993P24160 200809SW_2994P24160 200809SW_2995P24160 200809SW_2996P24160 200809SW_2997P24161 200809SW_2998P24161 200809SW_3001P24162 200809SW_3002P24164 200809SW_3003P24172 200809SW_3004P24172 200809SW_3006P24172 200809SW_3007P24172 200809SW_3010P24173 200809SW_3011P24173 200809SW_3012P24173 200809SW_3014P24173 200809SW_3016P24173 200809SW_3017P24174 200809SW_3019P24193 200809SW_3020P24193
Back to Top

End 2008 Southwest Vacation - Part 9.

Jump to: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10

  • 02/25/2009 - Initial Deployment
  • 08/15/2013 - Update to v3.11
  • 08/31/2014 - Update to v3.2