Durango, Silverton and Ouray - Colorado - Wow!

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Flag of United States  , Colorado
Sunday, April 22, 2012

COLORADO  -   DURANGO, SILVERTON & OURAY    April 17th - 22nd

We left Monument Valley & headed to Durango, visiting Mese Verde National Park, which is best known for cliff dwellings.   These are structures built within caves and under outcropping in cliffs — Cliff Palace is thought to be the largest cliff dwelling in North America. The Anasazi inhabited Mesa Verde between AD 600 to 1300. 

The RV park just out of Durango where we stayed,had fantastic views of the  mountains

Well one of the reasons why we came to Durango was because Lance Wolfe our great Texan friend said he wanted to do this amazing steam train trip that starts in Durango and so we decided to try it out and report back ... wow it was truly amazing. This fantastic steam train which normally goes to Silverton, but during the colder months it only goes as far as
Cascade Canyon, due to the snow. Morning tea was served as we slowly traveled past the houses and lush green fields, and then gradually making our way up through the mountains. Our
grandchildren would have loved this trip, the train is just like the Polar Express.   We were high on the canyon walls, looking down at the river far below, and as we circuited the mountains,  we could see the engine, with black smoke billowing, pulling the carriages behind.    When we got to Cascade canyon, we had lunch on the side of the river & chatted to a young couple who had 3 little boys then their little girl. (just reminded us of Shane & Kat & family).  We find everyone is so friendly, and we have been given lots of tips of what to see on our travels, from people we meet.  Before long it was all aboard again for the return trip to Durango. We then walked through the train museum looking at & reading about the history of this town.  

As the train didn't go to Silverton, we decided to drive there,  hoping to also go  on to Ouray, an extra 20 miles, this stretch of road is known as the 'million dollar highway'.   We were blessed with a magnificent sunny day with clear blue skies.  Many bike riders were on the road, training for the yearly event of cyclist  vs steam train, called the Iron Horse Classic Bicycle race.  The  challenge is racing the steam train from Durango over 2 mountain passes , 49 miles in length.   Most of the course, is a strenuous & torturous ascent, before the exhilirating ride downhill into Silverton.  We were disappointed that we were not able to be there to take part, as we feel we are up to the standard now, and I have the sleek mongoose bike with wire basket on the front, & it  would be as good as, if not better than their $10,000+ bikes!  Yep, we were ready to take on the best of them, if only we could have stayed a few extra weeks!!  Move over Cadel Evans!!   

The countryside here is just beautiful, we are now well into Spring.........The dark evergreen pines were a  contrast to the still seemingly lifeless trees, their growth having been suspended due to the harsh winter snow, but now their stark branches being revitalized in the warm sunshine,  and tiny buds bursting forth into new life, thereby creating an overall tinge of lime green.  This is beautifully complimented by the remnants of crisp white snow, draped over the tops of the peaks, so dramatic against the dark background of the mountains, the sun rapidly turning the crystals to a clear waterfall, that cascaded down the precipice, into the river
that meandered along the side of the highway. Ha! Sorry about the waffle, I love to try & string together as many descriptive words as I can!!

We were told  the scenery was even more spectacular from Silverton to Ouray if that could be possible, so we were looking forward to that drive.

Just before Silverton, we turned into a little side road  leading to a frozen lake,  & had morning tea, enjoying the peacefulness. When we went to leave, Mike started the car, and the clutch pedal stayed down.  Not a good sign, but we sprang into action, scouting around for something to make a ramp, so he could check it out, & found it was the clutch slave cylinder leaking!! The photos & video will tell all! Glad in some ways that Mike does have quite a good mechanical brain ... but he was limited with resources to fix this problem onsite.

We decided it was too risky to go on to Ouray, as that is a very steep and narrow road, but were only 5 miles from Silverton, so went on to check for a mechanic. It was Saturday, & most business were shut. It is such a quaint town, & looks as though it is from an old time
western movie.  After looking around, we slowly made our way back to the RV, after topping up with clutch oil and pumping the clutch five and six times just to get gears!.  

As we didn't get to Ouray,  Mike decided we would drive that way with the RV on our way to Moab which could be scary. I am not so sure....

What does one do when in doubt?........GOOGLE  IT!!  Well that wasn't such a good idea, as a lot of the reviews said  'definitely NOT with an RV, others said, 'scary, but go carefully and it will be ok'..... another said definitely ' Not for the faint hearted'!      All night I worried that this was it, we were going down to the depths of a ravine, never to be found again!   

This is the description of this road on the internet:- 

 "This stretch of road through the gorge is challenging and potentially hazardous to drive; it
is characterized by steep cliffs, narrow lanes, and a lack of guardrails; there is a number of hairpin curves, definitely a white knuckle experience".  

It was with some trepidation on my part, we started out the next morning with the cameras ready, and Mike said, if we go over the edge, just keep the cameras rolling! (Typical of his warped sense of humour!)  Most sections, the road is very narrow, with not much shoulder before a sheer drop of about 1000ft or more. I was on the side that looked down deep into the valley, & sitting high in the RV, gives it an even more scarier perspective, there was very little room for error.  Michael drove extremely well, and very slow, 25mph, round the tight hairpin
turns & switchbacks. (I know he was a bit nervous too!).   Fortunately it was a Sunday, so not too much traffic,  we pulled over when we could, to let cars past.  We were thankful not
to meet a semi trailer, as it can be dicey, especially on the corners.  

Anyway, we were not disappointed, the scenery was awesome, just like a mini Switzerland.   
I filmed or took photos the whole way, to take my mind off the hazardous road. 

We arrived in Ouray, another quaint little town, where we stayed in a park along side the river, $10 for the night.  Mike chatted to the local sherriff for about half an hour, who warned him to lock up our bikes, as there were some 'knuckleheads' (to use his terms), who go round stealing things.  I have been getting a lot of headaches  during the past week, & found out that when at high altitude, if a person is not used to it, they need to drink plenty of water. It is called 'altitude sickness', & it can occur when in areas above 8000ft (2,400metres), headaches being one of the symptoms. During the week we had been to areas as high as  11,500ft, which is higher than any mountains in Australia, so after we came back I started drinking heaps of water, &  voila! ....my headaches disappeared.  Yay!  So all was good again, except for the fact Suzi, our little car,  has a clutch not working, so we have to get it fixed in Moab.  

Anyway that's all, Bye for now, thanks for reading the blog, and we LOVE reading your comments, keep safe and well,  God bless....Miss you all.   

 Next blog:  Car repairs in  Moab, the 4WD Mecca of the world..  
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Brenda & Tom on

Nice pictures! Enjoying your blog.

Lionel & Rose on

You have visited some fantastic places, would love to be doing similar ourselves. There is a similar steam train trip that is run from Ottawa in Canada and goes up into the mountains, has live entertainment on board also and then you can watch them turn the engine on a manual turn table ready for the return trip. Great to do in autumn when the trees are in full colour Really enjoying your blog keep safe and keep on truckin Love L&R

mansfields on

hi Mike and Ruth,
Just love this blog!! So entertaining and glorious pictures.
Thanks for your messages via facebook. We are home now and getting back into the daily grind. ho hum
Had a great time away together...want to plan the next trip now!!
Keep up the tales...and the videos....I have more B&D videos to show my piano students now...they love them! tee hee
Lots of love and God bless you
Deb and Sim

Ruth Steele on

Hey Deb, so glad that others apart from our grandchildren enjoy Boofie & Dummar antics!! We feel so stupid sometimes, especially when people are near us, and look at us as if we are stupid, when they hear Mike talking!! It makes it worthwhile if kids & adults are enjoying!! Ha!

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