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The San Juan Skyway

Montrose Near Ridgway Colorado

Montrose Near Ridgway Colorado

When planning a trip to the wonderful town of Ridgway along the San Juan Skyway, tucked into the Uncompahgre Valley, people planning outdoor adventure in Colorado’s mountains, in any season, also should consider a short trip to Montrose.

Fishing in the San Juans

Fishing in the San Juans

Creeks and streams that offer an abundance of Rainbow, Brown and Brook Trout plus an abundance of spectacular scenery are within easy drives of towns along the San Juan Skyway. Likewise places to find Native Colorado River Cutthroat. For novices as well as accomplished fly anglers, it just takes a bit of work to find them.

Crested Butte – Gunnison Valley

Crested Butte – Gunnison Valley

Like many other towns and communities in Colorado’s southwestern mountain regions, Crested Butte is a former mining town turned ski resort. Founded in 1878, Crested Butte was a coal-mining rather than a gold mining town.

Guide to the Four Corners Area at the Southwest Quadrant of Colorado

Guide to the Four Corners Area at the Southwest Quadrant of Colorado

Southwestern Colorado and adjoining states offer visitors one of the world’s most fascinating historical and archeological journeys. A thousand years ago, this region was the center of an incredibly complex and influential civilization that flourished over several centuries throughout the entire Southwest.

Bald Eagles are a ‘Regal’ compliment to the San Juan Skyway

Bald Eagles are a ‘Regal’ compliment to the San Juan Skyway

The majestic emblem bird of the United States was almost extinct by the 1970s as a result of hunting and agricultural pesticides. In recent years, in Colorado and the San Juans America’s national symbol has been brought back from the brink of extinction.

Black Bears are the only type of bear found along the San Juan Skyway

Black Bears are the only type of bear found along the San Juan Skyway

Wildlife viewing in Colorado and its San Juan Mountains is easy. Ridgway State Park, Mancos State Park, the San Juan National Forest and other parks are within easy reach from the San Juan Skyway. Ridgway State Park, for example, has Elk, mule deer, bobcat, mountain lion, coyote, yellow-bellied marmot, red fox, cottontail rabbit,…

The Saga of Orvis Hot Springs

The Saga of Orvis Hot Springs

The Ouray and Ridgway areas have many hot springs that have attracted the bone-weary for centuries. Hot springs that have bubbled up along the Uncompahgre River and from underground fissures for thousands of years range in temperature from 80 to 150 degrees.

Otto Mears – “Pathfinder of the San Juans”

Otto Mears – “Pathfinder of the San Juans”

To say that Otto Mears led a complex life is an understatement. To try to even summarize the accomplishments of his lifetime is difficult. The “I can” man born in 1840 seemed to be able to do anything he decided to do in the Saguache and San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado.

Teddy Roosevelt in Colorado and the San Juan’s

Teddy Roosevelt in Colorado and the San Juan’s

There’s a great deal that most people, including history buffs, don’t know about Teddy Roosevelt’s connections to and experiences in Colorado, and about the remarkable President himself. Roosevelt became the 28th President of the United States in September 1901 after the assassination of President William McKinley.

Bighorn Sheep of the San Juan Mountains

Bighorn Sheep of the San Juan Mountains

Historically bighorn sheep were once among the most abundant wildlife in the American West. From millions of these marvelous creatures at the onset of the 19th century, bighorn populations declined with westward expansion of human populations, the introduction of domestic sheep and to a lesser extent hunting.

Festivals in the San Juan Skyway

Festivals in the San Juan Skyway

While in Colorado visitors should not miss traveling on and around the scenic 232-mile San Juan Skyway. This breathtaking loop through the San Juan Mountains is designated as an All-American Road, a National Forest Scenic Byway and a Colorado Scenic & Historic Byway.

Moose in the Colorado and the San Juans

Moose in the Colorado and the San Juans

Moose in Colorado mostly are not just visiting or there by accident. Until 20 years ago Moose were very scarce in Colorado. Colorado Parks and Wildlife decided that Colorado should have a moose population, even a large one, and not rely on a few stray moose wandering into the state from Wyoming.

The Galloping Goose Story

The Galloping Goose Story

The “Galloping Goose” (misnomer – should be “Geese”) initially was spawned (1890-91) from the ups and downs of the Rio Grande Southern Railroad (RGS also referred to as “The Southern”). Conceived and built by the amazing “Pathfinder of the San Juans,” Otto Mears,…

Butch Cassidy in the San Juans

Butch Cassidy in the San Juans

Most people remember Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid as a Western film in the late 1960s starring Paul Newman (Butch Cassidy) and Robert Redford (Sundance Kid). Based very loosely on fact, the film tells the story of Wild West outlaws Robert LeRoy Parker (Butch Cassidy) and his partner (Sundance Kid)…

Chipeta – “Queen of the Utes”

Chipeta – “Queen of the Utes”

Indians discovered an abandoned Apache camp where apparently a massacre had occurred. The one survivor, a two-year old girl, was adopted into the Ute tribe. They named her Chipeta. Of course no Ute could imagine that this child would grow up to become the wife of Chief Ouray and a renown Ute peacemaker.

Mountain Goats of the San Juan Skyway

Mountain Goats of the San Juan Skyway

Newcomers to Colorado, mountain goats have only been in Colorado’s alpine terrain since 1947 when about 5 dozen goats were introduced as game animals to several locations by the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

Chipeta Solar Springs Resort and Spa – An Escape to the Rockies

Chipeta Solar Springs Resort and Spa – An Escape to the Rockies

Owners Jack Young, originally from North Dakota, and Patsy Young, originally from Florida, have deep roots in Colorado, the San Juans and Ridgway. Jack has designed and built numerous commercial projects in Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, and Fiji but Ridgway has become his main base.

Grand Imperial Hotel. Silverton’s Wild West Hotel

Grand Imperial Hotel. Silverton’s Wild West Hotel

Durango, Colorado, was founded by the Denver & Rio Grande Railway (D&RGR) in 1879. The railroad arrived in Durango on August 5, 1881 and construction on the line to Silverton began in the fall of the same year.

Beaumont Hotel Saga

Beaumont Hotel Saga

In the early 1880s The Beaumont Hotel was conceived by five Ouray residents (D. C. Hartwell, William Weston, John M. Jardine, Hubbard Reed, and Thomas Gibson) who formed the Ouray Real Estate and Building Association.

The Strater Hotel – Durango’s Iconic Landmark

The Strater Hotel – Durango’s Iconic Landmark

The history of the Strater Hotel and Durango are totally intertwined. From its inception, the Strater Hotel became a beautiful landmark in downtown Durango destined to become a member of Historic Hotels of America.

Exploring the Region of Dolores is a dance between Beauty and History

Exploring the Region of Dolores is a dance between Beauty and History

Your journey through the San Juan Skyway (SJS) can begin at any one of its historic towns, traverse its eons of geologic history, follow ancient Indian trails and pack trails created by early pioneers and gold seekers transformed into modern roadways, trace the remarkable visions of 19th-century railroad builders, skirt stunning 14,000-foot peaks or visit world-class ski resorts.

The Evolution of Telluride into a Ski Resort Superstar

The Evolution of Telluride into a Ski Resort Superstar

The Telluride region, its prehistoric setting for nomadic tribes over many centuries, ancient mining industry and unique lure for vacationers and residents were shaped over millions of years by its geology and changes in the global climate.

Durango’s Wild Years

Durango’s Wild Years

Other than Ute indian tribes, the first settlers in the San Juan Mountains were prospectors that came looking for gold in the early 1860s. The area that is today’s Silverton originally had the ore. The area that is today’s Durango (and its predecessor settlement of Animas City) furnished shipping and processing.

“Fourteeners” in the San Juan Mountains

“Fourteeners” in the San Juan Mountains

Exploring the San Juan Mountains literally can provide a lifetime of fun, adventure and challenges on foot, in four-wheelers or on bikes. Many of today’s hiking and jeep trails were wagon and pack trails to long ago abandoned mines.

What is the San Juan Skyway

What is the San Juan Skyway

The 236-mile loop of the San Juan Skyway offers one of the most scenic drives in North America. Winding through forests of aspen and pine and over breathtaking high passes, again and again the drive reveals panoramic views of volcanic Rocky Mountain summits in the San Juan range…

Ridgway – Gateway to the San Juans

Ridgway – Gateway to the San Juans

Nestled in picturesque Uncompaghre Valley, in southwestern Colorado, Ridgway is surrounded by the majestic snow-capped peaks of the Cimarron and San Juan mountains.

The Town of Ouray

The Town of Ouray

Building wagon and toll roads in the 1880s by Mears and the people of Silverton and Ouray is a fascinating and inspiring story leading up to the Million Dollar Highway. From the outset, everyone involved envisioned…

Telluride – It’s not just for Skiing anymore!

Telluride – It’s not just for Skiing anymore!

The Town of TellurideTelluride (8,745 ft.) is tucked into a box canyon surrounded by 13,000- and 14,000-foot peaks and surrounded by steep valley walls. Above and beyond Telluride are networks of jeep roads and miles upon miles of hiking trails that crisscross the mountains.

The Town of Silverton

The Town of Silverton

Set (9,318-ft.) in a high mountain valley, Silverton is a well-preserved mining town surrounded by 13,000-ft. peaks. Built mainly between 1882 and 1910, the town is a national historic landmark.

Durango – Beauty, Adventure and Culture

Durango – Beauty, Adventure and Culture

Although there’s no scientific research to prove it, no one has ever been bored in Durango. The things to do in each season match anything that any visitors from anywhere are looking for in a vacation experience

The Million Dollar Highway

The Million Dollar Highway

The road did not cost more than a million dollars to build, but it did cost a huge sum for its time. It may contain some waste from early gold mills and silver mines, but nowhere near a million dollars worth. There’s also some mystery and dispute about the length of the Million Dollar Highway.

Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park

Visitors from around the world flock to see the famous cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde National Park, the amazing stone cities at Chaco Canyon and hundreds of other Anasazi sites scattered throughout the Four Corners area.

Railroads of the San Juan Skyway

Railroads of the San Juan Skyway

As new mining claims were discovered in the 1870s and the population of the San Juans mushroomed, so did the need for an economical, year-round transportation system. Most of the ore from mines discovered was not yet shipped out by the mid-1870s.

Geology, Ecology & Climate Change in the San Juans

Geology, Ecology & Climate Change in the San Juans

Covering about 12,000 square miles, the greater part of Southwestern Colorado and its San Juan Mountains are full of high mountains: 14 peaks exceed 14,000 feet and nearly all the area is above 6,000 feet.

Wildflowers of the San Juan Skyway

Wildflowers of the San Juan Skyway

When spring and summer arrive in the San Juan Mountains, wildflower hunting reveals wave after wave of floral beauty. In the high country, wildflowers peak between mid-July and mid-August. For example, a spectacular display of wildflowers is in full bloom in American Basin by mid-July. Bluebells growing in large clumps seem to like American Basin and also Animus Forks.

Birdwatching in the Ridgway Region

Birdwatching in the Ridgway Region

The state of Colorado attracts more species of birds than any other state in the interior of the U.S. More than 500 species of birds have been recorded in Colorado. Colorado also provides natural habitats for 285 breeding bird species.

Ouray & The Beaumont Hotel & Spa

Ouray & The Beaumont Hotel & Spa

Less than 10 years after the town of Ouray was founded in the heart of the rugged San Juan Mountains, it was being acclaimed as “the prettiest town in Colorado.”

Telluride and The Peaks Resort and Spa

Telluride and The Peaks Resort and Spa

Telluride is an extraordinary mountain town. The more people learn about its assets and creativity, especially in these challenging times, the more it seems to offer much more than simply astonishing natural beauty.

Ridgway To Ouray

Ridgway To Ouray

The ultra-scenic San Juan Skyway travels in a 236-mile loop created by US 550 and 160 and State Routes 145 and 62. Although you can begin this marvelous journey at any one of several places, traveling clockwise from Ridgway…

Ouray to Durango

Ouray to Durango

Heading south on Hwy 550 from Ridgway to Ouray, the panorama is full of summits and jagged ridges of the Uncompahgre Wilderness. The very pretty Victorian mountain town of Ouray, tucked beneath a dramatic granite amphitheater…

Durango to Cortez

Durango to Cortez

Leaving Durango, Fort Lewis College sits on a bluff above the town. The college has unique origins, history and mission that visitors to the area should know about. In 1891, Fort Lewis was decommissioned and converted into a federal, off-reservation boarding school.

Cortez to Telluride

Cortez to Telluride

From Cortez the Skyway follows Hwy 145 for about 12 miles to Dolores. Dolores was a major railroad town along the Rio Grande Southern route between Durango and Ridgway. Today visitors can tour an exact replica of the original train depot on Railroad Avenue, now the Rio Grande Southern Museum.

Telluride to Ridgway

Telluride to Ridgway

The San Miguel River rises in the San Juan Mountains southeast of Telluride and flows along the southern slope of the Uncompahgre Plateau past the town of Placerville where it joins the Dolores River.