Jeeping Capitol of the World - Ouray, Colorado
At an elevation of 7700 feet and surrounded by 14’ers (Colorado lingo for 14,000 ft mountains), Ouray is a small town devoted to outdoor recreation. Where else can you find a town of this size boasting 8 different Jeep rental businesses, including the local KOA campground! Ouray also has some of the more famous high mountain passes including Black Bear, Imogene, Engineer, and others within easy driving distance of town. Ouray sounded like the perfect place to take my family on vacation! To prepare the Jeep for the trip I ordered a Full Traction 4” lift, Russell braided brake lines, American Racing Atlas wheels, and 33” BFG Mud Terrains tires. I figured that 2 months time would be enough to get the Jeep ready, but the lift was on back order and UPS didn’t drop it off until 2 days before the trip! With the help of a good friend, The Jeep was finished and loaded hours before leaving.
My Jeep was slightly modified, but a stock Jeep can enjoy the trails just as easily with the exceptions of Black Bear Pass and Poughkeepsie Gulch. Rental Jeeps are also not allowed on these trails. Our long trip began in Montana and we were excited to get to Ouray, but we had a wedding to attend first in Boulder, CO. Since Boulder just happens to be minutes from Carnage Canyon, which is a popular trail, my brother and I snuck out for a few hours the day of HIS wedding to try out the new mods done to the Jeep.
|Finally loaded and ready to go|
|Flex test at the top of Carnage Canyon|
|Driving into Ouray, Colorado|
If exploring isn’t the only thing on your agenda, Ouray also has other activities including the Bachelor Syracuse Mine Tour, Box Canyon Falls Park, Ouray Hot Springs Pool (with watersides for the kids), golfing, hiking, fishing, and much more. Our plan for the first day was to drive over Imogene Pass to Telluride, then drive back to Ouray via Ophir Pass. The start of Imogene Pass is on the south edge of town on FR869. GPS coordinates are N-37deg 56.406 W-107deg 48.711.
|Near the top of Imogene Pass|
The Tomboy mine is located 8000 ft above Telluride and is an interesting area to explore, but be careful as the buildings are unstable.
|YJ followed by a Yamaha Rhino on Imogene Pass|
|Above the clouds at the Tomboy Mine|
|Coming down Telluride side of Imogene Pass|
Driving down the Telluride side of Imogene pass, the road is very
narrow and steep but the views are incredible. Along this route,
you get a great view of Black Bear Pass and Bridal Veil Falls.
These 350 ft falls fed the Smuggler-Union hydroelectric plant to
supply electricity to operate the local mines. Because of this
plant, the town of Telluride had electricity before New York City!
After leaving Telluride, we were on to Ophir Pass.
|Taking a break|
|Black Bear Pass & Bridal Veil Falls|
|Ophir Pass on the west side|
|Making the climb up Ophir|
|Million Dollar Highway|
|Coming down the east side of Ophir Pass|
LEVE Note: I hope you enjoyed Steve's article as much as I have. If so, stay tuned for more installments and see a little more of Jeepin' Heaven.