Every year since arriving in Colorado, June and I have taken a fall colors trip to explore the beautiful scenery that this State offers. Sometimes we take motorcycles and sometimes we drive. Obviously, since getting rid of our motorcycles, we took the 4Runner.
This year, we decided to head down to the Ouray area. We would base our trip at Arrowhead Mountain Lodge (AML) in Cimarron, Colorado.
We have stayed at AML several times and have always enjoyed our time there. If you are ever looking for a cool place near the Gunnison or Montrose area, look up AML, I do not think you will be disappointed.
On this visit to AML, they really upped their game on food. Every night we were impressed with our dinners.
On to our trip…
We left the house about 10:40 on our way to Arrowhead Mountain Lodge. We stopped a couple of times to enjoy the view. We also stopped to look at trailers as we have been thinking of getting one. The RV place we stopped at did not have anything we liked. June did like one, but it was too big to be towed by the 4Runner.
While on our drive, we needed to stop for a restroom break. We pulled off Hwy 285 near Buena Vista and turned up a dirt road that we have been curious about as we have driven by it numerous times. After about ½ a mile, we found a great little campsite. We decided to make lunch and enjoy the spot for a bit.
After a great lunch of roast beef sandwiches, we continued on our way.
On our way, we pass by the Blue Mesa Reservoir, which is lower that I have ever seen it.
AML is about 5 miles up a dirt road from Hwy 50. The fall colors going up the dirt road were fantastic!
We arrived at AML at about 4:30 having not rushed to get there.
We lounged around the room for a bit while I uploaded some pictures to Lightroom and filtered out the pictures that I did not like. I also edited the pictures I wanted to keep. The internet here is rather slow, so it is taking a while to upload the pictures.
A note about how I am using Lightroom now. I have decided to attempt to be diligent on uploading on my MacBook Pro and going through and deleting the pictures I don’t want. I also will try to keep my galleries clean and organized. I have not always been diligent on organizing or clearing out my photos. I currently have about 40,000 photos on my hard drive with probably only 10% that I will ever refer to again or worth keeping. I do use key-wording quite a bit and that helps with organization.
We enjoyed a great dinner of fish and chips and went to bed really early (8:00pm) as we planned on getting up early because we have a long day tomorrow.
We woke up about 5:30am to catch the sunrise on our way to the trails. We headed out Hwy 50 and found a cool spot to watch the sun come up. I didn’t take any pictures of the sunrise, I just wanted to enjoy it. The sun came up around 7:00am and was worth getting up for.
After the sunrise, we continued on through Montrose and on to Ouray where the fantastic scenery would start.
The plan was to go up Camp Bird Rd to Governor Basin and then we would do Imogene Pass to Telluride.
The fantastic scenery started right away on Camp Bird Rd.
The turnoff for Governor Basin is about 7 or 8 miles up Camp Bird Rd and is an out and back road. The road is easy, but there are some shelf road sections that can be unnerving for those with a fear of heights. Sydney Basin (which is off of Governor Basin) has a very narrow and off camber shelf road section which scared the tar out of me when I did it about a month previous to this trip. I will never do Sydney again…YIKES!
The view from Governor towards Yankee Boy Basin is spectacular
Went to the end of the basin and flew the drone around for a bit to take some altitude photos
We then headed back down. Again, the scenery is fantastic up here.
Now on to Imogene Pass.
I had run Imogene about a month previous to this trip without June. June was a little peeved at me for running it without her, that’s one of the reasons it was on our list of must-do’s for this trip.
Imogene starts with a bit of steep climb to a shelf road overlooking Camp Bird mine. Though not too technical, there are some fun little obstacles in the beginning.
Further up the road, June gets behind the wheel to tackle an obstacle. Pictures never show how steep something is and this was much steeper than it looks. June did great and went right up it.
The same obstacle with me driving (I wanted to drive it as well)
A few more photos heading up to the top.
We made it to the top. The previous time I was here, it was really hazy and not as spectacular as it was today. I’m so glad we decided to come up here. The top of Imogene is at 13,114 ft. The views in all direction are fantastic as you can see. We had the top mostly to ourselves which was not the case the last time I was here. Imogene can be very busy on the weekends, but this was a Thursday and quite empty.
We spent about 45 minutes at the top, soaking in the scenery and then headed down towards Telluride.
The Telluride side of Imogene is very easy, but can be a bit tight near the bottom if a vehicle is coming the other way. We ran into a few vehicles coming the other way, but not as many as if it were a weekend.
There’s a lot of old mining buildings on this side.
Once we got below the tree-line, the colors start to be dramatic again.
Near the bottom, you can look to the left and see the exit of Black Bear Pass
Once we reached Telluride, we decided to take Last Dollar Road back. We had both never been on Last Dollar, but heard there was some good dispersed camping along the road and wanted to recon for future trips.
We only found a couple of good dispersed campsite, but the fall colors were spectacular and well worth the drive.
We did find one possible campsite, but I was more impressed with the colors.
After exiting Last Dollar, we went directly back to the lodge, looking forward to a nice dinner and some drinks.
Back at AML, we enjoyed another fantastic meal and some drinks.
What an epic day!!! Now off to bed, we’re tired after a long day in the 4Runner.
We couldn’t really decide on what to do for day 3, it was between Ohio Pass up to Crested Butte or taking the Forest Service road from AML down to Lake City. We had taken Ohio Pass several times and had never gone on the Forest Service road beyond the lodge, so, the FS road it was.
We slept in, lounged around a bit and got a later start to our day, leaving around 10:30am. We weren’t too sure how to get to Lake City, so I just opened some of the maps on the tablet I run in my 4Runner and headed in the general direction we needed to go. Between Gaia GPS, Backcountry Navigator and Earthmate, we were able to find our way.
The scenery on the drive was, of course, spectacular and we even found a campsite that we will use for next years fall color trip.
Along FS 867…
We often see deer here in Colorado, but sometimes they are still worthy of a photo
When we reached the intersection with FS868, we saw a sign that indicated there was a campground 7 miles to the right or Lake City 7 miles to the left. We decided to check out the campground and boy, were we happy we did. The drive out towards the campground was fantastic (I’ve said that word a lot on this trip).
Driving towards the campground on FS868:
And then, we came upon the campground…what a beautiful spot!!! I was surprised that there was nobody there being that this was fall color season, but we had the entire campground to ourselves. We looked at every campsite and found one that was perfect with an awesome view.
We set up some chairs and went to make lunch only to realize that someone forgot the bread for our sandwiches…not naming names, but the name did not start with a ‘N’ and it wasn’t the male of the group. So, we had roast beef with cheese (we had that in the cooler). We also enjoyed a beer. What a perfect place for lunch!
After relaxing and enjoying roast beef, beer and each other’s company, we headed on out. I marked this place on all 3 of my mapping software apps on my tablet, making sure I would remember it and find it again.
We headed back out FS868 towards Hwy 149. When we reached Hwy 149, we decided to just head back to the lodge.
Couldn’t tell you what time we made it back to the lodge, but of course, we just headed down to the restaurant and enjoyed a few drinks and a wonderful dinner.
Get ready for all of the excitement of day 4…ok, there was no excitement, we just drove back home without taking any pictures and without any drama.
This, like all other fall colors trips was fantastic. Not being on motorcycles was much more relaxing and without production. The 4Runner takes us everywhere we want to go and to some places that we would not go on motorcycles.
The scenery was awesome, of course. This State impresses me at every turn and we are so lucky to live here.
To those of you still reading this…I hope you enjoyed my little blog about our trip. I am not a writer by any means, but want to get better. If you have any tips, I would not be offended and take them as constructive advice. Please do not hesitate to comment.
Thank you for reading, happy trails…