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An Amazing Wkekend Trip (July 2021)

NOTE: These Passes are only open for a very limited season, generally from May until October depending on the snow. Check the weather before you go.

We took Stoney Pass and headed over to the Silverton / Ouray area. (You could do this in either order.) Stoney Pass is in the San Juan Mountains (the most amazing Mountain Range that calls to my soul) of southwest Colorado, off Hwy 149 between Creede, CO and Lake City, Colorado.

SIDE NOTE:

--A must see North Clear Creek Falls. Just north of the Stoney Pass exit on Hwy 149 towards Lake City. See picture below

--Southern Vittles is a great home cooked restaurant in Lake City.

--Creede, Colorado: They have a cool Main Street with shops and restaurants.

--Silverton, Colorado: Has Fun shops and lots of places to eat as well.

Stony Pass (12,492 ft) a popular off-road vehicle route. (I prefer this route instead of Cinnamon Pass which is a very uncomfortable drive and not as scenic.)

Stony Pass was the original road/trail in 1872 that connected San Juan’s mining operations in Silverton to the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. There are amazing panoramic views of the continental divide and the headwaters of the Rio Grande River. The road was originally developed for pack animals; now it’s a mild 4×4 road. We hit the trail just outside Creede, Colorado near the Rio Grande Reservoir and headed towards Silverton. That is where all those famous trails are like Black Bear Pass, Imogene and more. The views are spectacular, and the trail is rich with mining history. We saw a mountain goat and a Moose, from a distance of course. My son Ben spotted the moose. It was such a great experience to share that with my son. We were up at 12 thousand 500 feet on Stony Pass. In Colorado this is the treeline is at about 11,000 to 12,000 where trees stop growing. Being above the treeline is amazing. The wildflowers are everywhere. It is called the Alpine Tundra. Very delicate ecosystem. Therefore it is so important to stay on the trail. Just stepping off the trail can do damage that will take hundreds of years to repair. This is also where the Continental Divide goes through. The Continental Divide separates the Atlantic and Pacific watersheds, and it is also a very popular trail among hikers.

Then we headed to the Alpine Loop, another trail that is full of mining history and a lot of old mining ghost towns. Then to Engineer Pass one of the most scenic trails in Colorado as well as a Jeep Badge of Honor Trail. It is at an elevation of 12 thousand 800 feet one of the highest roads of Colorado. All these trails have so much history. In the late 1800s, miners started digging for gold, silver, lead, and other ore in the San Juan Mountains. They needed a way to get people and the ore out to the nearby towns. Those roads left by the long-abandoned mines are now some of the most famous off-road trails in the books. Engineer Pass is one of them and is part of a trail now known as the Alpine Loop. There are multiple mine ruins to view and explore. Some are marked clearly, and some are not. Of course, you should never enter structures or disturb the area in any way. A lot of those structures are in shambles. Mile after mile of this trail provides amazing views.

This trail intersects the Jeep Badge of Honor Trail Poughkeepsie Gulch which has a very difficult obstacle called the wall. Which for a lot of people requires to be winched up. At that intersection is the most amazing little camping spot along a creek with two waterfalls. It was awesome to be lulled to sleep by the rushing water and the deer running throughout camp. I hope it was a deer anyways. This camping spot is about 2 miles from the trailhead in the Ouray area. As you head east on Engineer pass the first several miles are rocky up switchbacks. A stock Gladiator made it thru fine on this part of the trail. They rate this trail as a 4 out of 10 in difficulty. A stock Jeep can make it on this trail. You just need to be able to pick good lines. This trail is 20.5 miles long and takes anywhere from 3 to 5 hours depending on the sightseeing you do with the amazing sweeping vistas and waterfalls you could spend all day taking in the spectacular views. Then there is how fast you run the shelf road. I ran this road at .125 mph. LOL!!! SCARIEST TRAIL EVER!! I did it though. I have a video on YouTube. My son was in the back seat with his eyes closed.

This trail goes well above the tree line at 12,900 feet. With that elevation comes stunning views of the mountains to the north. The view is so expansive at the summit, that on a very clear day, you might be able to see all the way to Utah if you turn your eyes to the west. Now to get to that summit that shelf road will test your fortitude. If you know me it tested every fiber of my being. I am deathly afraid of heights. I have a hard time going on a ladder. I knew it would be tough. There was one point where the tears were rolling down my cheeks. I couldn’t even take my white-knuckled hands off the wheel. My right leg was still in pain and my knee was swollen days after. I was uber tense the whole ride of the shelf road. It was definitely worth it. The views alone and the fact I did it and overcame my fear and pushed through. Am I cured of fear of heights NO? But it’s getting easier each time. Plus my son Ben was with me and he saw me pushing through my fear. Once we reached the top and got out to take in the views he hugged me and said he was so proud of me. I was so relieved we made it alive I broke down in sobs. If you aren’t afraid of heights it is something you will never understand. It is an exhilarating trip for drivers of all experience levels. There are many mines and points of historical interest along the route plus if you finish this trail you can get a Jeep Badge of Honor for your Jeep plus knowing you conquered your fears. If you are afraid of heights like me, that shelf road is intense with the drop-offs I swear where at least 5000 feet or more and it is very busy as it’s a popular trail with dirt bikes, ATVs, and side-by-sides. Feel free to reach out to me if you are ever in that area I have great tips!

Plant Mountain Natural landscape Natural environment Land lot
Sky Cloud Tire Vehicle Mountain
Plant Plant community Leaf Natural environment Tree
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Plant Automotive tire Motor vehicle Nature Automotive exterior
Trousers Window Building Plant Wood
Plant Tent Tree Wood Shade
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Nice!!
We did a bunch of those trails in my wife's Jeep back in 2020.
Side note: My wife drove Cinnamon pass at night, she was NOT a fan....

• Poughkeepsie Gulch (badge of honor trail)
• Black Bear Pass (badge of honor trail)
• Imogene Pass (badge of honor trail)
• Engineer Pass (badge of honor trail)
• Ophir Pass (badge of honor trail)
• Corkscrew Gulch
• Mineral Creek
• Yankee Boy Basin
• Governor Basin
• Sidney Basin (90% LOL)
• California Gulch
• Picayne Gulch
• Placer Gulch
• Hurricane Pass
• Cinnamon Pass
• Wager Gulch
• Red Mountain Mining District
• U.S. Basin
• Last Dollar Road
• Alpine Loop











 
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