Ouray Colorado Road Trip the Million Dollar Hwy
Come with me readers as we take a trip through Colorado on Hwy 550 our
own million dollar highway. With my daughter finishing finals and
basically done college until next year the wife and I headed down to
Durango to pick up the big stuff for her so Tuesday she can drive back
without a trailer. So sit back and look as we take you on a tour of "The
Switzerland of Colorado" through pictures and words:
Any of you driving to the June event in Grand Junction, if you are
coming from the southwest you should take in this drive. It is well
As we begin a journey that will see us climb over 11,000 feet in
elevation four time you will notice this is no ordinary road. This is
spectacular and scary all at once time.
As we look back over the first of many many switchbacks we view the Town
of Ouray. This town has a unique property that fits into my Chef2chef
fund raiser plans, but more on that later, for now take a look at this
small mining town.
As we round corners we head into the mountains, The Big Red Mountains
and up over Red Mtn. Pass
The views are breath taking, the weather is great. This hwy was started
in 1880, in 1882 a Russian immigrant named Otto Mears took over the
project and saw it through to completion.
For miles you see mountains topping out well over 12000 feet in
elevation. And the scenery just keeps coming at you.
The waterfalls are flowing full force as the spring melt continues to
erase the snow from the mountain sides and fill thirsty reservoirs in
the lower lands.
Traveling along you also get a real show of what made these areas and
how they settled. They are all mining areas of Colorado. The famous
Yankee Basin with its rich Yankee Girl mines, the structures still stand
in testament to the history that built these roads!
The famous Idarado mine who's cache fed many many families and made her
She moved a lot of ore in her day, crews made wages, mine owners made
fortunes and life was good!
Company housing and office buildings dot the landscape at the roads
edge. Ghostly abandon creations of man, left to the elements as nature
slowly reclaims what is hers!
Of course this is no ordinary highway, no you must go through the
mountain in places (and listen to your wife get perturbed that you are
hanging out the window taking pictures;-))
In other places the mountain is so prone to slides, that avalanche
shelters are part of the road way!
And the water runs constantly for the heights all moving toward the
reservoirs that are the life blood of western living!
At last we see the next town on the list
Silverton, without the road Silverton would be isolated for 6 months of
the year. This is a real small mining town. Usually associated with
recreation now, two mines are opening up here in the late spring. The
cycle of boom and bust will start once again and ride with the price of
Everywhere you are exposed to the mining past of this area of Colorado!
And as we head home the wildlife of Colorado shows itself in spectacular
style that only the winter's end brings
You are forgiven for thinking of your favorite elk recipe. For this is a
culinary site and well we like to eat things! The Bulls have shed their
antlers during this time of the year. But the herd looks healthy!
Last a stop on the way back. One of my favorite things to do is visit
old hotels. Be it the General Palmer in Durango, the Strater in Durango,
The St. Regis we cooked in a few days prior to this blog, any of the
many in Denver and other areas of the state and world! I just like old
hotels. I was thrilled three years ago when the derelict Beaumont Hotel
was finally sold to someone who would restore her to her original
beauty. I had to stop as we passed by and take a look. This will be a
Chefs4Students fund raiser site at some point in the future. I am sure of that!
And her birthday says it all!
She is a beauty and carries main street with elegance!
I hope you have enjoyed hitch hiking along with my wife and I as we
travel through some of the most extraordinary scenery anywhere!
Til we talk again, may you find the cool white wines of spring a breath
Chef Bob Ballantyne
The Cowboy and The Rose Catering
Grand Junction, Colorado