We spent the weekend exploring the San Juan Mtns and Uncompahgre National Forest with 6 other Landcruiser owners (including one year old twin girls). Most of the group was from Colorado, but there were a couple of long distance travelers – one from Arizona and another from Wyoming. We all met at base camp in Ironton Park (near Ouray) on Friday afternoon and did not waste any time to start exploring a few of the nearby 4×4 trails. Most of the offroad trails in Colorado were created around the 1800s during the mining boom. And they are all packed full of stunning views and traces of Colorado’s mining history.
Day 1: Corkscrew Gulch and “The Super Secret Trail”
Corkscrew Gulch was our first expedition. The beginning of the trail was like entering an alien planet. The trail head winds through the Red Mountains which are rich in minerals, especially iron. The iron rich ground does not have any type of vegetation growing on it; creating a rocky, almost “Mars” like landscape. After passing through the Red Mountains, an afternoon shower set in. Since slippery, muddy roads can make for a dangerous trail ride, we cut short the remainder of the trail and headed to the nearby mining town of Silverton.
After waiting out the rain at the Silverton Brewery, we met up with a local Silverton Landcruiser owner, who offered to lead us on a nearby scenic mountain trail. This “Super Secret Trail” (real name unknown) was one of the easiest trails we encountered, but offered some of the most fantastic views of the weekend. The low hanging “after rain” clouds hung close to trail and provided some spectacular scenery. We also met hundreds (literally) of local free range sheep that surrounded both sides of the trail.
We spent the rest of evening setting up our roof top tent, enjoying grilled blue cheese burgers and sitting around the campfire.