| Depart From: ||Today we depart after breakfast traveling South to Cortez aling the Unaweep Tabeguache and the San Juan Skway Scenic Byways.|
| Breakfast: ||Full breakfast at the Inn|
| Morning: ||Zebulon Miracle will be a step on guide from Grand Junction to Cortez. Mr. Miracle is a Grand Junction native and has been Curator of the Museum of the West for over ten years. He has degrees from the University of Colorado in history and anthropology. He recently helped restore uranium mining sites and a 48 foot section of the Hanging Flume. He is well versed in the history, geology, culture, flora and fauna of this incredible Byway.
Along the route we will learn about the diverse geology from beginning to end. Unaweep is a native word that roughly translates to mean “canyon with two mouths”. Unaweep is a geologically unique canyon that cuts across the Uncompahgre Plateau in western Colorado. It is unique because two creeks, East Creek (which flows into the Gunnison River) and West Creek (flows to the Dolores River), flow out of opposite ends of the canyon, separated by the almost imperceptible Unaweep Divide at an elevation 7,000 feet. Precambrian rock forms the canyon walls; aspen and pine forests dominate the vegetation.
Also along the route we learn about the ancestral Puebloans built structures and occupied the area between 750 and 1000 A.D. Archaeological digs have revealed fifteen feet deep, centuries-old middens containing projectile points, stone tools, bone awls and bones from game animals. In addition we will spot an interesting landmark. In 1914, a wealthy New Yorker had a home built of local stone and known as the Driggs Mansion. The home is in a meadow below Thimble Rock. Unfortunately, Mrs. Driggs was less enchanted with the dwelling and its location and it was abandoned after a few years. The majority of this scenic byway travels through the Unaweep Seep that is a 55 acre Area of Critical Environmental Concern because of its a unique wetland ecosystem that is home to the rare and beautiful Nokomis Fritillary butterfly.
| Morning: ||We arrive in Gateway, a tiny community where the geology changes dramatically from the Precambrian to the multicolored sedimentary formations of Dakota, Wingate, Kayenta, Entrada sandstone. The name of the community reflects that this is the Gateway to the geologic changes. The Owner of Discovery Channel has developed a large resort and auto museum in this very remote part of Colorado. Participants will visit the Auto Museum, which houses one of the finest collections of American automobiles in existence today. With just over forty vehicles in the privately owned Hendricks Collection, the Gateway Colorado Automobile Museum tells a story of how the automobile impacted society. It is an educational experience with historical perspective. Mining has been an important factor along the route. In the late 1800’s, high above the Dolores River, courageous men built the “Hanging Flume”. Water from the River was carried by the flume to be used for hydraulic mining of placer gold. This engineering marvel has been the recipient of many engineering awards. In 2012, a 48 foot section of the flume was repaired and/or reconstructed. Those working on it, with modern equipment, are even more baffled by the engineering feat accomplished by the original builders. The real mining story, however, is in the radium, vanadium and uranium found in the area. Radium from here was shipped to Madame Curie for her experiments in France; in the 1930s and through WWII vanadium was shipped from this area to be used in hardening of steel; and 60% of the uranium used during the Manhattan Project of WWII came from the Uncompahgre Plateau. Remnants of the uranium boom of the 1950s still remain along the route, and uranium exploration is once again drawing interest.
Markers along the way point out that the Dominguez-Escalante Spanish Expedition who traveled through area in 1776 providing extensive written diaries about the area and giving place names that exist today.|
| Lunch: ||Chuckwagon Lunch in Naturita|
| Afternoon: ||After lunch we travel along the San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway. This Byway is often described as the Crown Jewel in the state byway system. The landscape ranges from limitless alpine forests and pristine mountains to fertile valleys and ancient apartment complexes. It is as old as the most famous mining camps and as modern as the latest condominium development. The Byway skirts the edge of the famed Telluride ski area. Nestled in a bowl of mountains, Telluride was one of the most prolific gold and silver mining communities in early Colorado. The Byway provides views of the incredibly beautiful San Miguel Range including several peaks over 14,000 feet in elevation. The Ames Hydroelectric Generating Plant, located near Ophir was the world's first commercial system to produce and transmit alternating current (AC) electricity. In the summer of 1890, Westinghouse Electric supplied the station's generator and motor. They were installed in the winter, and from spring 1891 provided alternating current electricity that was transmitted 2.6 miles to a motor-driven stamp mill at the Gold King Mine that was at risk of shutdown from lack of timber fuel for its existing steam mill. The Byway crosses Lizard Head Pass at 10,222 feet above sea level just below the unique Lizard Head Mountain (13,113 feet). The road follows the Dolores River passing through several small mining and agricultural communities. As we descend into Cortez, the byway leaves the Precambrian formations and once again enters the Wingate, Entrada and Kayenta sandstone formations. Vegetation becomes sage-desert scrub. Agricultural interests dominate the valley floor and Mesa Verde looms above.
| Dinner: ||Participants will be on own for dinner. Main Street in Cortez has several small, family owned eateries where participants can mingle and get acquainted with the locals.|
| Evening: ||We visit the Cortez Cultural Center for an evening performance. Native American presentations differ nightly. Performers might be dancers, flute maker/player, sand painter, story teller, or the like|