Walking about 1 mile throughout the day; standing for approximately 1 hour total; gravel or paved sidewalks/paths with some stairs. Getting on/ off motorcoach and 4-wheel-drive vehicles; driving approximately 30 miles total; about 1 hour in afternoon, with stops. 4WD ride is approximately 20 miles; about 3 hours. Elevations up to 12,526 feet.
We’ll walk to a local restaurant and order plated meals from a select menu, with juice, coffee, tea, water included.
Ouray is sometimes called the Switzerland of America for its alpine landscape surrounded by mountains. Among the many natural wonders is Uncompahgre National Forest covering more than 950,000 acres and Yankee Boy Basin within the forest. We will board specially converted 4-wheel-drive vehicles and take a safe and exciting journey to the beautiful alpine meadows at 12,526 feet. Driving up and along Canyon Creek, we’ll travel under dramatic cliffs, past the lower Camp Bird Mine, through the ghost town of Sneffels, past the Revenue, Atlas and Ruby Trust mines, and up to the beautiful Twin Falls surrounded by rugged mountain peaks. Arriving at the Basin, in summer we will be surrounded by fabulous wildflowers including the Colorado state flower, the Blue Columbine. In autumn, the magnificent fall colors of golden aspen and red shrubs await. Camp Bird Mine, which we passed en route, is one of the most famous and highly productive old gold mines in the San Juan Mountains. It was discovered in 1896 by Irish immigrant Thomas F. Walsh, who became one of the richest men in America and — highly unusual for his time — a progressive advocate for laborers. As a result, Camp Bird Mine did not experience the violent strikes that many western mines of the era underwent. We’ll then hop board our motorcoach for a short ride to the town of Ridgeway.
At a local restaurant, we’ll have plated lunches including salad, choice of entrée, and choice of soft drinks, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.
Next, we’ll ride our motorcoach or walk the short distance to the Ridgway Railroad Museum, dedicated to preserving Colorado railroad history with a focus on restoration, education, and research. Our resident expert will lead our walk through the facility. Those who wish to may choose to explore the collection independently. The museum includes railroad equipment, artifacts, historical data, books, and photographs of Ouray County and the San Juan Mountains, plus exhibits and displays of railroad rolling stock. Most famous is the museum's "Galloping Goose" rail-motorcar — a unique combination of locomotives and cars designed and built by adapting gasoline powered autos and trucks into small rail vehicles. Returning to Ouray, the remainder of the afternoon will be free to enjoy on your own. Our resident expert will give recommendations about local historic sites and museums.
This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.
At leisure. Ouray, named for the most famous chief of the Ute people, has much to offer for a small mining town. About two-thirds of the original Victorian structures are still occupied and have been restored. You might like to visit the Ouray County Museum housed in the original St. Joseph Miners’ Hospital or take a dip in the famous, sulfur-free Hot Springs Pool (open until 10:00 p.m.). Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.