Part 33: Craig, CO to Durango, CO


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The Trip

We spent the night at the Yampa River State Park just east of Craig, CO.  Next morning, we broke camp and headed back through Craig then south along the west slope of the Rocky Mountains toward Durango, CO.  We did not make the full journey in one day, instead we spent the night north of Paonia, CO.

The photos below are what we saw.

Just south of Craig, CO we passed this huge coal-fired power plant.  The plant was so big that it took an ultra-wide-angle setting on the camera to get the photo above.  Note the switch yard on the left of the photo and the coal receiving and staging area on the right.

Further south on the highway we came upon one of the mines that undoubtedly provides coal for the power plant.  The conveyor belt brings coal down the mountain to the staging area for the railroad.

Before large automation, this is the way coal mining was done.  The entrance to the tunnel is to the left of the wooden structure.

The entire western slope of the Rocky Mountains has suffered substantial uplifting during the formation of the mountain range.  The tilting of the bedding that resulted is clearly visible in the photo above.

We drove south until we hit I-70 and then went east to Glenwood Springs.  From a bridge crossing the Colorado River we spotted these paddle boarders.  It looks very unstable to me, I am sure that they go unintentionally swimming frequently.

Some of the local farmers were in Glenwood Springs for a day out.

Over the Colorado River, we got a view of these kayakers.  Note the color of the water.  In the old days, they used to say that the "Colorado River is too thick to drink and too thin to plow" due to the amount of sediment that is carried in the water.

South of Carbondale, we got a view of Mt. Sopris.

Daylight was not on our side and we decided to roll into a National Forest camp near the highway.  The view of the cliffs from our camp was stunning.

Next morning after the sun rose sufficiently to illuminate the cliffs again, we got a great view of the western wall of the canyon.

This fellow was begging for hand-outs.

We continued south on CO-133 and got views of some of the other peaks in the area.  Note the area to the left of the peak that seems as if has been eroded due to glaciation.

As we crossed over a pass to Paonia we got a nice view of the valleys to the east.

Thor struggled over the 9,000+ foot pass and on the downside we came upon these bicyclists that had done the pass on their bikes.

The west has been suffering an extended drought and this reservoir near the highway shows the results.  Note the sediment that has washed up on the banks.

Further south we encountered another large coal mine.

Just a mile further we came to another large mine.  The production of this mine comes from conveyer at the bottom right of the photo and the other conveyor at the center right.

There was clearly a huge seam of coal in the area because in just another few miles we came to this operation.

We continued south to Ridgway, then went west.  From the highway we could see the peaks in the mountain range to the east.  These are some intense peaks.

This range of peaks shows evidence of intense glacial erosion.  Note the vertical cliffs.

From an overlook, we could see the San Juan range to the south.

Steep cliffs produce detritus.  The highway department was there cleaning up this rock slide.  The traffic was backed-up for about 20 minutes to pass.

From an overlook near Telluride we got a great view of the mountain range to the east of the city.

The city of Telluride is at the base of the big cliffs.

We did not go into Telluride but rather headed south over yet another pass.  Near the first crest of the pass the cliffs to the east came into clear view.

To the southwest from the first crest the peaks of Sunshine Mountain showed major glacial action.

The colors in the rock are an indication of the high level of mineralization.

We encountered many delays due to road construction.  This section was no different.  But, the difference is the fellow on the rear deck of the paving machine who is texting.

Note the rich colors in the rock and the small pockets of snow remaining.

Trout Lake near the crest of the pass with colorful cliffs in the background.

This is Lizard Head rock.  We continued south through Dolores, then west through Mancos to Durango to join our friends Brad and Laura at their place in Hermosa.

We spent the night at Brad and Laura's place in Hermosa.  Their house is very close to the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.  We could hear the steam whistle far enough away to grab the cameras and sprint to the tracks to catch the oncoming train.

During the summer season DSNGRR runs 3 trains a day for the tourists.

A view of Brad and Laura's awesome house at the foot of the red cliffs.  Brad's daughter Amy said that if Thor were a Transformer, it would be a decepticon.

This was a particularly nice segment of our trip.  The San Juan mountains are awesome and one of the more beautiful ranges in the Rockies.  We greatly appreciated Brad and Laura's hospitality for letting us stay at their place.

Next day we did some maintenance actions on Thor and the following day we took Brad's 416 DOKA mog into the mountains north of Hermosa for some light fourwheeling.

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