Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Yankee Boy Basin & The Million Dollar Highway

12 years ago Mom and Dad took a car trip through Colorado and they sort of followed the same route that we are taking.  While staying in Ouray they took a Jeep road (which is what you do in Ouray – drive Jeeps down rocky roads) to Yankee Boy Basin and they have been raving about it ever since! It was the best wildflower show my Dad had ever seen!  So, today, I was going to get to go out there!

We headed out from the campground around 9:30 and drove through Ouray and to the road to Yankee Boy.  Immediately after turning off the highway the road turned to dirt and there was an old “rescue” truck parked right as you went in!


The road wasn’t bad at all, just a typical gravel road.  There was lots of mining going on along the road and there were big piles of gravel every few miles.  It didn’t have the “backcountry” feel that I’d thought the area had from reading descriptions online.  Mom and Dad said that the road had been improved since they’d been there and that when they were here before it was rough the whole way in.



After a few miles we came to a fork in the road and thought we should keep going straight rather than bear right.  Almost as soon as we did things got interesting.  There was a bulldozer re-grading a portion of the road and it was really steep and really soft – I didn’t think we’d make it, but the bulldozer pulled over and we went right up.  Next we had to ford a creek.  It was shallow and the Jeep went easily, however, Mom and Dad didn’t remember this part at all.  We let the folks who were behind us pass us and when they did we asked if this was the way to Yankee Boy – they said it was and showed us their map – which was the same as ours – out of the Ouray Tourism “magazine” we’d picked up!  Not really for navigational purposes.  We continued along until we came to another fork and the folks ahead of us where stopped trying to decide.  I hopped out to run back and ask the folks in the car behind us if we were heading to Yankee Boy.  We were in fact on the wrong road!  We were heading to Governor's Basin!  We turned around and headed back to the spot where we were supposed to have gone right instead of straight. 

The last part of the road was rough!  Big rocks in the road, tight turns, dips, it was slow going!  Soon though we saw the twin falls!  These falls supposedly are the inspiration behind the graphic  on the Coor’s Beer cans.  We got out to look around, walk and take pictures before driving the rest of the way to the end of the road. 



Soon after we got back in the car we came to a spot with a very large rock in the road and a large rock on the side.  We weren’t sure we could get the Jeep through…but Dad inched the tire up on the big rock and over we went! The next obstacle was a big puddle!  We couldn’t tell how deep it was (I offered to wade into it so we could tell) and other cars were stopped there so we turned around and went back to a larger parking area to have lunch!



After lunch and tea on the rock Dad and I walked up to the end of road (sort of) and up another road to where we had a view of the whole basin! The wildflowers were amazing!  Not a huge variety, but hundreds and thousands of them!  I tried to capture it, but failed!

P1140372Mom enjoying tea after lunch! Yes, we brought the “real” mugs! LOL!




As much as I might like to have stayed and walked around more we were also planning to drive The Million Dollar Highway from Ouray to Silverton and it was getting late so we had to head down.  It was also getting very cloudy and looking like it might rain. 

The Million Dollar Highway was just as scenic – big mountains, views of Ouray, Red Mountain Pass!

P1140406Looking down on Ouray

P1140408Surprise waterfall at an overlook along the Million Dollar Highway

P1140411Red Mountain

Soon we arrived in Silverton, which reminded me of the Alaskan town in Northern Exposure. Motorcycle Dude from Black Canyon of the Gunnison had recommended Handlebars Restaurant and Saloon so we ate there!  What an eclectic fun place! The waiter was funny and they had all sorts of funny signs all over the place!  The food was good too! It was mostly a ribs & burgers place, but they had a California sandwich that was very good!

After dinner we wandered the t-shirt shops on Main Street in Silverton before heading down to Ouray. 

On the way through Ouray this morning I spotted an Ice Cream Parlor, so we decided to pass on homemade Peach Cobbler and homemade Bread Pudding at Handlebars since we were full, and head for ice cream in Ouray.  Well, as has been the pattern, the ice cream place in Ouray didn’t have very good flavors.  We found another place that we thought might have peach cobbler (I’d asked Siri and she came up with some reviews…it got very complicated), but they didn’t.  Finally we tried one last place that was a coffee shop and made their own chocolates and also had ice cream (according to Google Maps…I’d give up Siri at this point!), Mouse’s Chocolates and Coffee.  They had satisfactory flavors of ice cream, but they also had “Scrap Cookies”.  When they make their chocolates they have scraps.  They save the scraps and bake them into cookies!  So the cookie might have bits of toffee, truffle, caramel, nuts, etc… Who knows?  Each one is different!  I decided that a Scrap Cookie would be better than ice cream since you can get that (almost) anywhere and these cookies were unique to this store!  It was YUMMY!!! Although it was very big & I didn’t save half for later!  It was worth it though!

Too see more pictures see my album on Goggle+: Yankee Boy Basin & The Million $ Highway

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