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Home Explore San Juan Skyway Visitor Guide Summer 2021

San Juan Skyway Visitor Guide Summer 2021

Published by deb, 2021-06-01 02:25:55

Description: Green grocers, Badwater TV pilot filmed in Montezuma County, Rico repurposes historic trails, zip line tours, and Mancos BurroFest.


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S ykywaSaJn uan Summer/Fall 2021

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Towns Along the Skyway Contents 8 14 16 24 30 34 40 42 48Ridgway Ouray Silverton Durango Mancos Cortez Dolores Rico Telluride 22-23 San Juan Skyway map and routes Features 10 Crashing Down Rockfall destroys Ouray Ice Park bridge and pipeline to historic hydroelectric plant 18 12 Green Grocers The best bodegas on the block 18 Looking Back In Time Through A Camera Lens Photographer Thomas Livingstone captures historic treasures 26 Take the High Road Zip line tours offer an elevated perspective 26 32 Bring on the Burros Mancos BurroFest celebrates art, history, and the unsung mining heroes of the West 36 Lights, Camera, Action Local writer and director film TV pilot in Montezuma County 32 44 Giddy Up 4 SaJn uan Skyway Visitor Guide - Summer/Fall 2021 Rico to repurpose historic trails for biking and hiking 50 Upshot Beaver Selfie

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GARY RATCLIFF S ykywaSaJn uan VISITOR GUIDE TELLURIDE PUBLISHING, LLC SkywaySaJn~ uan ADVERTISING Jenny Page VISITOR GUIDE ~ EDITORIAL Deb Dion Kees ~ CREATIVE DIRECTOR Kristal Franklin ~ DISTRIBUTION Telluride Delivers ~ WEB GURU Susan Hayse ~ PHOTOGRAPHERS Steve Fassbinder Alisia Klimasewiski Thomas Livingstone Michael Mowery Gary Ratcliffe Devon Wycoff ~ WRITERS Deanna Drew Chuck Graham Maple Andrew Taylor ~ The San Juan Skyway Visitor Guide is produced by Telluride Publishing. Telluride Publishing also produces Telluride Magazine For more information, visit For advertising inquiries: [email protected] 970-729-0913 For editorial inquiries: [email protected] 970-708-0060 ©2021 Telluride Publishing, LLC. Cover and contents are fully protected and must not be reproduced in any manner without written permission from the publisher. ~ ON THE COVER Red Mountain with its flanks awash in brilliant Indian Paintbrush. Photo by Gary Ratcliff. 6 SaJn uan Skyway Visitor Guide - Summer/Fall 2021

TAKE A WALK ON THE Wild Side STEVE FASSBINDER After a year of being quarantined, “THERE ARE ALWAYS biking trails near Rico, where the town hopes masked, and only making essential NEW THINGS TO FIND OUT IF YOU to extend the trail network to incorporate trips, it’s finally time to travel and ex- historic routes (“Giddy Up,” p. 44). Venture plore again. Mountain athletes have a term for outside of Ouray to hike the Perimeter Trail tackling a race or intense adventure without GO LOOKING FOR THEM.” or climb the Via Ferrata and you might get a training and preparation: “off the couch.” No glimpse of the rockfall that damaged the Ice matter what our summer plans are, whether Park bridge and pipeline to the hydroelectric they include a road trip, a backcountry excur- —David Attenborough power plant (“Crashing Down,” p. 10). Or if sion, or even just venturing to a new place you’re looking to finally check something off or business, this summer we’re all doing it that bucket list, why not try zip lining? There off the couch. We’re all a bit out of practice, TV pilot “Badwater” that was filmed in Montezuma are three zip lining adventures available on the socially and otherwise. County (“Lights, Camera, Action,” p. 36) or find out San Juan Skyway; each is unique but all are thrilling Maybe you want to start slow, and stock up on about the Mancos arts festival celebrating the unsung (“Take the High Road,” p. 26). food before you head out. In this issue we introduce mining heroes of the West (“Bring on the Burros,” p. From mild to wild and everything in between, the readers to two of the best bodegas on the block 32). And we have a story about an intrepid photogra- San Juan Skyway has something for everyone to ex- (“Green Grocers,” p. 12). These boutique natural food pher who set out to capture all the historic remnants plore. Enjoy your travels, wherever they take you. stores feature locally grown and raised produce and of the mining era in the San Juans (“Looking Back In goods, giving you a taste of the regional flavor. Time Through A Camera Lens,” p. 18). Thanks for reading, We also give you a peek at some the artistic things If you have something more adventurous in mind, Deb Dion Kees happening along the San Juan Skyway. Read about the we have some suggestions. Check out the hiking and SaJn uan Skyway Visitor Guide - Summer/Fall 2021 7

Ridgway PHOTOS BY GARY RATCLIFF EVEN HOLLYWOOD TOOK NOTE OF RIDGWAY’S SPECTACULAR WESTERN SCENERY AND CHARACTER, SETTING THE ORIGINAL FILM TRUE GRIT HERE DECADES AGO. Ridgway is the northernmost entry to the San Juan Skyway and is known as the Gateway to the San Juans. Its beautifully manicured town park hosts music concerts, arts festivals, and a farmers market and its county fairgrounds is home to a great professional rodeo that caps off the summer. Ridgway has a sprawling reservoir with camping and its tributary the Uncompahgre River, with all sorts of watersports opportunities, boating, SUP, tubing, fishing, and waterskiing. The community is a hub for artists and artisans, with lots of galleries and outdoor sculpture, and the Ridgway Railroad Museum pays tribute to the town’s advent as a transportation hub, headquarters of the Rio Grande Southern narrow gauge railroad serving miners, ranchers and farmers in the 1800s. 8 SaJn uan Skyway Visitor Guide - Summer/Fall 2021

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CRASHING DOWN Rockfall destroys Ouray Ice Park bridge and pipeline to historic hydroelectric plant The good news is that it happened at night when By Maple Andrew Taylor new section of pipeline and attachment structures are the busy Ouray Ice Park was closed and no one being proposed and designed for approval. “Installa- was there. The bad news is that it happened in 1885 and generates about 4 million kilowatt hours tion will require a heavy helicopter using a longline at all: a rock the size of a pool table calved per year. Jacobson leases the land along the gorge because of the tricky location of the broken section in from the cliff face and tore through a popular access to the City of Ouray (for one dollar a year) for the ice the gorge. The plan is to have the pipeline in place and bridge for climbers and a hundred feet of penstock, climbing park. Jacobson said, “This is probably the operational sometime in June,” Jacobson said. the large-diameter pipeline that supplies water to one worst spot for fixing the penstock in the entire gorge, of the oldest hydroelectric power plants in the world. and the most damage we’ve ever seen.” The new access bridge for the southern part of the Ice Park, which includes the popular climbing routes of Ouray Ice Park executive director Peter O’Neil The Ouray Ice Park is operated by Ouray Ice Park, the School Room, New Funtier, and South Park, is also in climbed down into the gorge the morning of March Inc., a small nonprofit funded solely by donations, and the design and approval phase. Design specification for 16 just hours after the damage occurred. “We are very access to the park is free. So, the costs for constructing bridges/walkways carrying people have become much fortunate that it happened at night,” he said. “A lot of a new access bridge and repairing the penstock were more stringent since the old bridge was constructed climbers use that bridge during the day and it was well beyond what the Ice Park could afford. When the more than a half-century ago. Because of the time it completely destroyed.” Colorado Office of Economic Development & Inter- takes for the design and approval process, a walk-around national Trade became aware of the Ice Park’s plight, trail to access the popular climbing routes is being de- To make matters worse, the destroyed penstock they stepped up right away and through the Office of veloped so that the Ouray Ice Park won’t have to risk any also supplies as much as 70 percent of the water (up to Film, Television and Media, produced a documentary delays for the scheduled 2021 opening in mid-Decem- 200,000 gallons per night) used to irrigate the canyon film about the Ice Park rockfall for an online GoFund- ber. More than 15,000 ice climbers come to Ouray every walls to make the ice—a process called “ice farming”— Me effort to raise the money for the relatively expensive winter to climb the thick, sheer walls of ice, supporting for the internationally renowned ice climbing routes. repairs. By mid-May they had surpassed the $100,000 the area’s winter economy. Luckily, the rockfall did not fundraising goal. To augment these funds, the Ouray Ice affect the Ice Park’s new summer climbing route, the Via Rockfall is not uncommon in the Uncompahgre Park is in open dialog with its current sponsors about Ferrata, which is scheduled to reopen May 1. To learn Gorge and the penstock has been damaged before, but purchasing naming rights for the new access bridge. more or to donate, visit not at this magnitude. Eric Jacobson is the owner of the historic hydroelectric power plant, which was built Eric Jacobson has already met with FERC (the Federal Energy and Regulatory Commission) and a 10 SaJn uan Skyway Visitor Guide - Summer/Fall 2021

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GREEN GROCERS The best bodegas on the block T here’s something special about a small, local market. It’s hard to say whether the storeowners curate just the right things to attract shoppers or whether it’s the other way around—the disposition of the customers helps define what a store carries and the shopping experience. But in the case of perfect little spots like Ridgway Natural Foods and Dolores Food Market, it’s probably a little of both. Ridgway Natural Foods opened in Sep- tember, to the delight of town residents. The market relocated this spring to a bigger space, a beautifully restored old building on Clinton Street that used to be a barbershop and ice house. “It’s a grocery store, but it’s so much more than that,” says co-owner Honga Im. “A lot of what we do is about connecting the community.” She offers an example: Ridgway Natu- ral Foods sells fresh eggs from Ferguson Ranch, just down the road. The market also presses fresh juices on site, delivering the pulp back to the hens at Ferguson Ranch. “It’s a full circle,” says Im. Lowering the store’s carbon footprint and reducing waste is important to Im and her co-owner Megan Kimmel. Kimmel is a champion ultrarunner who had a success- ful coffee shop in Silverton for years. Im is a chef and restaurateur who ran Tellu- ride’s most popular dining establishment (Honga’s Lotus Petal) for decades. They seek out local ranchers and growers— eggs and grassfed beef from Ferguson Ranch, cheese and milk from Rockin W in Olathe, pork from Happy Hogs Farm in Montrose, and produce from High Desert Seed & Gardens in Montrose. Buying from local producers means low- er emissions from transportation. They also have a “jar exchange” program; customers invest two dollars in a jar the first time they purchase house-made kimchi, coconut curry soup, pesto, or bulk food. They can return the jar and get a new one for free when they make their next purchase. That makes for less 12 SaJn uan Skyway Visitor Guide - Summer/Fall 2021

plastic and packaging. “We all need to change how we of visitors who shop there on their way to the desert attle Fish Company in Montrose. The deli wraps fresh to-go sandwiches, salads, meats, and even dolmas. do things,” says Im. “We’re just trying to give people for camping and adventure. Owner Linnea Peterson has Adjacent to the deli is a portal into an oasis: a the opportunity to shift, make little changes. We’re not cultivated a huge list of vendors and local produce sup- walk-in produce cooler, replete with fresh vegetables and fruit from regional farms and orchards. “We in- purists, but even little changes make a difference.” pliers over the years to make sure that the store carries stalled it in 2019. We have maybe twenty local pro- ducers that bring in products for us, and some do it Everything at Ridgway Natural Foods is thought- items ranging from fifty-pound bags of Adobe Milling year-round, like the Four Seasons Nursery salad mix. It used to be just spring and fall.” fully selected: ayurvedic medicinals, wild-caught dried beans to local Mesa Verde honey and everything Perhaps the only thing that can upstage the mini and ethically harvested fish, shampoo bars instead in between. If they don’t have it, you don’t need it. “We farmer’s market vibe in the walk-in cooler is the bak- of plastic bottles, CBD sodas, kombucha. In addition have a lot of vendors and it kept us afloat during the ery. The Dolores Market pot pies and fruit pies are legendary, but they also make to their bulk beans, pasta, oils, and dried fruit, the pandemic. Most stores only have one or two suppliers. casseroles, gluten-free enchiladas, tama- les, lasagnas, bars, cookies, brownies, and store presses their own juices, creams their own nut We had toilet paper when no one else did. It can be a fresh salsas. These make easy meals and desserts to take home, courtesy of what butters, and will start milling their own grains. The lot to manage, but it’s very rewarding,” says Peterson. Peterson says is the best crew in the world, a team of bakers, butchers, produce man- atmosphere is bright, clean, and com- agers, deli staff, and cashiers. fortable, and the owners love it when THEY CONNECT PRODUCERS The two grocery stores are more than a customers come in and ask questions hundred miles apart, on opposite sides of the San Juan Skyway in Ridgway and Do- about food and how to prepare it. “We AND GROWERS WITH CONSUMERS, lores, but they both operate under the same just have things that are awesome and philosophy of serving their community. During the pandemic, they went out of their way, whether it was taste good,” says Im. “We’re not trying AND THEY DON’T JUST CARRY making deliveries or offering curbside pickup, so that to be bougie or fancy, just down-to- locals had what they needed. They connect producers and growers with consumers, and they don’t just carry earth and accessible for everyone.” GOOD FOOD, THEY CARRY good food, they carry the best food. Im said that the As mountain athletes, chefs, and COVID crisis taught us the value of being more com- munal, sharing and serving and taking care of each now specialty grocers, food is vitally THE BEST FOOD. other. Peterson agrees. “We’re sort of like a co-op but important to both women. Im has al- without the annual fee,” says Peterson. “We work hard to build relationships with our local suppliers, and ways been fascinated by the dynam- also with our customers.” ics of flavors and how geography and culture give rise to regional cuisine. She has traveled In addition to the food staples there is a mélange all over the world and perfected culinary skills like of specialty items on the shelves—things like Pa- making sushi and fermentation. Her experience is taks condiments, Better Than Bouillon soup base, complemented by Kimmel’s energy, motivation, and Alexandre a2 milk, nutritional yeast, gourmet chees- commitment to nutrition and health. “I like the idea es from Longmont, HP steak sauce, and even a “Do- of knowing that food is medicine,” says Im. “We can lores Market Blend” organic/fair trade roast from really help our health with the way we eat, and we can Desert Sun Coffee in Durango. “I’ll bring in a new balance that with what makes us and our taste buds product and the staff gets mad at me; where are we happy. Life is a balance.” going to put this?” Balance is also key to the success and longevity of The market also has an on-site butcher to process Dolores Food Market, which opened its doors in 1996. the local chicken and black angus beef from Callaway The market caters to its locals as well as the deluge Meat in Delta, and orders fresh fish weekly from Se- SaJn uan Skyway Visitor Guide - Summer/Fall 2021 13

Ouray PHOTOS BY GARY RATCLIFF WHEN YOU DRIVE INTO OURAY YOU MAY WONDER WHERE YOU TOOK A WRONG TURN AND HOW YOU ENDED UP IN THE EUROPEAN ALPS. From Ouray’s incredible Uncompahgre Gorge (which is famous for its manmade ice climbing park in winter) to the pristine and beautiful mountains in which it is encircled, as well as its quaint Victorian architecture, old-fashioned shops, and historic main drag and museum, the town has a distinctly alpine feel. Ouray has all kinds of recreational opportunities, such as hiking, running, camping, jeeping, river sports, and mountaineering; whatever you do, don’t miss the Perimeter Trail, which offers a stunning view of the Cascade Falls and the gorge. After you recreate, relax by visiting one of Ouray’s geothermal treats, hot springs, a pool, or vapor caves. 14 SaJn uan Skyway Visitor Guide - Summer/Fall 2021

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Silverton GARY RATCLIFF SILVERTON IS THE BEST-KEPT SECRET IN THE SAN JUANS.. The tiny, historic town only has about 700 residents, and they like it that way— they have miles and miles of ruggedly beautiful mountains as their private playground, with great jeeping, hiking, biking, trail running, mountaineering and river running in their own backyard. There are classic Victorian buildings to explore, including the notorious Blair Street establishments, mining tours and gold-panning, music, and theatre. Silverton is also home to the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, where visitors arriving on the first train each summer are treated to locals dressed in Victorian-era costumes and the old-time sounds of a brass band. 16 SaJn uan Skyway Visitor Guide - Summer/Fall 2021

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LOOKING BACK IN TIME THROUGH A CAMERA LENS Photographer Thomas Livingstone captures historic treasures There is no denying the rugged beauty of Colo- By Chuck Graham | Photos by Thomas Livingstone to photograph locally. After more research, I realized rado’s San Juan Mountains; and hidden within that this was just the tip of the iceberg. I was amazed to that vast realm of blocky talus, aspen trees, photographed the Guston Boarding House in 2012 that discover that there were hundreds of historic structures and steep scree slopes there are iconic, his- I realized I was on to something,” said Livingstone, who scattered throughout the San Juan Mountains. I decided toric treasures. For accomplished longtime Silverton also owns and runs his Kendall Mountain Gallery in Sil- to try and cover the whole San Juan Mountains.” landscape photographer Thomas Livingstone, the San verton. “My idea was to get twenty to thirty strong imag- Juans have revealed much more to him than just dra- es of the different historic mines and mills surrounding All that remains of that historical rush for gold and matic alpine mountainscapes. Silverton for a show in my gallery. I never imagined that silver are mostly dilapidated, weather-beaten mines, eight years later I would have a 160-page coffee table along with additional outbuildings splintered and left Back in the fall of 2012, Livingstone was seeking book for sale. When the backcountry roads opened up in shambles, yet still gripping steep mountainsides out a proper composition within a dense aspen forest. the following summer, I had a fairly long list of sites swept in loose scree and talus. The mining sites are With his wide-angle lens affixed to a sturdy tripod, he found anywhere from 8,500 feet to well over 12,000 stumbled upon a historic relic clinging to a forgotten feet in elevation, overlooking shimmering alpine lakes time within those vibrant orange, red, and yellow hues. mostly above treeline. It was the Guston Boarding House, part of the rich gold mining history of the San Juans, still standing the test And so, Livingstone embarked on a seven-year of time, but maybe more importantly, offering a unique quest. From 2012 to 2019, he artistically photo- contrast against the already stunning fall palette. graphed fifty-three historic mining sites throughout the San Juan Mountains. His thorough commitment CHANGING LANES documenting these sites has culminated in the cre- ation of his book, Historic Treasures of the San Juan Livingstone instantly shifted gears. His intention was Mountains. “In a way, I was surprised that this photo simply to photograph the brilliant fall colors, but the project hadn’t been done before,” said Livingstone, boarding house ignited a passion for preserving these “But then again, who would have the time and motiva- historic sites that have withstood more than a hundred tion to pull it off? I was running my gallery in Silver- years’ worth of weather and time. Capturing that bygone ton during the day and running out to shoot the early era became a priority for him. “It was shortly after I mornings and evenings. Living in the heart of the San Juans definitely made it convenient for me.” SaJn uan Skyway Visitor Guide - Summer/Fall 2021 19

WEATHER OR NOT feet on a barren mountainside, lightning strikes can shadows. The shadows offered separation between be a terrifying experience. Although, If I were waiting his subject matter and those epic backgrounds. Some of the sites were approached by simply driving the storm out in the valley floor, I would miss out on With such similar tones when shooting in black and a truck with dirt bike or ATV in tow on maintained dirt the magic that follows the storm. Often, I would set white, the separation was key. Sometimes it would roads, images created without much logistical effort. up a high camp with my camper for a place to retreat be hours, even days, for everything to line up appro- From there, Livingstone would create a high camp to and ride the storm out, enabling me to be close to priately. “I was pretty picky about my clouds,” said from which to explore further, always with an eye on my location when the storm broke. Using an ATV or Livingstone. “They played a huge role in my photo- the everchanging weather. dirt bike enabled me to get around quickly.” graphic series. Many locations were reshot just for better clouds. Learning the weather patterns in the Other mining sites required more detailed plan- Knowing the San Juans intimately, Livingstone San Juans was key.” ning from Livingstone. Many involved backpacking took advantage of the clouds when they threw their and trekking camping and camera gear into remote locations, setting up high camps and then getting up early to shoot a site. Some mining sites required skiing into, and it was not uncommon for Livingstone to find himself off-trail, navigating in challenging ter- rain with unpredictable weather bearing down on him. “There were times when things didn’t feel quite right and I had to seek shelter in the old mining structures wondering if they would offer me any protection from the lightning, as they usually have metal equipment and cable scattered all about,” recalled Livingstone. “Sometimes it was run for your life down the trail to get off the mountain. Having a base camp set up to retreat to helped me out more than once. I looked at the weather reports a lot; temps, dew points, winds aloft, precipitation, all of that stuff.” Clouds were also useful in providing nice, diffused light. The rough texture of the weathered mining struc- tures appeared too harsh with direct sunlight shining on them. Many of the images in the series were pho- tographed with soft and diffused light. “Capturing the afternoon clearing storm clouds comes with risk when you’re up high,” continued Livingstone. “The thunder- storms build quickly and when you are above 12,000 THE PROCESS Converting Livingstone’s images to black and white was apropos, considering the historic nature of the subjects, but it was a decision Livingstone made lat- er on in the process. The use of black and white photography trans- ports the viewer back in time, to the late 1800s and early 1900s and one of the greatest monumental shifts in the history of westward expansion—the search for silver and gold. It was an era fraught with rough and tumbled men and women carving out a life in the hopes of acquiring those highly sought-af- ter minerals that could change their lives forever. The mining boom not only transformed Colorado, but the entire American West and the rest of a bur- geoning continent as well. He initially shot the sites for a photographic print series to be displayed in his mountain gallery. However, as time went on and he captured more images, Livingstone realized a black and white book was in order. “Looking back on it, I should have been working on the book from the beginning. Instead, I waited till the very end. Once I finished shooting, I started on the gallery prints. In the back of my head was the coffee table book but I kept putting it off. Eventually, I realized that the book could be as important or perhaps more important than the print series.” Thomas Livingstone is a landscape photographer based out of Silverton, CO. To see more of his work from “Historic Treasures of the San Juan Mountains” visit his website at 20 SaJn uan Skyway Visitor Guide - Summer/Fall 2021

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THE SaJn uan SKYWAY The San Juan Skyway is the ultimate road trip. Along its breathtaking 236-mile loop are vibrant alpine communities, historic landmarks, Mesa Verde National Park, the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, wild rivers, pristine waterfalls and lakes, high-elevation passes and the gorgeous, jagged San Juan Mountain Range for which it is named. U.S. HIGHWAY 160 byway follows the San Miguel River down to the little crosses over Bear Creek Falls on a bridge at the loca- SMALL PHOTOS: GLEB TARASSENKO©-ADOBESTOCK.COM, NICK FOX©-ADOBESTOCK.COM, KRZYSZTOF WIKTOR©-ADOBESTOCK.COM Starting in Durango, Colorado, the largest city on San town of Placerville. tion of an impassable toll booth on the original road. Juan Skyway, the byway follows U.S. Highway 160 The Alpine Loop National Back Country Byway, a four- (US 160) west through the town of Mancos to Cortez STATE HIGHWAY 62 wheel-drive jeep road takes off in the gorge south of passing the entrance to Mesa Verde National Park. The byway turns east at Placerville onto SH 62 and Bear Creek Falls. Before leaving the gorge, the byway follows it over Dallas Divide. There are many excel- passes through a snow shed under the Riverside Slide STATE HIGHWAY 145 lent views of the San Juan Mountains, especially of avalanche zone. A monument stands near here honor- At Cortez, the byway turns north following State High- the mountains around the 14,150-foot (4,310 m) ing those who have lost their lives in the avalanche, in- way 145 (SH 145) through the town of Dolores and Mount Sneffels. From top of the divide the byway de- cluding several snowplow operators. At this point the follows the Dolores River into the San Juan National scends into the town of Ridgway. The entire route of byway enters Ironton Park, a nice flat valley in contrast Forest. The byway passes through the small town of the byway from Durango to Ridgway roughly follows to the gorge. The road ascends several switchbacks, Rico, county seat of Dolores County prior to 1941; the route of the Rio Grande Southern Railroad. or S-curves, past the Idarado mining operation to the the old courthouse still remains. From Rico, the by- 11,018-foot (3,358 m) summit of Red Mountain Pass, way crosses 10,222 ft (3116 m) Lizard Head Pass and U.S. HIGHWAY 550 providing views of Red Mountain (Colorado) and sev- enters the Uncompahgre National Forest. Lizard Head From Ridgway, the byway turns south onto US 550 eral ghost towns. Back into the San Juan National For- Pass provides views of the 14,159-foot (4,316 m) El following the Uncompahgre River into the Victori- est, the highway descends through the Chattanooga Diente Peak, the 14,246-foot (4,342 m) Mount Wil- an mining town of Ouray. From Ouray south back to Valley to Silverton. son, the 14,017-foot (4,272 m) Wilson Peak and the Durango, the highway is referred to as the Million pass’s namesake, the 13,113-foot (3,997 m) Lizard Dollar Highway, not for its priceless beauty but for From Silverton, the byway passes over the Head Peak. The byway descends near the little town of the extreme costs of its initial construction. The first 10,910-foot (3,330 m) Molas Pass and the 10,640- Ophir past the location of the famous Ophir Loop of the 7.0 miles (11.3 km) south of Ouray, the byway fol- foot (3,240 m) Coal Bank Pass descending past the Rio Grande Southern Railroad. A spur road heads off to lows through the Uncompahgre Gorge. Just past the ski resort of Durango Mountain. From Hermosa, the the old mining town turned ski resort of Telluride. The only tunnel on the route, just south of Ouray, the road road parallels the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad before returning to Durango. 22 SaJn uan Skyway Visitor Guide - Summer/Fall 2021

San Miguel River Uncompahgre Ridgway National Forest 145 Dallas Divide Placerville 8,970 ft. Unaweep/Tabeguache UncomRpivaehrgre 62 Scenic and Historic Byway 141 Uncompahgre National Forest Ouray Ouray Hot Sawpit 145 Springs Telluride CO Uncompahgre Telluride Ski Area Alpine National Forest Mountain Village Loop Mount Wilson Red Christ of 14,246 ft. Mountain the Mines Shrine Groundhog Rico Pass Reservoir 10,899 ft. Silverton 08 16 W. Dolores River Lizard Miles Head Molas Pass Pass 10,899 ft. San Juan 10,222 ft. National San Juan Forest National Dolores River Forest Durango Coal Bank Sunlight Peak Dolores River Mountain Pass 14,059 ft. 10,640 ft. Resort Animas River Electra McPhee 145 Lake Reservoir Dolores Hesperus San Juan Skyway Durango & Mountain Silverton Anasazi 13,232 ft. Hot Springs 550 Narrow Heritage Mancos Gauge S.P. Railroad Trail Center 184 La Plata R. Vallecito of the Mancos Reservoir 491 Lemon Reservoir Ancients Cortez Colorado 160 Florida River Welcome Center Dominguez and Durango Escalante 160 Ruins Rd. Mesa Verde Expedition National Park Monument Ute Mountain Mancos River 160 Indian Reservation 550 LosRPiivneors Southern Ute Indian Reservation SaJn uan Skyway Visitor Guide - Summer/Fall 2021 23

Durango PHOTOS BY DURANGO TOURISM OFFICE THE AUTHENTIC WESTERN TOWN OF DURANGO IS THE SAN JUAN SKYWAY’S VERSION OF A METROPOLIS. There are even a few traffic lights on its main corridor—and town is the main population center of Southwestern Colorado, so there are plenty of businesses and nightlife in the downtown area. But the town is also a hub for outdoor recreation, with the Animas River, local lakes, and lots of great hiking, biking, and mountaineering. There are all kinds of unique experiences you can have in Durango, from the interactive Durango Discovery Museum, to a trip on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, a day of zip lining or a paintball fight, to an old-fashioned shootout at the quick draw competition each year. Durango is the perfect mix of Old West and New West culture. 24 SaJn uan Skyway Visitor Guide - Summer/Fall 2021

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HIGTAHKERTHOEAD Zip line tours offer an elevated perspective Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to be a bird? To flit from treetop to treetop, looking down on the landscape, soaring around in the mountains? Well, you can experience it yourself by taking a zip line tour. Aerial cables as a mode of transportation in the mountains have been around for a couple thousand years, but zip line or canopy tours for recreation are fairly new. Canopy tours originated in Costa Rica, where wildlife biologists set up zip lines in the 1970s to study the rainforest ecology. Costa Rica patented the first recreational zip line system in 1998, and eventually the trend caught on in the United States. 26 SaJn uan Skyway Visitor Guide - Summer/Fall 2021

PUMP THE ADRENALINE AT The free fall is not mandatory—guests can instead get people outdoors, and to make the outdoors acces- DURANGO ADVENTURES opt to take one last zip line that spans over the parking sible for just about everybody. People are timid and lot and lands on the roof of the office building. “It’s pret- skeptical sometimes…to watch them progress and go Durango Adventures owner Stefan Van der Steen was ty cool; there’s a waiting area with couches. It’s fun for outside of their comfort zone is very rewarding, not a business consultant before he made the leap of faith groups, kind of like a rooftop patio. They land right there. only for the customers, but also for the guides and for from the corporate world to the outdoor adventure It’s fun to see somebody landing on top of a building.” me as an owner. I’d like to think that we make people world. Initially he was just in the business of guid- appreciate the outdoors a little more.” ing hiking and mountain biking, but in 2011 he took The operation is open year-round, and Van der another big step off the platform into zip lining. “That Steen prides himself on taking care of his employees, THE GREAT ESCAPE: SOARING TREE made adventures more accessible to people, and making guiding a real profession and not just a pas- TOP ADVENTURES we’ve been pretty successful since then.” sion by paying them well and giving them work that is not seasonal. “That was one of my goals coming from If the COVID-19 pandemic taught us anything, it’s the Durango Adventures has other activities—off- the corporate world. Our guides are not just hired for value of escaping the grind and spending time im- road tours, whitewater rafting, even axe throwing (after the summer, and they’re not living in a van by the river. mersed in nature. Quarantines and crowds drove us a year of pandemic restrictions, it’s a great way to work It’s a full-time, year-round career opportunity where away from urban centers and into the freedom of being out frustration, says Van der Steen) but its star attrac- they can make a living and start a family.” in the wild expanse of the outdoors. tion is the zip line operation. His other goal? Sharing the stoke with his cus- Remote places held a new kind of allure; and It’s an impressive setup, encompassing twelve tomers. “For me it’s always been a passion to try to places like Soaring Tree Top Adventures were in even zip lines and a forty-five-foot adventure tower with dif- higher demand. ferent climbing elements including a free fall feature. Located in a natural setting, guests hike to the top of Soaring Tree Top Adventures sits on 180 acres the park to start. The first half of the spans are shorter surrounded by the San Juan National Forest. It used tree-to-tree routes to let people get comfortable and to be the Tall Timber resort, but in 2004 it became enjoy the views of Durango and the mountains. “The the first zip line operation in the United States. It’s last part of the adventure, the last five or six, are more an adventure just to get to the former resort, which is ‘adrenaline’ zip lines. Once people are used to the feel only accessed by train or helicopter. And last summer, of the lines and the harness, they’re longer and fast- when the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad er...more speed,” says Van der Steen. was shut down by the pandemic, there was a whole lot of helicopter traffic to the destination. “The resort The pièce de résistance is the adventure tower, began in the early 70s. Soaring was an add-on activity, which is the finale of the tour but can also be accessed an additional offering to the guests, but it took on a life separately with the “Hour on the Tower” package. It is of its own. So we switched to accommodating guests forty-five feet high, made of steel, with a rope ladder and who arrived by train, day guests, if you will. Zip lining netting. From the top of the tower, visitors can step off the was new, and nobody even knew what it was in the platform and experience a free fall before the auto belay early 2000s,” says co-operator Dionne Beggrow. device catches them for a slow rappel to the ground. SaJn uan Skyway Visitor Guide - Summer/Fall 2021 27

Soaring Tree Top Adventures features twenty-sev- Beggrow says that they adopted COVID proto- rappels, two sky bridges, and a short hike. The longest en spans ranging from fifty-six to 1,400 feet in length, cols early and were able to accommodate groups span is 1,800 feet and the course traverses gullies and including ten river crossings over the Animas River and guests who helicoptered in last summer, and this bounces from ridge to ridge, high above the ground, and two parallel spans of more than 600 feet, where year, with the train operating again, they have created anywhere from forty-four to 208 feet up. Guests travel people can race each other. Guests begin in the learn- a special VIP Private Tour package including trans- at speeds between ten and forty miles per hour, de- ing center, in a building with multiple stories, start portation for groups of up to twenty people. “We get pending on the length of the span and the person— with shorter spans to get accustomed, and the day lots of return guests, even grandparents bringing their it’s a self-braking system with fail-safe backups, so ends with the 1,400-foot span. grandkids, family reunions, groups of friends,” says guests can take it fast or slow and still be protected. Beggrow. It is not just an adventure, but a sanctuary, The patented system they use is unique, relying a true wilderness escape. “It’s stress-free being here, The trip starts with a ride up Lift 4, and a training on the rise and run of the cables to slow people down away from all the busy places and tension.” assessment and gear introduction by the guides—each before they come into the next platform—no braking group has a lead and a tail guide. Anyone under the age of necessary—and are greeted by the Sky Rangers, GET HIGH WITH TELLURIDE fifteen must be accompanied by an adult, and riders need Soaring’s zip line guides, who also help them set off CANOPY ADVENTURES to weigh a minimum of seventy pounds, enough mass on the next leg of the adventure. The system has al- to make it through the zips, says Pittenger. They should lowed them to accommodate guests age four all the Telluride didn’t invent the art of adventure, but it has also be comfortable with heights—although every step is way up to ninety-four. “You don’t have to control your certainly taken it to the next level. The destination is secure. Guests are hooked in by guides for the rappels, own speed; you just hold on and have fun. The rangers renowned for its bold experiences: climbing Wilson and clipped into a cable for the traverse across the wood do all the work,” says Beggrow. Peak, braving the sheer wall on the Via Ferrata, skiing sky bridges, so they can hold on with both hands as they the resort’s steep mountain chutes, or downhill moun- walk from tower to tower. After the trip, they get a ride back The adventure lasts five and a half hours and tain biking on its thrilling Mountain Bike Park Trails. down in a side-by-side four-wheeler. “If you’re comfort- includes a four-course, gourmet lunch. The focus is able riding on a lift, you’re going to be comfortable riding on the alpine setting, a beautiful old-growth forest, The Telluride Canopy Adventures are the newest on a canopy adventure. But you’re just so immersed in and the experience features an eco-tour interspersed option. Constructed for a summer 2020 opening but the experience you hardly notice how high you are. It’s a throughout the course. “A lot of people describe it as delayed by the pandemic, the trips are now open for safe feeling when you are rigged in to the zip, a sense of really exhilarating. You’re in this pristine forest, and visitors in 2021. Director of Mountain Operations Scott security so you can enjoy the experience,” says Pittenger. you can experience it in a different way. It’s such a Pittenger says the opening is just in time. “We saw the smooth, free feeling.” increased desire for outdoor recreation opportunities That’s the point, after all—to experience the scen- and wanted to diversify our offerings with the canopy ery in a unique way. “We’re famous for our natural beau- That feeling is owing in part to the system’s con- adventure. This is a really incredible experience that ty and dramatic landscape. Hiking, you’re engaging on struction: the platforms and lines are built with heli- we think fits our market. It engages people in our natu- the ground level. With the canopy adventures, you’re up copter-grade, stainless metal that is smoother than a ral environment and we’re proud to be stewards of it,” at the top of the tree level. You can look down, but also standard cable, explains Beggrow, and guests ride in says Pittenger. “It’s a really rad adventure.” look above treeline and take in the expanse of our land- custom Petzl harnesses. So it’s also a quieter experi- scape. You can get a cool perspective on where you are ence; the sound of travel over a standard hewn cable The canopy excursions are suited to active par- in this world and how special and unique Telluride is.” is why it is called “zip” lining. ticipants. The route is comprised of five spans, two 28 SaJn uan Skyway Visitor Guide - Summer/Fall 2021

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Mancos MESA VERDE COUNTRY TOURISM OFFICE IT IS EASY TO SEE WHY THE PROLIFIC WESTERN AUTHOR LOUIS L’AMOUR CHOSE THE MANCOS AREA AS HIS HOME AND AS THE SETTING FOR HIS BOOKS. The Mancos Valley continues a 140-year tradition as the center of ranching at the edge of the San Juan Mountains and Mesa Verde National Park. Mancos is the bridge between the culture of the Old West and the New West, with cattle drives down Main Street and modern art galleries along Grand Avenue, an old- fashioned distillery and a coffee house, as well as easy access to all the hiking, biking, fishing, and hunting that makes people fall in love with the West. 30 SaJn uan Skyway Visitor Guide - Summer/Fall 2021

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BBRUINGRORNOTHSE Mancos BurroFest celebrates art, history, and the unsung mining heroes of the West By Maple Andrew Taylor Aburro is actually a small donkey, typically used as a pack an- imal; and burros have a long history in Colorado. Because of their sure footing, ability to carry heavy loads relative to their size, and the fact that they aren’t picky about what they eat, bur- ros were a mainstay in the nineteenth century mining industry, working underground hauling ore carts and in long strings carrying ore from remote, high-elevation mines down to processing facilities. Burros are experiencing a remarkable resurgence in the West, particularly in Col- orado where pack burro racing has been designated as the state’s heri- tage sport. Pack burro races, where a human-burro team runs anywhere from a few miles up to thirty miles, have recently sprung up in Texas and California, and new events have been added to the Western Pack Burro Association’s sanctioned summer race circuit here in Colorado. Ever seen a real, live burro? Just head to downtown Mancos on June 19, and you will see burros everywhere you look on historic Grand Avenue. Yes, burros. The Mancos BurroFest includes a burro-human race, artists at work, art galleries, food, beverages, and festivities. Sponsored by the Mancos Creative District, the event, now in its sec- ond year, features fifteen burros and their handlers racing through a course with such obstacles as a water crossing and swinging saloon doors. Afterward, the burros are staged on Grand Avenue where artists assigned to each burro demonstrate their craft in real time.

Some of the artists scheduled to appear are mean everyone, seems to love burros!” said Good- Mancos Common Press, the Town of Mancos, the Samantha Combs, Lille Diane, Brad Goodell, Veryl night. “The BurroFest combines local mining history Mancos Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Mancos Goodnight, Miki Harder, Elizabeth Kinahan, Karen of the past with the abundance of creative talent liv- Valley Historical Society, the Mancos Public Library Kristin, Susan Matteson, Jan Wright, and TJ Zark. ing in the area today.” District, Mancos School of the West, Mancos Val- Goodnight, a local sculptor and painter, will have ley Resources, Mount Lookout Grange, the Mancos a burro form in progress and will let folks get some In 2014, citizens of Mancos worked with Colo- school district, and numerous local galleries and clay on their hands and help sculpt. Goodnight is best rado Creative Industries through the Colorado Office restaurants. One of the District’s marquee projects is known for her sculpture, “The Day the Wall Came of Economic Development & International Trade to the Mancos School of the West, where local artists Down,” a tribute to the fall of the Berlin Wall. She become a certified Creative District. The Colorado offer classes and workshops in a variety of mediums duplicated the piece; one is located at the George Creative Districts program certifies communities that from their home studios or in the outdoors. Bush Presidential Library, the other, a gift from the contribute to the state’s economy through creativity, United States, is located at Clayallee, near the Allied culture, and the arts. The program helps communi- COVID protocols will be in place for public safety Museum in the former American sector of Berlin. ties increase jobs, incomes, and investments in cre- during the 2021 Mancos BurroFest. For more infor- Each sculpture weighs an incredible seven tons and ative places—which Mancos most assuredly is. The mation on the upcoming BurroFest and the Mancos measures 30 feet long by 18 feet wide by 12 feet high. Mancos Creative District is a partnership between the Creative District visit The historic Mancos Common Press right there on Grand Avenue will let visitors print a card to take home from old-timey “lino blocks” crafted by re- nowned local artist and illustrator, Brad Goodell, whose spectacular 510-square-foot mural, “Yes- terday’s News,” graces the Mancos Common Press building. The Press is a 1900s newspaper shop hous- ing the Cranston Newspaper Press, a “single-revolu- tion big-cylinder drum” newspaper press, built in the late 1800s, and one of only a handful still in operation today. The newspaper shop has been restored as an educational print studio and doubles as a museum, newspaper archive, and repository for artifacts. Betsy Harrison of the Mancos Creative District said that the group had been looking for an annual signature event and found it in the 2019 Mancos BurroFest. “The event generated lots of fun and ex- citement downtown, especially with all of the burros,” said Betsy. “It also showcased local artists who had the opportunity to demonstrate their craft in public view.” Event coordinator Veryl Goodnight said that the 2019 BurroFest was one of the most heralded events held in Mancos in recent times. “Everyone, and I do SaJn uan Skyway Visitor Guide - Summer/Fall 2021 33

Cortez PHOTOS BY MESA VERDE COUNTRY TOURISM OFFICE CORTEZ IS THE MOST ANCIENT STOP YOU’LL MAKE ON THE SAN JUAN SKYWAY TOUR— MONTEZUMA COUNTY HAS BEEN SETTLED SINCE APPROXIMATELY A.D. 600 WHEN ABOUT 100,000 PUEBLO INDIANS MADE THIS AREA THEIR HOME. Today you can explore the archaeology of the first settlers as well as the arts and culture that still bears their imprint. Cortez also has great networks of mountain biking trails, hiking trails and terrific fishing. The cowboy culture from more recent eras is still alive and well, and you can experience it firsthand at the Ute Mountain Roundup Rodeo, the 91st annual event and a professionally sanctioned rodeo. The region also offers agritourism opportunities, where you can see dryland beans such as the unique old cultivar Anasazi bean or visit some of the lovely modern wineries in the McElmo Canyon and Montezuma Valley. 34 SaJn uan Skyway Visitor Guide - Summer/Fall 2021

ACCALITMGHIETORS,AN, Local writer and director film TV pilot in Montezuma County Photos by Devon Wycoff I t’s not too unusual for the television and film industry to seek out locations in the West, but that wasn’t the case with this project. “Badwater” is actually a product of its setting, as the co-producers—writer Chuck Greaves and director Félix Alcalá—both reside in Montezuma County. The two were introduced by a mutual friend in Alcalá is a director, producer, and cinematog- 2019 and had an immediate connection. “We really rapher whose television credits include episodes hit it off,” said Greaves, “and we hatched the idea of of ER, Third Watch, The Shield, Criminal Minds, trying to do something together. I wrote a treatment Battlestar Galactica, Breaking Bad, The Good Wife, for a TV series about a fictional town (Badwater) that SouthLAnd, Blue Bloods, The Good Fight, and Mad- we could film in Cortez and Mancos. It’s sort of a am Secretary. He is a recipient of the 2001 ALMA neo-Western crime/noir drama.” Award for Outstanding Director of a Drama Series and has been nominated for the Primetime Emmy, Greaves and Alcalá make a formidable team. ALMA, ASC, DGA, and Hugo Awards for his direc- Greaves is a screenwriter and the author of six nov- torial work. els, including Tom & Lucky, which was a Wall Street Journal “Best Books of 2015” selection and a finalist Developing a series typically means partner- for the 2016 Harper Lee Prize—and he has been a ing with a production company and a studio—this finalist for most of the major awards for crime fiction, brings money to the project, but it can also dilute as well as the New Mexico-Arizona, Oklahoma, and creative control for the writer or director. Greaves Colorado Book Awards. and Alcalá took an alternate route: They raised 36 SaJn uan Skyway Visitor Guide - Summer/Fall 2021

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THE NARRATIVE PAYS HOMAGE TO THE DIVERSITY OF THE CULTURE IN THIS REGION—IT BEGINS WITH THE DISAPPEARANCE OF A LOCAL NATIVE AMERICAN SCHOOL GIRL, AND THE MAIN CHARACTERS INCLUDE A SHERIFF, COUNTY COMMISSIONERS, A JUDGE, A LATINO DA, AN INDIGENOUS RIGHTS ACTIVIST, AND A NEWS REPORTER. more than $600,000 in investment capital, took ad- ty. “The only casting we did in L.A. were the starring very familiar to local viewers. Although some of the vantage of Colorado’s film incentive rebate program, roles. We held an open casting call in Mancos in Ute reservation lands were closed due to the pandem- and filmed the pilot episode themselves in Montezu- July, where we auditioned for smaller roles,” said ic, the producers were able to find similar spots to ma County in October 2020. Once post-production is Greaves. “We had six locals in speaking parts and film, and got permission to shoot in the Montezuma finished, they will shop it directly to distributors. “It’s more than 100 background actors, plus a lot of the County Courthouse, the Columbine Bar in Mancos, the very unusual, but that’s what we decided to do,” said crew—camera operators and assistants were local; Mancos High School, and the Angel’s End Zone sports Greaves. “If we succeed, it will provide a tremendous more than fifty percent of our cast and crew were bar in Cortez. Ideally, the pilot will turn into a series economic stimulus for the community.” Colorado residents.” and provide hundreds of jobs for locals. One of the main goals for “Badwater” is to bene- Filming during a pandemic presented its own set Eventually Greaves and Alcalá hope to incorporate fit the community. The narrative pays homage to the of challenges. The SAG (Screen Actors Guild) guide- an educational element to train local people interested diversity of the culture in this region—it begins with lines were very stringent—522 COVID-19 tests were in the industry. The intent of the project was to give the disappearance of a local Native American school conducted, sets were closed, temperatures were taken something back to the community, and the pair was girl, and the main characters include a sheriff, county every morning, everyone wore color-coded wrist- humbled by the way the project was embraced locally. commissioners, a judge, a Latino DA, an Indigenous bands, and N95 and surgical masks were used except “The whole community was supportive,” said Greaves. rights activist, and a news reporter. The production during the actual shooting. “It was an amazing process.” also provided work for many people in the communi- When the show does get picked up, it will feel 38 SaJn uan Skyway Visitor Guide - Summer/Fall 2021

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Dolores MESA VERDE COUNTRY TOURISM OFFICE DOLORES HAS A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING THAT MAKES A WESTERN TOWN GREAT: HISTORY, CULTURE, AND OUTDOOR RECREATION. There is incredible fishing, boating, and waterskiing on McPhee Reservoir (the second largest body of water in the state), and other water sports on the local lakes and rivers. Hiking, camping and mountain biking abound in the surrounding San Juan National Forest. The Anasazi Heritage Center is a fun, interactive museum devoted to the history of the ancient cultures of Pueblo, Ute, and Navajo Native Americans, and has two 12th century pueblo ruins on site. Dolores has an exact replica of an original train depot and a Rio Grande Southern Railroad Museum and a restored Galloping Goose car. Escalante Days is the region’s celebration of its historic Dolores River Valleys, where the Dominguez-Escalante expedition camped in 1776 and mapped and logged the first record of the lands and people in what would become Colorado and Utah. 40 SaJn uan Skyway Visitor Guide - Summer/Fall 2021

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Rico RICO WAS FIRST SETTLED AS A MINING TOWN IN 1879. At its peak, the silver-mining community had a population of nearly 5,000 and was a stop on the Rio Grande Southern railroad with almost two dozen saloons and a thriving red light district. The Rico Historical Museum, located in the historic firehouse building, documents the town’s storied past. Today, the town’s residents seek other types of treasure—vast miles of recreational trails. Routes range from short loops to multi-day backcountry adventures, and visitors can access the Colorado Trail from town. A haven for mountain biking, Rico also boasts a free public bike repair station and tire pump. FLICKR/GRANGERMEADOR 42 SaJn uan Skyway Visitor Guide - Summer/Fall 2021

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GIDDY UP Rico to repurpose historic trails for biking and hiking By Deanna Drew | Photos by Alisia Klimasewiski

Climb to the top of any mountain around the little town of Rico and you will find the same view: alpine peaks, high desert mesas, and verdant valleys stretching as far as the eye can see. Settled in the late 1800s, this small min- ing town was carved out of the surrounding San Juan National Forest by lumberjacks and pioneer prospectors who scoured Rico hillsides in search of mineral wealth. Rico’s rich miner- al deposits rivaled those of more well-known Colorado mining towns, however its remote location and isolation deep in the heart of the forest prevented it from achieving similar fame and fortune. In the old days, travel between Rico’s Pio- neer Mining District to other mining camps and faraway towns in the San Juan Mining Region was by way of wagon roads, stagecoach routes, and foot trails that emanated in all directions. The people of Rico traveled by coach or horse- back, while pack mules, oxen, or draft horses slowly and arduously hauled essentials for the town and mines over narrow mountain roads and rickety timber bridges. But after the Rico mines shut down, the once-busy routes through the forest became unused and overgrown with alpine vegetation. Now, the Rico community is bringing life back to the old forest routes, with hope that rehabili- tating these historic trails will help to stimulate the town’s new recreation tourism economy and support the town’s businesses. “These trails need a lot of love,” says Alex Wing, President of the Rico Trails Alliance (RTA), a nonprofit volun- teer group on a mission to improve public trails around Rico for non-motorized recreational uses including hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Wing says there are funding mechanisms for maintaining motorized trails that don’t exist for non-motorized routes, and over time parts of the trails have become unusable. “Hunters and motorized trail users pay fees, but non-motor- ized users don’t,” Wing explains. “Our focus is to be a mechanism for funding non-motorized trail work around town.” SaJn uan Skyway Visitor Guide - Summer/Fall 2021 45

Using volunteers, community dona- THE CIRCLE TRAIL APPEARS ON MAPS deliver ore and supplies to the commu- tions, and grant funding, RTA has been nity. From the railroad’s north terminus approved to upgrade at least two trails on DATING BACK TO 1881 AS A SHEEPHERDING at Ridgway over the mountains to its the National Forest around Rico to im- south terminus at Durango, eventually prove connectivity to regional trail sys- ROUTE CONNECTING RICO TO SILVERTON AND this critical route through the mountains tems and provide the town and its visitors OTHER MINING CAMPS AND TOWNS IN of southwestern Colorado was replaced a variety of diverse trails for non-motor- THE SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS. with Highway 145. ized activities. RTA is working with Rico officials The Circle Trail appears on maps and the Forest Service to rebuild the seg- dating back to 1881 as a sheepherding ment of the RGS railroad’s route through route connecting Rico to Silverton and Rico into a four-mile-long, family friendly other mining camps and towns in the San trail that would parallel Highway 145 and Juan Mountains. This primitive, narrow single-track bikes, horses, and hunters. Visitors should note the highlight historic areas and unique structures in town trail sets out from the east edge of town and after three Ryman Trail is closed to all travel from May to June related to the railroad. Eventually, this trail segment miles connects with the Colorado Trail, one of the 30 of each year for elk calving. This trail can be com- could connect to a car-free, regional trail system that nation’s premier long distance hiking trails. With an bined with the nearby Salt Creek Trail in the downhill would follow the RGS route all the way from Telluride average elevation of 10,000 feet, the Colorado Trail is direction to form a loop route that starts and ends at to Dolores and include the existing twenty-one-mile a rugged, 500-mile footpath that runs between Denver Highway 145. “These trails will help support Rico’s Galloping Goose trail near Lizard Head Pass. and Durango and attracts hearty backpackers, bikers, economy by enhancing recreational opportunities in Rice says while there are still a lot of issues to and horseback riders from around the world. Because and near Town,” says Tom Rice, Recreation Program work through before approving the RGS trail, including it is so steep, it’s best to hike the Circle Trail in the Manager for the San Juan National Forest. “Rico has private property boundaries, environmental impacts, uphill direction from Rico, or bike downhill from the been a good partner and we will work with them as and protecting cultural artifacts, the Forest Service en- Colorado Trail to Rico. long as they continue to work with us.” joys the trails partnership and is committed to working And, a reroute of the Ryman Trail singletrack south The Rio Grande Southern narrow-gauge rail- with the town. “We have a long history with Rico, and of Rico will provide a more uphill friendly, moderate- road line was built from Telluride over Lizard Head the Rico Trails Alliance is one of the ways to get a lot ly difficult access to the Colorado Trail for mountain Pass into Rico in 1891 as a more efficient way to of good work done.” 46 SaJn uan Skyway Visitor Guide - Summer/Fall 2021

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Telluride GARY RATCLIFF TELLURIDE IS ONE OF THE MOST STRIKINGLY BEAUTIFUL PLACES YOU WILL EVER SEE; IT IS ALSO KNOWN AS THE “FESTIVAL CAPITAL OF THE ROCKIES” BECAUSE OF ITS VAST ARRAY OF CULTURAL EVENTS EACH SUMMER. Like many of these Western towns, Telluride started out as a mining community but earned renown for its skiing and mountaineering. Today visitors can climb the acclaimed Via Ferrata route high above town or to the top of Bridal Veil Falls (the state’s tallest waterfall), see a Grammy-award winning musician in Town Park, catch a free ride up on the gondola and hike around or zip back to town on one of the downhill mountain biking courses, eat at one of the top- rated restaurants in the country, or even watch a world premiere of a new movie at one of the film festivals. There are galleries to stroll, classes to take, and rivers and trails to explore, and don’t miss the Telluride Historical Museum, which hosts unique exhibits, indoors and outdoors. 48 SaJn uan Skyway Visitor Guide - Summer/Fall 2021

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UPSHOT BEAVER SELFIE Beavers in Telluride may be busy building dams, but they’re never too busy to pose in front of the lens. And this Castor canadensis does not seem camera shy. Photo by Michael Mowery 50 SaJn uan Skyway Visitor Guide - Summer/Fall 2021

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