Better late than never, I suppose. I took this trip on May 28th and today is June 10th. Ouray (Colorado) County Road 7 is open all the way to the Blue Lakes Trailhead, though do watch for ruts.
County Road 7 is reached by traveling west from Ridgway, Colorado, on Colorado Highway 62. County Road 7 takes off to the south right where the highway crosses Dallas Creek—near a rather famous old red barn.
The GPS track, in blue on the map on the left, winds south. At first it travels through ranch land, including several miles through private property (stay on the road!). There’s a fork—the left hand fork is County Road 7A—stay to the right to continue on County Road 7. Note several sharp switchbacks. The road is fairly well traveled, but I did find a few ruts—just keep an eye open for them. The road winds up and up and up, with the views becoming better with every mile. You’re heading almost directly at Mt. Sneffels. After several miles you will pass the National Forest boundary (seen on the map as the thick, bluish, transparent line just below Willow Swamp). The road quality degrades here and if wet can become difficult. Fortunately, I was there on a delightfully dry and sunny Friday, May 28, 2010.
The track was collected with my DeLorme PN-40 GPS and the little map snippet comes via DeLorme Topo USA 8. It took an excellent track. All the wiggling at the bottom is from traveling through numerous camping spots, plus a bit of a side road to the northwest that leads to a different trailhead.
I’ll make a parenthetical mention of the fork to the east, County Road 7A. This travels entirely through ranch land and has some good views of its own. It ends at a locked gate where the blue track stops.
The south end of County Road 7 offers ample primitive camp sites and it’s clear the area is designed with both people and horses in mind. On the day I arrived I met only one camper, but that was the Friday morning before Memorial Day. I would imagine it’s a popular hangout now that we’re officially into the tourist season.
The views along the road are none too shabby either, as the photo above indicates. See a bit of video I took at this location on May 8th here. On May 8th the road wasn’t open all the way to the end.
It should be noted there’s more than one trailhead around. The Blue Lakes trailhead is at the very south on the map. You see the GPS track jog to the west—it ends at another trailhead. I believe there are others around.
I’ve always got my eye open for wildflowers, now breaking out in profusion everywhere! Here’s a little blue jobbie that looks a lot like a blue bell.
Now that a rather wet spring seems behind us, I expect more wildflowers everywhere. I’m told the roads to the high country are opening, so that’s where I’ll head next.