Gary Garren and I did quite the grand tour today, covering three roads here in Ouray County, Colorado. County Roads 5, 7, and 9 have in common that they end right at the very feet of the Sneffels Range with beautiful views. This was Gary’s first ride with his new (to him) Kawasaki 250cc dirt bike. We started with CR 5, which takes off from right in Ridgway. It’s fairly standard gravel road for several miles until where the interesting part starts (see map), which is the part that’s not maintained in winter. It winds through some truly beautiful country and has stunning views of Mt. Sneffels and the eastern half of the Sneffels Range. CR 5 alternately winds through trees and through open meadow. This is a great place for fall color.
CR 7 (see GPS track below) takes off south from Colorado Highway 62 a few miles west of Ridgway, right where the highway crosses Dallas Creek. The first several miles are ordinary gravel road, but the higher you go, the more spectacular the views. The first view encountered is a lovely lake, shown below. Please note that this lake is on private property and should be photographed from the road.
The closer you get to the mountains, the more spectacular the views. What we found interesting is that there are quite a considerable number of primitive campsites near the top (the south end), but no one there! The road is in good shape and one could get a small motorhome or trailer up here. A key feature at the very southern tip of CR 7 is the Blue Lakes Trailhead. I’ve always considered it off limit to motorcycles. Well, we ate lunch at the trailhead and I wandered up to the Forest Service sign. Lo and behold, it’s the trailhead for two trails. One of them, Dallas Trail 200, is open to motorcycles and ATVs! (The other one, the true Blue Lakes trail, is open only to hiking.) Needless to say, we headed up Dallas Trail. We got partway up when we encountered logs fallen across the trail. I was able to get around them and explored a little further, at one point finding that the creek and the trail were the same thing. Definitely this trail bears investigating! According to the Forest Service map, it travels all the way to CR 5. (Note that Dallas Trail to the west is not open to motorcycles.)
We finished with a trip up Ouray CR 9, which transits Ralph Lauren’s beautiful cattle ranch. The views along this road are beautiful everywhere. The final creek just before getting to Box Factory Park is amazingly fordable—last year I didn’t even attempt it until August—this year it’s a pussycat. We admired the views for a bit and then headed back down the hill.
Last but not least, here is the GPS track for all three roads, taken today.