San Juan Skyway: Day 4: Durango to Ridgway (6/5/13)

As many of you know, we have an exciting trip coming up in a few days. In an effort to get you in the habit of checking our blog, we dug up an old, dusty notebook from 2013 and typed out journal entries from our four-day bike trip around the gorgeous San Juan Skyway in Colorado.

We woke up early to eat breakfast before catching the train. There was a super delicious bagel place next to the train station and we got fresh baked bagel sandwiches. Delicious.


We got on the platform and took our bikes to the cargo hold. One of the conductors was really into biking (biked the Iron Horse, a race from Durango to Silverton where you try to beat the narrow gauge train, several times), so he was super helpful with our bikes. We got on the train and sat in the open car next to a sweet couple from Oakland. They were on an old person traveling tour called Road Scholars (they seemed super out of place). The people on our other side were from Louisville and on vacation with their kids. Both sets of people were very interested in our bike trip. The train went through the Durango suburbs, then some fields, then went up through the gorgeous canyon that’s only accessible by train. There is a hydro-electric plant and a guesthouse/ziplining situation that are only accessible by the train. We also passed a place called Needleton with a few vacation homes that I believe are also only accessible by the train. When we were passing through the fields part of a journey, there was a guy in very fancy biking clothes with several panniers as well as an extra wheel with more panniers who was actually riding faster than the train! No helmet, though. 😦


The ride up the canyon was absolutely spectacular. Took so many pictures. Just breathtakingly gorgeous. Apparently there was a recent rock slide that trapped the train in Silverton for the night and they had to bus 500 people back.


We got off the train in Silverton, which is an absolutely gorgeous old west-y town surrounded by mountains with old west architecture and people. Someone recommended we go to Avalanche Café and Brewery, but they were closed. They recommended that we go to Mattie and Maude’s Café. We had frito pie, smothered cheeseburger on fry bread, and a bowl of potato, bacon, and cheese soup. The lady who worked there (Lori) was super friendly and very worried about our climb up the pass, which in turn made me nervous about our ride.


We left around 2:10 to climb up our last pass. Teddy’s knee started hurting almost immediately, but he pushed through and made it to the top. The ride was gorgeous on the way up. When we got about one mile from the top, there was a CDOT guy waiting for us ringing a cowbell to encourage us. So cute!


The million-dollar highway was scary at times, due to a nonexistent shoulder and the road actually chipping off and falling off the massive cliff that we climbed past. I had to debate whether I was more likely to fall of the shoulder by staying close, or more likely to get hit by a car if I rode in the middle of the lane. I rode in the middle of the lane.


At the top, a friendly man took our picture and told us about a community science project studying pikas. Apparently there’s a massive colony on the pass.


We started our huge, gorgeous descent, but there was nowhere to stop to take pictures until we were past the prettiest part, but it was incredible.


We got to a sign that “Ouray is Switzerland of America” and I got off the road to take a photo, but almost got hit by a pickup truck, so I turned too quickly and fell. He didn’t even stop to ask if I was okay. At least I didn’t get hit, but that’s a super dangerous place to stop—totally blind corner!


Ouray is an adorable little mountain town that looks like a Swiss village. So cute. We decided to power through the last 10 miles to Ridgeway. It was a tough 10 miles because we were booking it and it wasn’t downhill like we thought and the wind was crazy, but we made it in 25 minutes. We checked into our hotel room, showered, and went out for surprisingly delicious Thai food! We then went straight to the hotel and basically passed out.

Days five and six were not on bikes; we did some backtracking to explore some hot springs and Telluride. On day five, we woke up around 8:30 and went to breakfast at Kate’s Diner. It was delicious. Then we went to Orvis hot springs. So. Good. Gorgeous natural springs, not too crowded. It was an oasis! We ended up spending the whole day there, with a brief interlude to go to Ouray Brewery for lunch and beer then Mouse’s Chocolates for ice cream and chocolate.

They had free tea at the hot springs from Montana Tea and Spice Trading – so delicious! My favorites were the Night on Glacier Bay, Huckleberry something, and something about early light. The springs were more crowded when we returned, but still amazing. We sat in the cold pool (89 degrees) for a bit to escape the 102 degree pool. There was also a nice waterfall area with a freezing cold waterfall that we monopolized for a bit before heading to the 110-degree lobster pool. It was so hot that I couldn’t even fully get in, but Teddy did. After trying another pool, we headed for Telluride, settled into our hotel, then had wings and Detroit Square Pizza at Brown Dog Pizza. We went for a quick hike in Telluride, got lunch, then drove home to Denver. This was such a lovely trip! This part of Colorado is so lush and relatively undeveloped – very different from the front range.

One thought on “San Juan Skyway: Day 4: Durango to Ridgway (6/5/13)

  1. Thanks to you both for bringing me back into your stories! Dani I hope you are feeling better and I am so excited for you both and your upcoming adventure! Luv u both Dani and Ted,

    Uncle Casey

    Sent from my iPad



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