It is hard to believe when driving some of the four wheel drive roads, that they all once led to thriving communities. High above timberline, the area around Black Bear Pass once housed hundreds of miners, toiling in the earth in the hopes of making it rich. Some of the stories around these old mines are faded memories, which allows us to create an imaginary world of what it must have been like to live year-round in places we can only access a few months out of the year.
Taking a new path today, we found a treasure chest of beauty in the high country. Just a few switch backs in, we were surprised to find a flock of sheep with their shepherd and dogs crowding the road. Talk about a Colorado traffic jam! Those sheep dogs are pretty adamant about keeping people away from their flock!
The adventure continued as we traversed tight switchbacks in four low. Off in the distance, a train of jeeps ascended Black Bear Pass, as we looked to our own destination. Pulling into a little parking area, we jumped out of the jeep, eager to follow a hiking trail, following a stream and a rainbow of wildflowers. We didn’t go far, stopping in wonder at the awesome view before us.
Descending the trail, we weren’t ready yet for the adventure to be over, so crossed the highway, travelling back toward Ouray via Yankee Girl Mine. Monsoon season is finally upon us, so despite the fact that just the other day, we had drivien this trail, everything was different…..yet another amazing thing about the area.
Abandoned in the late 1950’s, early 1960’s, it never ceases to inspire respect for Mother Nature, as she takes these mines and buildings back. Yet again, it is impossible not to wonder what it must have taken to reside in the unforgiving high country. Standing at the ruins of these old mines, surrounded by the absolute serenity of mountains and rivers, time stands still for a moment.
Regardless of your level of experience in jeeping, there is no end to the trails to explore. Ever changing, the same road seems to lead to a new discovery each time it is explored. Pictures can give an idea to the onlooker, but nothing can compare to standing in history.
Let the staff at the Box Canyon Ldge & Hot Springs help you plan the perfect adventure! At the end of the day, soak in our all natural hot springs and relax as you delight in the beauty of Ouray.