Starting the Coronado Trail just south of Alpine.
Scenic stop along the Million Mile Highway or Highway 550
between Durgango and Ouray, Colorado. Though the entire stretch has been called the "Million Dollar Highway", it is really the twelve miles south of Ouray through the Uncompahgre Gorge to the summit of Red Mountain Pass which gains the highway its name. The stunning road turns and twists an provides ample views of the Rocky Mountains.
Red Mountain Pass on the Million Mile Highway. The name is derived from the iron oxide laden rock that forms their slopes. The pass separates the Uncompahgre and Las Animas River watersheds. This specific signs stands at around 11,000 feet. The FZ09 in A power mode was the perfect setting to compensate for the lack of oxygen.
Red Mountain Pass plaque.
The Alpine Loop in Colorado.
This road is best left to 4 wheel drive style jeeps or a dual-sport specfici motorcycle like a Kawasaki KLR. The Alpine Loop byway navigates between the summits of the Rockies by way of two mountain passes. Engineer Pass, to the north, rises 12,000 feet and provides an unsurpassed vantage point for photographs of Uncompahagre and Wetterhorn peaks — both towering more than 14,000 feet high. On the more southern route, Cinnamon Pass also tops out at 12,000 feet and provides views of three of the nation's highest mountains — Handies, Sunshine and Redcloud peaks. It is about 65 miles in length and generally takes 5-8 hours to navigate due to the rough terrain.
A inspiring view on Highway 550 just outside of Ouray, Colorado.
Looking down from Highway 550 on the small town of Ouray. This is a great Colorado town to base your various activities from including hiking, fishing, dual-sporting or 4W driving.
Established in the late 1870s during gold and silver strikes, Ouray survived those boom-and-bust days because it's such a wonderful place to relax. Natural hot springs feed the town pool, where both locals and visitors come to soak in the therapeutic waters. It's said that Chief Ouray, the Ute Indian after whom the town is named, visited the pool often and held ceremonies in the local vapor cave.
Highway 550 just a few miles outside the city limits of Ouray.
The infamous and treacherous Black Bear Pass. Legend has it Forest Service Road 648, known as “Black Bear Pass,” was cut into the Rocky Mountains in the late 1800s by prospectors brave or crazy enough to go anywhere for gold. Fast forward a century and it’s one of the most incredible routes to explore in a 4x4 or a beefy dual-sport motorcycle.
It is still not too late to turn around.
After Black Bear Pass, I chose a more mild dirt path.
...however that rocky road soon ended.
At first, I thought this structure located just outside of Durango on Highway 550 was a movie set The Blob, however it is called the Pinkerton Hot Springs. While the rock pile is all passersby see now, Pinkerton has a history dating back to the early 1800s, when James Harvey Pinkerton turned the hot springs into a travel destination. Hot springs, including Pinkerton, were thought to have healing powers in the 1800s. People bathed in the springs, drank the water and looked for a cure to aches and pains.
Another view of the Pinkerton Hot Springs.
A quick hike up Purgatory Ski Mountain yields stunning vistas.
A view of Puragotory sans Dante Alighieri...
The hike continues @ the Colorado Rockies.
Just outside of Taos, New Mexico, I expected the song Magic Bus to start blaring over the speakers from this contraption. Nope, just a great place to drink coffee in an eclectic environment near the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge along Highway 64.
The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge just outside of Taos, New Mexico. Soon after this picture was taken, heavy rain and lightning swooped down as you can see in the distance the storm brewing.
This bridge is I believe the second highest bridge on the U.S. Highway System. The bridge is a three-span steel continuous-deck-truss structure with a concrete-filled steel-grid deck. It was called the "bridge to nowhere" while it was being built because the funding did not exist to continue the road on the other side. The bridge was completed during the Johnson Administration in 1965.
The Japanese iron mule meets the western horse in a shootout at the not so OK corral. It was a draw.
The Cimarron Canyon State Park is a state park of New Mexico located 3 miles east of Eagle Nest in the Colin Neblett Wildlife Area. That burned tree on the left was probably struck by lighting.
Water wheel used to create steam power in the 19th. century near Eagle's Nest.
The first commercial prototype of the mobile home near Eagle's Nest.
The first memorial and the only State Park in the United States dedicated to Vietnam Veterans, this internationally renowned chapel and visitor center are devoted to remembering our vets, providing educational opportunities for the public and maintaining a haven for healing and reconciliation.
The Memorial is located on Hwy 64 less than a mile from Angel Fire
, overlooking the Moreno Valley.
Another view inside the Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park. A bronze status shows a soldier looking intently at the Huey helicopter during perhaps the Battle of Con Thien
An old grain milling barn in search of money for restoration near Mora, New Mexico.
Sign for the Saint Vrain Mill and Preservation and Historical Foundation. Save The Mill!
Pressed a button and toggled to the black and white mode for the same barn.
An abadoned bar just outside of Taos, New Mexico on Highway 518.
A gorgeous hike in the Wheeler Peak Wilderness Area near Taos yields amazing views. Even though there is elevation gain up to the lake, the trail is relatively easy. Williams Lake Trail begins near the Phoenix Grill at Taos Ski Valley.
If you are in decent shape and want even more spectacular views, go the additional 1.5 miles from the east side of the lake up the switchbacks through the boulder field to the 13,161 ft summit of Wheeler Peak.
Getting closer to Wheeler Peak.
Almost at the top, but with the changing weather conditions, I turned around.
The Río Grande del Norte National Monument is comprised of rugged, wide open plains at an average elevation of 7,000 feet, dotted by volcanic cones, and cut by steep canyons with rivers tucked away in their depths. The Río Grande carves an 800 foot deep gorge through layers of volcanic basalt flows and ash. Among the volcanic cones in the Monument, Ute Mountain is the highest, reaching to 10,093 feet. The road goes along the ridge of the canyon for almost ten miles. It is located near Questa, New Mexico. This is one of the newest National Parks established by presidential proclamation in 2013. The park is about 250,000 acres in size.