As the title implies, this is a continuation of the previous post. The photos in this post are a combination of iPhone and DSLR photos and were taken while traversing these 4 wheel drive roads: Imogene Pass, Engineer Pass, California Pass and maybe others. (I neglected to take notes of where we were each day and I can’t positively identify the location of some of the photos that I acquired and I am not using a GPS device on my current camera. This is an issue that I must address in the future).
A typical view that one sees along these roads in the higher elevations is as shown here:
We traveled Imogene Pass Road from the Ouray side, accessing it from US 550, splitting off from the road that goes to Yankee Boy Basin (covered in a previous post). Imogen Pass is the second highest mountain pass in Colorado at 13, 114 feet. It is rated as moderate, which means that only suitably equipped 4 wheel drive vehicles should attempt this road. There are Jeep rentals in the local area and we saw many of the rental vehicles on this road, as well as some specialized tour vehicles with seating for passengers in a flat bed area. Those tour vehicles looked a bit large for these type roads, but apparently their drivers are experienced in driving these roads. The seating in the tour vehicles appeared to all be in the open, meaning one might get wet and cold, when caught in one of the frequent mountain showers, if not properly prepared for the weather. Views along the road can be spectacular. These two photos show the view looking back down the road that we traveled up to the pass:
A view in the opposite direction, in which we would continue is shown in this photo:
As along most of these roads, there are numerous abandoned mine sites. The Imogene Pass road goes through the large Tomboy mine site, which was a really large operation, before it was abandoned in 1928. The remains of the buildings cover a rather large area and one could spend quite a bit of time wandering around the site. However, these abandoned mining areas can be dangerous and nearly all are on private property with warning signs not to enter old mines or buildings. Tomboy is one of the highest ghost towns in the US. There was a store, school, living quarters for miners and even a YMCA.
One can often see views of other mountain roads from these high mountain roadways. One of the famously difficult 4 wheel drive roads is Black Bear, which has numerous sharp switchbacks, that typically require at least two point turns, even for short wheel base vehicles. We got a glimpse of Black Bear as we neared Telluride on the way down from Imogene Pass.
This is not a great photo, a big zoom would have worked better for showing the details of the switchbacks, but I only had a wide angle with me. Look closely in the green area just below the peak about one third across the photo from the left and you can see the trace of the roadway down the steep mountainside. There is also a long waterfall almost in the center of the photo in the cliff face. One has to look very closely to see the waterfall in this photo.
To drive Engineer Pass, we began just off of US 550 between Ouray and Silverton. This road is rated as moderate and I think most of the difficult part is near the starting point off of US 550. After passing through that portion, much of the road is fairly easy (easy for me, since I was not driving). We did not continue the road down into Lake City, electing to go to the ghost town of Animas Forks and continuing along other roads from Animas Forks, over California Pass, down Corkscrew Gulch and arriving back at US 550.
Animas Forks is a mining ghost town near Silverton, Colorado. It can be accessed by a passenger vehicle in the summer months along County Road 2 from Silverton or via a number of other 4 wheel drive roads. There are a number of fairly well preserved building at this site and, as you will see in these photos, is a popular site to visit.
From Animas Forks, we proceeded along another 4 wheel drive road to California Pass.
We continued along the road that passes to the left of the lake in the above photo. The road to the right of the lake goes to another much more difficult 4 wheel drive road.
We continued back to US 550 on Corkscrew 4 wheel drive, but I did not get any interesting photos along that route.
This marks the end of my July trip to Colorado. The following photos are a few iPhone shots that I took on the route back home.