Making our way to Ouray, Colorado
Updated: Aug 26, 2021
Driving to Ouray, Co is only 5.5 to 6 hours – IN A CAR.
In an RV, especially a big rig….. the few miles on the Million Dollar Highway on 550 from Silverton to Ouray can be quite the challenge.
We went over many routes to enter our next stop on the Lewis and Clark 2021 Tour.
I asked for advice on numerous Facebook RV groups, called the resort in Ouray for ideas, called friends I trusted that had visited. The “other” routes added 1.5-2 hours driving time. We selected the more northern route. Taking 285 north toward Saguache, CO, then head toward Ridgeway, CO - this is how you need to enter Ouray on 550. The route takes you from 285 to 114 which directs you toward Gunnison, Co. You then jump on 50, which will lead you to 550 and Ridgeway. Once you hit Ridgeway, you are within 10 miles to Ouray. I am SO glad we did this – the views along 114 were simply magical. Rushing rivers, green meadows, gorgeous Aspen trees. I loved it. We passed thru the Rio Grande National Forest and Gunnison National Forest.
We kept wanting to stop and let the dogs walk around a bit, and dip our toes in the creek.
There were many places to pull off… but when you travel with a former NASCAR driver… you normally pass the perfect stopping point before really “seeing” it. Insert my sarcasm.
It could have been a blessing in disguise. Our travel partners, Tom and Laura, did stop to let the dogs out for a bit and grab a snack. As they walked back into their bus – and thankfully locked the door – a truck pulled up alongside them and parked in a strange manner. Almost trying to block them. An erratic woman kept telling Laura to open the door. Laura did not open the door thankfully – and the woman kept yelling if she had seen the flash floods. The area had been in a drought, so NO, Laura was not buying into that discussion. Apparently, the lady kept on and on, getting more and more agitated, as the male driver just sat in the car staring at a blank navigation screen. We all assumed they were trying to rob them. Be careful in this area, as the phone service is zero and these folks knew it. We do have a conceal carry weapon license and travel with our gun for this very reason. You never want to use it, but you also don’t want to be taken hostage or robbed at gunpoint. When Laura told Tom to get their gun because the woman would not leave them alone or move their truck – she left in a haste.
Some dear RV friends suggested we get a satellite phone for our trip. I laughed. Now, I am not laughing at that idea, especially when traveling in the mountains and high plain desert.
As for Mike & me... once on 50, we were just amazed by the majestic views on both sides. The Curecanti National Recreation Areas were constant and just begging us to stop and enjoy what it had to offer for one night. I sure wish we would have done this….next time for sure!
There were tons of places to camp for the night, with large areas to pull in and take in the grand vistas. Some of the parks and signs I noted were: Stevens Creek Recreation Area, Blue Mesa which looked to be a large recreation ranch, Dry Creek and Elk Creek Recreations areas also looked inviting.
We were so close to making that turn onto 550 and close to our next stop. Ouray RV and Cabins Resort. Then… BOOM. 50 was closed. I am NOT kidding. The detour was a road that the lady working the traffic suggested we not take our large 45 foot buses on. She was a blessing, she told us to go on thru, but warned we would be stopped at the construction barrier. Work would continue to 5:00 or 5:30pm, then the road would open back up. It was 2pm.
We settled in at our little forced stop, just behind a logging truck. Ok... Time to have a snack – let the dogs roam. Three hours (& a glass or two of wine for me!) later... The road opened back up and we were on our way.
We pulled into Ouray RV and Cabins Resort around 7pm. Our spots were ready and easy to pull into – and we had river front parking. YES!
The café on-site was suggested for dinner – and we were ready to indulge.
Ouray is special. I am not exaggerating. An RV friend had suggested we visit a couple years ago, and it’s been on my to do list ever since. I am so glad we made the trek to this gem of a town. It’s nestled in the mountains perfectly. The RV park was in the most perfect location. Only a half mile to the Ouray Spa and Pools, and just under one mile into their ... ( I was just googling another word for "charming" & Skinner just belted out "BAD ASS" ) ... just under one mile into their BAD ASS lil' western town. Tourists describe the area as Little Switzerland, but I see more of a western vibe. It’s just PERFECT. I WOULD LIVE THERE.
The river behind the RV resort is gorgeous blue water just inviting you to jump in. I did. It was freezing by the way.
There is a 1.8-mile looped walking trail in front of the river which is a flat and fun walk.
We had just received two new Buzz electric assist bikes – so we had some fun riding them into town. We even rode them to Box Canyon and Cascade Falls for early morning hikes.
Again – Ouray is PERFECT. I can’t type this enough.
Laura and I decided to take in the Ouray Hot Springs and Pool facility. It was $18 per person for the day, offering different temperature hot pools to soak and enjoy the views. There's also a large lap pool, a slide and a pool for family fun. It was well worth the money. No, it’s not a natural hot spring, but the water fed into the pools are from the springs full of minerals and tranquility if you just relax and look up at the mountains surrounding. I would do it again.
Sadly, we only had two nights in Ouray. The final night, we ventured into town for happy hour cocktails at Immogenes on the rooftop bar. Killer views all around as the sun starts to set. Do this. Ignore the rude host, and or bartenders that won’t answer your questions about beer on draft or whiskey for your Old Fashioned. You are forced to order from your phone and pay. Just do it. Trust me.
We still had an hour to kill before our 7:30 dinner reservations at Outlaws. ( Suggested by some folks we met in a Santa Fe bar! )
As suggested in Santa Fe – MAKE RESERVATIONS. The pandemic has everyone out in droves, and if you don’t think ahead you won’t get to eat.
We could not even find a bar to buy a bottle of wine to sip on for an hour while waiting for our reservation. We thought some in-town bar hopping would be fun. It’s not, when you can’t get a damn drink. We saw an Italian restaurant advertising fine wine. Onward! I don’t know what the deal was with rude hosts on this evening, but we were once again greeted by a snot of a host that instantly turned us away. There was an empty bar, tables, even benches empty. The old-school bartender heard us say we just wanted to purchase a bottle of wine and leave within 45 minutes. He asked the host to be quiet, and hurried us to his bar and sold us a great bottle of wine that was quite a deal. Goats Do Roam, from South Africa for $30! Score!!!
He suggested the men take to the bench and Laura and I could stand at the corner of the bar – so we did. The young snot of a host couldn’t take it anymore apparently, he rudely told Laura to move because the guests who reserved a table for two at the bar had arrived. Ummmm…. We are not in their seats? We moved, after some snarky comments – and my brash personality will say if you go to Bon Ton in Ouray, tell Jonah he is a little jack wagon. ( Did I just type that? )
Dinner at Outlaws was perfection. The hostess Amy was no nice and fun. Finally!!!! They had a gal playing piano saloon style, and bartenders were full of fun and personality. Prime Rib and crab legs for dinner, great wine, and then a round of free shots from the bar because our food came out cold. We just didn’t care anymore… we were happy to be round a friendly staff! Thank you to Amy at the hostess stand and all the bartenders for making our night end on a high note.
Note: Our navigation apps tried to force us onto the Million Dollar Highway, so I had to keep inserting towns that I knew were along 285, hoping the nav would figure out we DID not want to take the treacherous highway route.
Then I finally discovered a new RV app.... RV Life - it’s an app focused on GPS and parks. You can enter your RV size, weight and height. You can insert most RV parks, and ask for directions – and request RV-friendly! Ummmm. Why didn’t I know about this?????
Note: I also discovered another MUST app for RVers... RV Parky. If you want to route your trip, and find RV parks near cities you wish to visit, the route planner is really good. The navigation not so great… use RV Life -- RV-friendly nav!
I made our Lewis and Clark Tour 2021 public if you want to check out where we went, with the exact addresses for each park and or Harvest Host boon dock stop. Only issue, you can’t put in the RV Park name where the address is listed – so you need to add the park names in you notes section. The app will also give you the miles between stops!