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Thread: Trip Report: On the Road to Ouray, Colorado - July 15-22, 2013

              
   
   
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  1. #1
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    Default Trip Report: On the Road to Ouray, Colorado - July 15-22, 2013

    Day 1 – 07/15/13 - Ellensburg, Washington to Belgrade, Montana



    “Toyota Tacoma and Xventure Off Road Trailer”

    A few months ago, my son asked if I wanted to ride along as he drives a company vehicle to the FJ Summit in Ouray, Colorado. How could I say no to this opportunity.

    The day was finally upon us. And instead of driving the fastest route to Ouray, we decided to take the scenic route through Montana, Yellowstone and Wyoming before reaching Colorado. At least, thats the plan.


    “Lookout Pass Ski Area, Montana, 2013″

    We headed out early from my house in Ellensburg and except for gas, food, coffee, potty stops, and to stretch our legs, we pretty much drove straight through on Interstate 90 to our hotel in Belgrade, Montana.


    “Wildfire in the Rearview Mirror, Tarkio, Montana, 2013″

    We passed a wildfire burning on the hills above Superior, Montana. A few crews plus 5 helicopters were already on scene as we drove by. We passed additional responding fire engines, fire crews and helicopters along the way.


    “Clark Fork River, Gold Creek, Montana, 2013″

    For a lot of the way, the interstate follows the Clark Fork River.

    Late in the day, we arrived in Belgrade, just outside Bozeman.


    “Summer Clouds, Belgrade, Montana, 2013″

    Tomorrow, we’re driving through part of Yellowstone National Park and will be staying in Wyoming. At least that is the plan.
    Last edited by Steve; 07-23-2013 at 13:47.
    Steve

    K9PNW | Exploring the Pacific Northwest in my 1992 Toyota FJ80 Land Cruiser

    Pacific Northwest Backroad Adventures - Pacific Northwest Outdoor Adventure Forums

    Steve G. Bisig Photography
    - Pacific Northwest Photography: Nature, Landscapes, Rural, Urban

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    Default Day 2 – 07/16/13 - Belgrade, Montana to Coalville, Utah


    “Views along US191, Gallatin County, Montana”

    After nearly 16 hours on the road since we left our hotel in Belgrade, Montana, we finally reached our hotel for tonight’s stay in Coalville, Utah. During today’s adventure, we visited four different states and two national parks. All this as a side trip on our way to the 2013 FJ Summit in Ouray, Colorado.

    We were on the road this morning by 6:00 AM. From Belgrade to West Yellowstone, it’s approximately 90 miles of beautiful country. This put us at the West entrance of Yellowstone at a good time, however, there were already a lot people there ahead of us.

    At our first stop along Madison River, we had a bull bison walk by about 20 feet from the vehicle (while I was outside taking landscape photos), then a herd of cow elk with several calves immediately after that. That was our wildlife viewing for the entire time in Yellowstone.


    After our wildlife experience, we stopped at several of the geyser viewing spots including Old Faithful. We arrived immediately after the show and because of the summer crowds, we decided to drive on after eating lunch and purchasing a few post cards for my daughter.


    “Waterfalls, Kepler Cascades, Yellowstone National Park”

    From Old Faithful, we drove up the West shoreline of Yellowstone Lake to the Lake Lodge. After driving to the Lake Lodge and heading back South, it started raining pretty hard on us.


    “Upper Snake River, Yellowstone National Park”

    While driving towards the South entrance, the road starts to follow the headwaters of the scenic Snake River.


    “Grand Tetons, Jackson Lake, Grand Tetons National Park, Wyoming, 2013″

    The elevation descends over a 1000 feet as the road leaves Yellowstone National Park. A short distance after leaving Yellowstone, we entered the Grand Tetons National Park. First, the peaks are visible across a large lake, and then, as you travel South, you get very close and have some great views.


    “The Grand Tetons, Grand Tetons National Park, Wyoming, 2013″

    Once we left the Grand Tetons National Park, we saw a bull moose along the Snake River as we drove over the bridge (of course there was no place to pull off, especially with a line of cars behind us).

    Once back on the main highway, we drove straight through the resort/tourist town of Jackson Hole, Wyoming without any stops (too crowded for us).


    “Highway 89, Wyoming, 2013″

    Once we left Jackson Hole, we followed the signs to Salt Lake City, which led us in and out of Idaho and Wyoming, under dark, cloudy skies (with rain and lightening) until we reached Evanston, Wyoming.

    From Evanston, we headed West on I-80 to our night’s destination at Coalville, Utah.

    It was a long day with many miles on the road. It has been over 40 years since I had been to Yellowstone and the first time for my son. Even though we only had time for a quick drive through, this was a great overview of the West and South part of the park. I would love to come back on a trip during September or October (once the crowds are less) and spend some quality time.

    Tomorrow (Wednesday), we have about 8 hours of driving to reach our hotel in Ouray, Colorado. Of course, with all the potential scenic distractions along the way, we’ll have to add several hours to our trip.
    Last edited by Steve; 07-23-2013 at 13:48.
    Steve

    K9PNW | Exploring the Pacific Northwest in my 1992 Toyota FJ80 Land Cruiser

    Pacific Northwest Backroad Adventures - Pacific Northwest Outdoor Adventure Forums

    Steve G. Bisig Photography
    - Pacific Northwest Photography: Nature, Landscapes, Rural, Urban

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    Default Day 3 – 07/17/13 - Coalville, UT to Ouray, CO


    “Driving down US189, Heber City, Utah, 2013″

    Today’s blog post wil be short and sweet, more photos than text.

    We ended up getting a late start from our night’s stay in Coalville, Utah.


    “Locomotive, Tie Fork Rest Area, US-6, Utah, 2013″

    We drove pretty much a straight through, with only minimal stops, as we made our way through the high deserts and farm country of Utah and Colorado before reaching our destination for the next four days in Ouray, Colorado.


    “Mountains & Clouds, US-6, Utah, 2013″

    We reached Ouray around 5:00 PM and got checked into our hotel. After getting our registration, we parked the Xventure trailer and headed into town for dinner. We enjoyed delicious burgers at Ouray Brewing.


    “High Desert Thunderhead, US-6, Utah, 2013″

    Tomorrow (Thursday), we’re taking the Toyota Tacoma up on the trails surrounding Ouray for a photo and video shoot.


    “Ouray, Colorado, 2013″

    We’re also scheduled for a trail run on Friday and Saturday.
    Last edited by Steve; 07-23-2013 at 13:48.
    Steve

    K9PNW | Exploring the Pacific Northwest in my 1992 Toyota FJ80 Land Cruiser

    Pacific Northwest Backroad Adventures - Pacific Northwest Outdoor Adventure Forums

    Steve G. Bisig Photography
    - Pacific Northwest Photography: Nature, Landscapes, Rural, Urban

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    Default Day 4 – FJ Summit, Ouray, Colorado - 07/18/13


    “Line-up for trail run, FJ Summit, Ouray, Colorado”

    After three days on the road, we were finally able to drive some of the roads around Ouray, Colorado on the first official day of the FJ Summit.

    Originally, we planned on spending the day with another company at the event, however, after a slow start to the morning, we broke off from the main group and headed up on our own to get some of the commercial photos we needed.


    “Toyota Tacoma, County Road 361, Ouray, Colorado”

    From Ouray, we drove out on County Road 361 (Camp Bird Road), following the steep cliffs of Canyon Creek, passing two very large active mining operations along the way.


    “Teakettle Mountain & Potosi Peak, Colorado”

    After passing a group of FJ Cruisers heading out for Imogene Pass, we continued up first to Sidney Basin and then onto Governor Basin where we were over 12,000 feet in elevation (my previous high was 11,000 at Mammoth Mountain in California). Along the route, we passed several old mines with ruins along with a few smaller scale mining operations.


    “Toyota Tacoma, Sidney Basin Road, Sneffels, Colorado”

    From Governor Basin, we headed back down and then up past the waterfalls and up to Yankee Boy Basin before heading back to Ouray.


    “Upper Waterfalls, Yankee Boy Basin, Sneffels Creek, Colorado”

    I could really feel the altitude while walking around taking photographs at 12,000 feet.


    “Waterfalls, Yankee Boy Basin, Sneffels Creek, Colorado”

    After getting back into town, we fueled up and drove down to Ridgway for tomorrows lunch.

    Once back at the hotel, another thunderstorm rolled through Ouray (second day in a row) with thunder, lightening, heavy rain and large hail.

    The rain finally stopped around 5:30 PM and that’s when we parked the ARB Toyota Tacoma for display during vendor time.


    “Mendota Peak, Yankee Boy Basin, Sneffels, Colorado”

    Tomorrow (Friday), we’ll be running an organized trail ride over Imogene Pass (elevation 13,114 feet) to Telluride, Colorado.
    Last edited by Steve; 07-23-2013 at 13:49.
    Steve

    K9PNW | Exploring the Pacific Northwest in my 1992 Toyota FJ80 Land Cruiser

    Pacific Northwest Backroad Adventures - Pacific Northwest Outdoor Adventure Forums

    Steve G. Bisig Photography
    - Pacific Northwest Photography: Nature, Landscapes, Rural, Urban

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    Default Day 5 – FJ Summit, Ouray, Colorado - 07/19/13



    “Toyota 4x4s, Camp Bird Road, Ouray, Colorado”

    Today was our first organized trail run of the 2013 FJ Summit in Ouray, Colorado.

    We met up across from our hotel at 6:45 AM and were on the road at 7:00. We had a total of four Toyotas on the run, two Tacomas and two FJ Cruisers.


    “Mining Ruins, Imogene Pass Road, Ouray, Colorado”

    The group drove up the Camp Bird Road and then turned onto the Imogene Pass road. The Imogene Pass Road starts out in the timber and follows the edge of the canyon above the Camp Bird Mine up into the basin above timberline.


    “Overlook at Imogene Pass, Colorado”

    We passed multiple small mine sites and ruins before reaching Imogene Pass at 13,114 feet. This is officially the highest elevation I’ve ever stood.

    We first stopped at the overlook before moving on to the the actual pass. We had another group coming behind us so we didn’t have a lot of time to spend at the summit.


    “Imogene Pass, Colorado”

    Having spent some time yesterday above 12,000 feet helped me acclimatize to the altitude for today’s trip because I actually felt good during the little hiking around I was able to do at Imogene Pass.

    From Imogene Pass, the 4×4 road switchbacks down into the basin to the former townsite of Tomboy. There are a lot of ruins from the townsite and from the mining operations.


    “Bridal Veil Falls, Telluride, Colorado”

    After leaving Tomboy, we followed the canyon down and eventually made our way into Telluride, Colorado. From the road, their were great views of Bridal Veil Falls and the town of Telluride.

    Once we reached Telluride, we said our goodbyes to the group and drove up near Bridal Veil Falls, passing some mining structures. The parking area for Bridal Veil Falls was very busy so we got a quick photo and headed back to Telluride.


    “Mining Operations, Telluride, Colorado”

    Telluride, being a resort town, was very busy so we just did a drive through and continued down the highway to Ridgway, passing some great views of the San Juan Mountains and finally back to our hotel room in Ouray.


    “San Juan Mountains, Highway 62, Colorado”

    Steve

    K9PNW | Exploring the Pacific Northwest in my 1992 Toyota FJ80 Land Cruiser

    Pacific Northwest Backroad Adventures - Pacific Northwest Outdoor Adventure Forums

    Steve G. Bisig Photography
    - Pacific Northwest Photography: Nature, Landscapes, Rural, Urban

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    Default Day 6 – FJ Summit, Ouray, Colorado - 07/20/13



    “Old Shack, County Road 18, Ouray County, Colorado”

    We originally planned on attending another organized group run at the 2013 FJ Summit in Ouray, Colorado, however after being on the road for five straight days of early today mornings and late nights, we decided to catch up on a little sleep. On top of that we needed more still photos and video of the ARB Toyota Tacoma.


    “Interior of an Old Shack, County Road 18, Ouray County, Colorado”

    After fueling up and getting coffee, we left Ouray on Highway 550 a short distance to the county road to Engineer Pass.


    “Views from County Road 2, near Animas Forks, Colorado”

    We bypassed driving to Engineer Pass and continued on the county road, past grazing sheep and descended to Animas Forks. Animas Forks is one of better preserved ghost towns in Colorado. We would have liked to stop at Animas Flats, but we had to get some production work done, so we continued on.


    “Abandoned House, Animas Forks, Colorado”

    We drove through California Gulch and up to California Pass, elevation 12,960 feet. Just past California Pass, the road switchbacks down to Como Lake where a lot of people were stopped. The road past Como Lake leads you down through Poughkeepsie Gulch and is rated one of the more difficult trails in the area.


    “Toyota Tacoma, California Pass, Colorado”

    We ended up taking a lunch break at Como Lake before continuing on to Hurricane Pass, elevation 12,730. After Hurricane Pass, we drove to Corkscrew Pass where we stopped for photos and video of the Toyota Tacoma.


    “Hurricane Pass, Colorado”

    Because the scenery was beautiful and the lighting was nearly perfect, we ended spending nearly two hours making content.


    “Views from Corkscrew Pass, Colorado”

    By now, it was getting late, so we had to start heading back to Ouray. We then found out why the road is call the “corkscrew”. The road descends down a steep face via very tight switchbacks before opening up in a basin. From the basin, the terrain gets steeper as you head into Corkscrew Gulch.


    “Corkscrew Pass, Colorado”

    The Corkscrew Road quickly meets up with Highway 550 near Ironton and from there, it’s a quick trip back to Ouray.

    Tomorrow (Sunday), we start the trip home to Washington state. How far we drive, we’re not sure yet. Tomorrow will be the long day with a shorter day (hopefully) planned for Monday when we arrive home.

    Steve

    K9PNW | Exploring the Pacific Northwest in my 1992 Toyota FJ80 Land Cruiser

    Pacific Northwest Backroad Adventures - Pacific Northwest Outdoor Adventure Forums

    Steve G. Bisig Photography
    - Pacific Northwest Photography: Nature, Landscapes, Rural, Urban

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    Default The Trip Home from the FJ Summit in Ouray, Colorado - July 21-22, 2013



    “Stopping for Gas, Twin Falls, Idaho”

    After about four hours of sleep, we hit the road from the 2013 FJ Summit in Ouray, Colorado for home early Sunday morning. Our goal for the night was Pendleton, Oregon which would make for a relatively short trip to home in Ellensburg, Washington on Monday.

    There wasn’t a lot of highlights other than stopping at In-N-Out in American Fork, Utah for lunch. Except for a few mountain ranges we drove through, it was mostly desert, shrub-steppe and farmlands along the way. The high temperature on the way home, according to the on-board Toyota Tacoma thermometer, was 106 degrees. With temperatures in that range, we didn’t spend a lot of time outdoors.


    “In-N-Out, American Fork, Utah”

    We basically spent eight days in a new (around 18,000 miles to start the trip) crew-cab Toyota Tacoma with an automatic transmission. The modifications to the truck included an ARB Bull Bar, Warn winch, front and rear air lockers, Old Man Emu suspension, Falken all-terrain tires (2 sizes up from stock), rock sliders, two full-length slide-out drawer systems (loaded with recover gear, catalogs and marketing materials), ARB fridge, a custom tubular-steel bed rack that held an ARB roof top tent, hilift jack, shovel and gas can. Add two people, camera gear and personal items, the truck was at or near its maximum rated gross vehicle weight.


    “Trees, Umatilla County, Oregon”

    To start the trip, we towed the Xventure off-road trailer from Ellensburg, to Montana, through Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. From Wyoming, we pulled the trailer through Utah and finally to Ouray, Colorado. With trailer in tow we averaged about 10 mpg. The trailer towed very nicely. The Tacoma could have used more power for the highway climbs (something I’m very used to in my Land Cruiser) but overall performed well towing the trailer. A gear ratio change would probably make a big difference in the towing ability of the truck.


    “Toyota Tacoma, County Road 19, Animas Forks, Colorado”

    The next three days we spent driving the mining roads in the San Juan Mountains around Ouray, Telluride and Silverton. Because of the conditions of many of the roads, we spent a lot of time driving in low range. Several of the passes we drove were over 12,000 feet and most days we were above 10,000 feet until we got back to Ouray. I think we averaged about 9 mpg gallon on these days of driving.

    On the trip home was much faster. No trailer, and lot of the marketing materials distributed lightened the load. Our mpg jumped up to an average of 14-15 mpg (that included driving through a lot of triple digit temperatures).

    From a four wheeling point of view, I was very impressed with the crew-cab Toyota Tacoma. When compared to my 80-series Land Cruiser, the width is about the same, the Tacoma has a longer wheelbase and overall length. I feel that my Land Cruiser has a little better visibility over the front of the hood than the Tacoma (I feel like you’re sitting lower in the Tacoma than my Land Cruiser).

    The independent front suspension (IFS) is nice on the faster sections of road and trail. It performs well on the more technical trail as well. If you currently drive a 4×4 with a solid front axle, you will need to get used to more wheel lift in spots of high articulation. A front and rear locker helps in these situations.

    For a long-wheelbase vehicle, the Tacoma makes nice and tight turns on the trails. Some of the roads in the San Juan Mountains switchback, tightly and steeply down the faces of canyons and the truck performed very well in these situations.

    Overall, I would give the Toyota Tacoma high ratings for use as a expedition/overland platform.

    Road trips are fun, however it is nice being back in the Pacific Northwest. If you get the opportunity, I highly recommend a trip to this area of Colorado.


    Steve

    K9PNW | Exploring the Pacific Northwest in my 1992 Toyota FJ80 Land Cruiser

    Pacific Northwest Backroad Adventures - Pacific Northwest Outdoor Adventure Forums

    Steve G. Bisig Photography
    - Pacific Northwest Photography: Nature, Landscapes, Rural, Urban

  8. #8
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    Terrific trip report, Steve. It's good to see you guys out and about. Needless to say the photos were excellent, and for what it's worth to my eye the color shots are superior to b&w. By the way, how did you guys do for headroom in the Toyota? I've tried both extended cab and four door Tacoma's and with my long waist and short legs I shove my head into the headliner even while the truck is sitting still.

    Thanks again, Steve. Sharing your trip is much appreciated.
    Jerry
    Reading and Riding Northwest Backroads
    K7PNW

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry View Post
    Terrific trip report, Steve.<snip> Sharing your trip is much appreciated.
    x2. I'm assuming the pics were from your iPhone and can't wait for the 'real' pics.

    I took a trip in 2001 exploring the area between Dolores and Telluride, I hit Dunton and Alta, but this makes me want to go back for a more in depth look.

    Thanks.
    Ted
    2006 Jeep Liberty, pretty much stock. But well stocked when I travel!

  10. #10
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    Thanks Jerry.

    The headroom in the 2013 Tacoma is just fine. Even my son, at 6'5" has room. I wouldn't want to sit in the back seat with two people over 6 foot sitting up front.

    Steve
    Steve

    K9PNW | Exploring the Pacific Northwest in my 1992 Toyota FJ80 Land Cruiser

    Pacific Northwest Backroad Adventures - Pacific Northwest Outdoor Adventure Forums

    Steve G. Bisig Photography
    - Pacific Northwest Photography: Nature, Landscapes, Rural, Urban

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