11 July 2009

Day 7 -- Destination: Gunnison, CO


Day 7
Destination: Gunnison, CO
Riding Miles: 229

Last August we made the trip up the Million Dollar Hwy (US 550) which is also considered one of the Top Ten Scenic Drives in the US. This time around it was familiar and more enjoyable. We had an early start which meant less traffic on the twisty roads. Red Mountain Pass still has no guardrails and I tried to get pictures of the steep drop offs but didn’t have much luck.

Despite varying explanations as to the origin of its name (one claims it cost $1 million a mile to build in 1924; another says it contains $1 million in gold ore), there's no disputing the fact that the 75-mile stretch of scenic highway known as Million Dollar Highway is a breathtaking journey through the majestic mountain passes of western Colorado. Crossing part of the San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway, and following route US 550 between the old mining towns of Silverton and Ouray, the route's twists and turns wend high above the Red Mountain Pass -- an 11,018-foot-high collapsed volcano whose lava flow was found to contain gold in 1860 -- and past the deep Uncompahgre Gorge, into which flow several waterfalls.


We took US-50 from Montrose to Gunnison, one route that neither Bryan nor I have ever journeyed. Just west of Gunnison we came upon this huge reservoir, Blue Mesa Reservoir. The entire time I’m riding along side this reservoir for miles and miles I couldn’t believe how huge it was. Blue Mesa is the largest body of water in the state of Colorado; it is 20 miles long with 96 miles of shoreline and the largest Kokanee Salmon fishery in the United States. And if that’s not enough… the record for catching the biggest lake trout in Colorado was caught at Blue Mesa, the fish weighed a whopping 50 lbs. 5 oz.

Taken at Molas Pass, US-550



Silverton, CO - US-550



Bryan at Blue Mesa Reservoir

BryanBlueMesa

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