|Ouray, Colorado is called Switzerland of America
Rain was still falling and darkness approaching quickly when we arrived in the town of Ouray, a Natural Historic District also called “Switzerland of America” because the town is surrounded by mountains.
|Box Canyon Lodge and Hot Springs was one of the first
motels along the San Juan Skyway.
Established in the 1920s as a sanitarium where people came for the purported health benefits of the hot springs, the motel had been freshly painted bright orange with rustic wood trim. It wasn’t fancy, but rooms were clean and comfortable. Colorful flowers filled hanging baskets and meticulously-maintained gardens on the grounds. The Lodge is a peaceful, old-timey setting that has earned the hotel a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence and other awards.
|On the road going to Yankee Boy Basin
|Our Jeep went under Hanging Rock.
The eight-mile drive to Imogene and Yankee Boy Basins soon changed from paved to dirt road. Surrounded by towering rock walls we drove under Hanging Rock, a sturdy canopy above the road. Just below the timber line we passed the Ruby Trust Mine and a sign delineating the Alpine Tundra ecosystem.
|Meadows were filled with colorful wildflowers in summer.
Yankee Boy Mine was discovered in 1876 and got its name because that was the centennial year for the United States. Terrence drove the Jeep into the basin and stopped to turn around when we reached at 11,300 feet.
There we meandered on paths through beautiful fields filled with mountain bluebells, blue columbine, monkshead, silvery lupine, purple showy daisy, yellow alpine sunflower, pink sticky geranium, orange sneeze weed, arrowleaf ground cover (yellow with big, broad leaves), and purple asters. Twin waterfalls added to the idyllic scene and provided ample photo opportunities.
Towering in the distance was Mt. Sneffels, the local fourteener and a popular climb. Terrence explained that climbers have a code: trailhead by daylight; summit by noon; leave by 1:00 (to avoid thunder and lightning, which can be dangerous for hikers).
|Outstanding scenery at every turn in the Basin.
Stops on the return included Atlas mill, which had been abandoned from the gold and silver-producing Atlas Mine that operated from 1895-1900. The old mining town of Sneffels had 2000 people at one time but now is a ghost town with few remnants. Terrence claimed it was “Not abandoned, just idled,” disappearing in 1934.
|A rickety school house is all that remains of Snepples
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier