Another Reason To Take Your Time When Jeeping in The San Juans

The Road is Half the Adventure!

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to take some people up to Yankee Boy. Since I had just been there a few days ago, I was eager to get to the top, and not really looking to the sides as I rushed up the road.

Suddenly, one of the kids hollered “BEAR!”. What? I stopped, backed up, and lo and behold, there was a young cinnamon colored Black Bear gazing at us. As we all rushed to pull out our cell phones for pictures, several adventurers passed us with looks of disdain for blocking the trail.                                         


I tried to point to the bear for them, but they were just as focused as I had been on the road in front of them, and were not interested in the treasure less than ten feet away from us.

More Jeeps and four wheel drive vehicles passed us as we sat in the jeep and tried to get a clear shot of the little guy before he disappeared into the trees. Some joggers trotted by, and I leaned out of my window “There’s a little black bear right beside us.” I said. “OK” they replied, as they continued by. Not even a moment did they take to look. Of course, they were jogging, so perhaps they just didn’t want to let the little guy see them…..    

Black Bears are typically quite docile as long as you don’t surprise them, but I completely understand not wanting to come face to face with one without a jeep between us. 

Eventually, the bear wandered into the distance, and we all sighed in wonder as I put the jeep back into gear, and continued the drive. Suddenly, I didn’t feel quite so rushed, as all of us scanned the forest for more creatures.

Several deer stopped to watch us drive by, and birds of virtually every color flitted from tree to tree, marking our passing with song.

We reached Yankee Boy, and continued on the trail a little further, playing with the four wheel drive a little. They don’t call a Rubicon the “Rock Crawler” for nothing! The four wheel strut system on these jeeps makes traversing rocky terrain seem almost easy, even for a relatively inexperienced jeeper like me.

We stopped on a boulder for a few minutes to watch some marmots holler at us, then turned around and headed back to a pull off area and walked to the waterfall. It is amazing what a difference a week can make in the high country! 

The flowers are absolutely amazing right now. A rainbow of colors blanket the hillside and line the river. I found myself taking pictures of the exact same spots I had a week ago, with incredibly different results. Some of the people I was with had never been to Ouray or the surrounding area, and I was able too see the magnificence of the mountains through their eyes. as they exclaimed over and over at the views.

Driving back down to Ouray, we took our time. We chatted and laughed as we scanned the mountains, awed by the beauty around us. We came upon some folks who had broken down, and quickly made room to take them down the mountain. They told us about their experience, and we made fast friends. 

A fantastic burger at Maggies Burgers was the next important item on our agenda. Once our bellies were full, we headed to the car wash to clean our jeep, and gas it back up before returning it to the rental company.

Back at the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs, we quickly changed into our suits and enjoyed a nice long soak in the hot springs, discussing what an amazing trip we had had, and the lesson I had learned.

Sometimes it isn’t the destination, but the way you get there. Ouray boasts over 500 miles of jeep trails. Every one as unbelievable as the next, but no matter how many times we travel them, the trip is never the same.



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