Black Bear Pass – Perfect Early Fall Colors

As the colors begin to change, a trip over one of the many four wheel drive roads around Ouray is a definite must!

In the more than twenty years I have lived in the area, I had never actually experienced one of the most famous and difficult trails in the area: Black Bear Pass. That is why, when Greg from San Juan Jeep Tours came by the other day and invited me along, I jumped at the chance.

Just off of the Million Dollar Highway between Silverton and Ouray, the trail begins steeply, rising in elevation and offering spectacular views almost immediately. 
On either side of the trail, the scenery becomes more and more breathtaking, and, as we entered into the tight switchbacks at Black Bear Mine, views of Telluride, and the San Juan Mountains are only more awesome when complimented by the patina of colors of early fall.

Passing Bridal Veil Falls, it seems unbelievable that once hundreds of people lived on this mountain, working and playing. On a road that we now only travel a couple of days a year, once hardy men and women travelled with mule carts laden with gold through all kinds of weather. A tiny glimpse of the rich history of Ouray and the surrounding area.

Black Bear Pass is designated as one of the most technical four wheel drive roads for a very good reason.

If not for the fact that the driver was an experienced guide who has driven this road hundreds of times, there are some spots that are truly frightening, and with a less experienced driver, could be extremely dangerous. A jeep tour also provides the added benefit of a photographers paradise. It is much easier to capture that ptarmigan hiding in the rocks when you’re not the one trying to focus on the road.

There are only a few weeks left to experience the high country, and as the Fall colors progress, the scenery becomes ever more spectacular. At the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs, we keep close watch on both road conditions and the leaves.



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