tonithegreat (tonithegreat) wrote in mountainwomen,

Southwestern Colorado Advice

It's been a while since I posted to this forum, but it occurs to me that you all could be a good source of advice on an upcoming trip.

Does anyone have any recommendations for pretty short (day) hikes or great camping areas that shouldn't be missed in southwestern Colorado? I'm going to be doing some camping and hiking in the San Juans late next month and I'm looking for ideas to add to the agenda for lazier days.

My fiance and I are hoping to do a major hike and climb Mt. Eolus and some of the nearby 14ers as our main trip objective, but we're also looking for other fun things to do in the greater area. Recommendations outside Ouray and Creede would be appreciated too.
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If you're planning on passing through Durango (I assume you are, to get to the trailhead for Eolus?) I recommend checking out the Colorado Trail, which ends just outside of town--it's in the timber a lot (by a stream which you'll probably want to enjoy too) but you get some good views of the mountains. Also, check out the climbing, there are a couple bouldering areas, and all sorts of climbing for all skill levels, plus some good guide companies in town if you're feeling wealthy. And I would also highly, highly recommend renting a mountain bike and hitting some of the trails right outside of town. I finally got a bike, and riding it behind the college campus has become my new love. The landscape is more desert-like, Pinyon-Juniper-Gambel's oak, but the lupine should still be in bloom next month, and sage meadows surrounded by cliff-topped hills are pretty glorious too. I'm waiting for the cactus to start blooming as well, we have tons of prickly pear and it was bright pink at lower elevation and a little further south a couple weeks ago. We're also ridiculously close to Mesa Verde and similar sites (Sand Canyon, near Cortez, is a less developed area that has neat ruins and great trails). If you don't mind driving for a little while, those are also great places to explore.

And honestly, you can stop in to any gear shop, pick up a map (I recommend Latitude 40 maps for Southwest Colorado, or as an alternative, pick up a Forest Service map, if you can find one detailed enough) and ask the minions if they can direct you toward good hiking--I always love this task way more than fitting someone with shoes, for example.

Also, you're probably already aware, but we had an epic winter, (we can currently still backcountry ski on Red Mountain Pass, and it tried to snow in town last week) so there's a good likelyhood that you'll be climbing fourteeners in the snow, so prepare for winter conditions too.

Whew, that's long, I hope it's helpful. Good luck and enjoy Southwest Colorado, it's a pretty amazing place.