It was a crisp Colorado morning as we loaded the bus at 5:30am to begin our drive to Silverton. Our drive followed along the Arkansas River, which was flowing fast from the spring snow melt. We passed by numerous campers with their campsites along the roaring river. However, there were no sightings of rafters, or fishermen, braving the swift water today.
Most of the travelers slept through the early part of the trip before our first rest stop in Salida. After stopping, the travelers were awake with excitement with views of the snowcapped mountains surrounding us. We soon crossed the Western Continental divide at Monarch Pass; where water flows towards the Pacific Ocean. The farther west we rode, the more scenic the views became.
After passing through the mountain town of Ouray, with its famous hot springs, we started the steep climb onto the Million Dollar Highway. The highway gained its name for the fact that it cost approximately one million dollars to build each mile of the highway. It could have been named just for its million-dollar views!
Faces were pressed to the windows trying to catch glimpses of the mountains and sheer drop offs along the way. There were plenty of “oohs” and “aahs”, and even a few sweaty palms on the bus! Excitement continued to build with anticipation of what would be around the next curve. But Ray navigated the winding road like a champ! Cynthia said, “the scenery was breathtaking. Pictures could not describe the beauty we saw today.”
We arrived in the quaint western town of Silverton where the travelers had time for a quick lunch before boarding the narrow-gauge train to Durango. The narrow-gauge railroad is named for its narrow passages, where granite and stone were within touching distance from the open windows of the rail car. Soot flew past us as the train chugged along. The train ride took us on a 4-hour excursion through the San Juan National Forest. Phones were out trying to capture the perfect scenery snap, group picture, or even a selfie with the river. There were plenty of photo taking opportunities throughout the entire trip. Libby said, “the train ride was a unique experience and not something you can do in NC.” Settie said, “I LOVED the train!”
Once we arrived in Durango, the travelers had free time for dinner and to explore the quaint eclectic mountain town with plenty of unique shops, live music, and art galleries.
We were blessed with a beautiful day for our journey through the majestic Rocky Mountains. There are not enough words to describe the beauty of nature we saw today. More adventure awaits tomorrow!