Published: October 28th 2009October 28th 2009
Colorado in the autumn
We drove through some beautiful colours
Soaking in some hot springs
We had read about several hot springs in the Rocky Mountains and were eager to sample some. We followed the highway 50 through the mountains following the path of the river and through some spectacular scenery to which words cannot explain. Every colour you can imagine, not a cloud in the sky, clear fresh air and the sounds of birds and flowing water, now is the perfect time why I like travelling so much. We stopped in a lay by and paddled in the freezing cold river water and then continued on to the town of Salida. After a recommendation from a Salida local we headed to the nearby hot springs, I was determined to be in a hot spring by 2pm (present time 12.15pm!) We found a campsite that was around about two miles away from the springs which sold discounted tickets for the springs which we paid for there and then. “Lets slack putting up the tent and head to the springs now” it was 2.15pm and I was behind schedule. On arrival at the springs it looked to be nothing more than two square swimming pools with one full of children, not
what we had envisioned. We were beginning to have second thoughts about our decision as we knew there some other, more rustic, hot springs near by as recommended by the Lonely Planet guide. After a quick call to check to availability at Cottonwood Hot Springs we returned back to the campsite, collected our refund off a not so happy campsite owner and made track to the other springs. Revised time to be in hot springs: 3.10pm.
Cottonwood Hot Springs definitely had a rustic feel, tucked away with the Rocky Mountains as its back drop. When we arrived we were even happier to find out that the price of the dorm room, complete with en suite bathroom and kitchenette with double bed worked out as the same price as camping. Better still it turned out we would be the only people staying in the room that night. The pools were simply beautiful, not to mention thoroughly relaxing. We bathed in the sun and cool mountain air for the remainder of the afternoon (you’ll be happy to know I got in the pools by 3.05pm!)
We were back in the springs on several occasions that eve/following morning as the pools
were available all night to residents. Our most enjoyable being 1am, with pools to ourselves watching shooting stars pass in a star flooded sky. It would definitely fit into my top 3 beautiful, relaxing places to be.
The following morning we continued driving through the Rockies passing the Blue Mesa Reservoir that was over 25 miles long (that’s like from Dover to Calais!) and continued driving through spectacular scenery where huge mountains were met by beautiful blue lakes. As we climbed higher up the mountains we reached snow so of course we had to get out of the car and have a little play in it! We stopped at a small diner with the possibility of eating lunch there but the site of a fresh bear skin hanging outside soon put us off so instead we stopped off for lunch in Gunnison a hunting town in a valley where Doddy met a fellow hula-hooper!
We carried on driving but before too long we were in need of a sweet treat. I turned on my Cold Stone Creamery tracker and sure enough within 10 minutes we’d found one in the town of Montrose. On leaving Montrose we said our
goodbyes to the Rockies, or so we thought! No more than 45 minutes later we were back in the mountain range and climbing very rapidly on very narrow, winding roads with a sheer drop on one side and without a barrier. It was definitely sweaty palm time. I tried to distract herself by looking out the window for bears whilst all Doddy could think was that driving in the Alps wasn’t this bad. Eventually we reached the top and could breather a sigh of relief. We were in the little ski resort town of Ouray, we were getting low on fuel but we didn’t really think much of it as the next town was signposted 23 miles away. Eight miles out and the orange fuel light pops on! Oh dear! No worries we thought, most cars will do at least 30 miles once the light comes on. However, we weren’t driving normal miles; these were mountain miles that took us up to 10,000 feet. Doddy kept the car at a steady speed but the incline we were on was doing nothing for the fuel consumption and continued looking for bears until the engine warning light started flashing and the sweaty
palms returned. Eventually we turned a corner and could see the town of Silverton, a sleepy Victorian mining town, in the distance, complete with fuel station and as we pulled into the forecourt at 6.25pm we breathed a sigh of relief, especially as the garage shut at 6.30pm.
From there, and with a full tank of fuel with drove on to Durango. On route we found that the KOA campsite had shut for the winter 2 days earlier. We stopped at an RV park but the office was closed for the night, it was turning into one of those days. Whilst having tea we chatted to a guy who knew of a free camping spot down by a river. He drew us a map and we were on our way. Turn left, go past Walmart, past the animal hospital and you’re there…yeah right! After about half an hour we found the spot but it looked a bit dodgy. Our thoughts then turned to sleeping in a car park. Yes it was going to be another night sleeping in the car. Both of us were tired and in need of some sleep. Eventually we decided the Comfort Inn car park
was the place. It was another cold night but at least we had the new silver foil survival blankets to get us through the night. Doddy awoke at 6am to move the car in case we got rumbled. A quick trip to Walmart to grab a donut and coffee and we were back on the road.
There are more photos below