Crossing the Divide on Monarch Pass
From this point all the rivers East of here flow East and the rivers West of here flow West
Antero Reservoir to Ouray - Saturday May 25 –At Antero Reservoir it got seriously cold last night because of the altitude and it being basically desert country and I used my two lighter blankets plus my big heavy blanket. I woke up early at 0530 AM and warmed up the truck for 5 minutes or so before climbing back on the gravel road to Hwy 24 and heading West towards the junction of Hwy 24 and 285 at Antero Jct.
Within a couple of miles I came to the intersection and went south on Hwy 24/285 and over Trout Creek Pass at 9487 ft. to the intersection where Hwy 24 heads north towards Buena Vista and Hwy 285 goes south to Poncha Springs where I headed West on Hwy 50. I started climbing again on a steep road and reached the summit of Monarch Pass at 11,312 ft (3,448m). This was the continental divide and the rivers flow west from here instead of east as they had up to this point. After reaching the summit of Monarch Pass I put my truck in a lower gear and eased down the west side of the pass to Gunnison, elevation 7,703 ft.
Coming into Gunnison I saw a MacDonalds so stopped to use the free Internet access (called Wayport access) and had breakfast. I decided I would go into town a bit and have a look around and see if I wanted to use Gunnison as a home base or camp further west in or near the Black Canyon of the Gunnison or Blue Mesa Reservoir. I drove Gunnison from East to West and then came back to the middle of town and drove it South to North, I can’t say I was much impressed by Gunnison and so I continued on along on Hwy 50 West out of town and to the north side of Blue Mesa Reservoir. The reservoir looked to be very low and although there were some campgrounds I can’t say I was very much tempted.I continued on west along the north end of the reservoir then over the bridge and west. I kept going on and on up and down curvy roads and started to wander if I had missed the turnoff to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison but finally I saw the exit for Hwy 347 which goes to the canyon. I took
off on it northward toward the canyon climbing and climbing again till I reached the entrance to the National Park.
I toured the canyon and it was a very impressive canyon with several turnouts with parking spaces along the road for viewpoints of the canyon. More than I wanted to walk down to and back up again from. I checked out some and skipped the others. I think there was about 11 of them.
I could have driven to the bottom of the canyon but had done enough going down and climbing up switchbacks to suit me for a bit. If I had been in a rental car I probably would have done it but I didn’t want to wear out my truck.
After touring the canyon I went back on Hwy 347 to Hwy 50 and headed west again to Montrose. By now I was just looking for a place to stay for the night. I hadn’t had much luck finding campgrounds so I checked on hotel rooms to rent in Montrose but they were all rented because of the Memorial Day holiday. So I headed south on Hwy 550 towards Ouray and Silverton.
- if you are headed south out of Montrose to Ouray be sure to fill up in Montrose. Gas in Montrose was $3.89 a gallon but in Ouray the only two stations in town were both $4.18 a gallon. If coming from the south gas at the intersection in Silverton when I went through there was $3.79 a gallon at the pump but $3.69 a gallon if you went inside and paid cash.
Continuing south out of Montrose I came to the Ridgway State Park campground and they were full. So I continued on south again to Ouray and had intended to go over the Red Mountain Pass at 11,075 ft but was wore out and just decided to rent a room for the night and look around the town the next day to see if there was anything worth seeing besides the usual tourist stuff.
The room which was nothing fancy cost me $75. It was OK though and it was nice to have a hot shower and good internet. I was tired and didn’t feel like exploring Ouray that evening so I just fixed up a baked potato in the microwave for my dinner. And had
some yogurt for desert.
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