Montrose, Ridgeway, Telluride, Cortez, and Ute Campground

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July 31st 2013
Published: August 18th 2013
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Blue Mesa Reservoir to Ute Campground

"Paddy Wagon" used in movie True Grit "Paddy Wagon" used in movie True Grit "Paddy Wagon" used in movie True Grit

Note the beautiful mountains in the background
July 31 – Wednesday – I awoke early at the Lake Fork Campground by the Blue Mesa Dam of the Blue Mesa Reservoir. It was cold so I started up the truck and warmed it up and turned on the heater and warmed up the inside of the truck. I just relaxed a bit and woke up a bit and let the truck warm up.

After a bit I tossed off the covers, let the seat back up and started down the road west on US route 50 toward Montrose.

Montrose is the only city of any size in this part of Colorado so if someone wants to eat, gas up, or rent a room it is the place to do it. In and of itself it doesn’t have much to offer in the area of recreational opportunities or beauty, but it is about the best place to “home base” from to take day trips to the many things to see within a day trip, such as Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Ridgeway, Orvis Hot Springs, Ouray, Telluride, Grand Mesa, Redstone, and several other locations. It has several budget hotels to stay in as well.

Coming into Montrose there is a MacDonalds on Hwy 50 and then on Hwy 550 going south as well for Internet access.

Going south out of Montrose is Ridgeway State Park and then Ridgeway. Ridgeway is the place where the movie “True Grit” with John Wayne was filmed. It is a neat little town with scenic mountains and national forest with trails for biking and hiking. Also some scenic drives.

I checked out the Railroad museum there as well as the “paddy wagon” used by John Wayne in the movie. There is also a café there called “The True Grit Café” and it was pretty good. It had memorabilia from the movie on all the walls and upstairs. I had a buffalo burger and it was quite tasty. Across the street from the café is the park that the “hanging” took place in the movie. There is also the building used for the livery stable which is now a post office and the fires station which is now an artist studio. At the local tourist bureau is a pamphlet which showed the locations of other scenes filmed in the movie including the scene in which “Rooster” met the outlaws in the mountain meadow. Once again I don’t know what my hurry was….I should have invested another day in Ridgeway.

I headed west out of Ridgeway on Co. 62 to where it intersected with Co. 145 and then took it south to Telluride. From what I have heard Telluride is one of those places where if you have to ask what something cost, you can’t afford it so I gave it a quick drive thru and back again and then headed south towards Cortez on Co. 145 again. I passed a couple of NFS campgrounds which looked like they would have served as somewhere to stay if I had wished to explore Telluride. The area in and around Telluride was quite beautiful.

I continued south on Co. 145 until it intersected with US route 160 and took it West to Cortez. The MacDonalds in Cortez has good internet and it is a good place to get out of the heat for a bit. It was cool in the mountains but Cortez is desert like and seriously hot every time I have been there. There is a section with tables and electric plugs at the MacDonalds in Cortez and that was the only reason I went there. I wanted to catch up on emails etc. and check out a few things. I lingered in Cortez for quite a bit at the MacDonalds more to let things cool down some than anything else.

I considered just going to Mesa Verde National Park and camp there overnight but I have already been to the park a few times and it was too early in the day for me to stop, so I went back East on 160 towards Durango and Pagosa Springs.

At this stage of the day I just wanted to head to the Ute Campground about 15 miles west of Pagosa Springs and call it a day there. I just kept on a knocking through Durango and eastward towards Pagosa Springs till I reached the Ute Campground where I rented a campsite for the night. I guess the Park Host was lonely for someone to talk to because he kept on, and on, and on about a truck he had bought, till I had to interrupt him and tell him I needed to set up my camp before it got dark.

It was a pretty good and quiet
Firehouse Firehouse Firehouse

Used as firehouse in movie "True Grit". Now artist studio.
campground and there was only me and one other group of campers staying there.

I really didn’t have anything to “set up” but had just told the host that to get rid of him so I ate my dinner and turned in for the night.

I had by now decided that the tug to go home for a bit was pretty strong so I had decided tomorrow I would head through Pagosa Springs and then south on 84 into New Mexico and thru Santa Fe maybe stopping at Santa Fe for a bit. Santa Fe is a really beautiful city and even in summer is usually cool because of its elevation and low humidity.

Additional photos below
Photos: 12, Displayed: 12


The "True Grit Cafe"The "True Grit Cafe"
The "True Grit Cafe"

The True Grit Café. Pretty good food and memorabilia from the movie "True Grit".
Buffalo burgerBuffalo burger
Buffalo burger

Buffalo burger with mushrooms added. Sooooooooo good !
Coming into TellurideComing into Telluride
Coming into Telluride

Beautiful scenery coming into Telluride

Beautiful but expensive

19th August 2013

I"ve been through Ouray a few times in the mid 70's (when it was nothing of a town) Even though it has grown up I'd like to go back there a stay for a few days. The burger looked good.
21st August 2013

Yes Ouray is quite nice as all the surrounding area.
21st August 2013

Never been to Telluride
I've heard it is beautiful, but didn't hear it was expensive. I still want to go there one of these days, so am happy to hear there are some forest campgrounds nearby. I have been to Ouray and it is one of my favorite spots in Colorado. The drive from Ouray to Durango over Red Mountain Pass is one of my favorites for beauty. I have driven through Pagosa Springs and stopped at a bakery there, getting one of the best sandwiches I've ever eaten. I plan to go back there one of these days also. Safe driving!!
21st August 2013

West Central Colorado
Yes.....having traveled all over Colorado I have settled on the area within a 50 mile radius of Montrose- Ridgway as my favorite area. I intend to return there again before the snow gets too bad. I read that Ouray can get snowed in in winter.

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