Durango to Salida

Tuesday was a travel day.  I finally had to say goodbye to Durango and start heading northeast, deeper into Colorado, to my next stop, the little town of Salida (pronounced sa-LIE-da, according to the majority of people I asked, although opinions seem to differ).  A friend of mine told me about this town and I didn’t get to see it when I was in Colorado a little over a month ago so I decided to add it as a destination on my trip addendum.  I’ll be here two nights before continuing on to Colorado Springs for some bonus time there.

To get to Salida I drove east from Durango, past Pagosa Springs to the little town of South Fork.  There I turned left and proceeded north on Route 149, one of my “purple roads”.  My trips are mainly based on scenic roads and I have an old road atlas in which I have highlighted various roads in various colors.  That is how I plan my routes and stopovers.  Orange roads are my primary focus.  They are listed in my National Geographic book of 275 Scenic Roads in America, my “bible”.  Yellow roads are those which are marked as scenic on the state map but aren’t orange.  They get highlighted if they help “connect the dots” or get me to places which sounds interesting.  Purple roads, like Route 149, are listed in a book which my friend Shawn (a frequent blog commenter) saw at a library and told me about.  I bought a copy and it lists some other scenic roads which weren’t already on my radar.  They become “purple roads”.  I was glad that drew my attention to today’s route, otherwise I would have gone a different way and missed most of what you are about to see.

I actually started out with the intent of driving this route the first time I was in Durango about a month ago but that was as part of a loop which would take me back to Durango and when I got to South Fork I learned that if I stuck to Plan A I wouldn’t get back to Durango until quite a bit after dark, so I abandoned that plan.  Today I am going to Salida so driving this road makes perfect sense.  It was a beautiful, clear day and it was a VERY enjoyable trip.  This is why I do what I do…..

You’ve seen pictures from this overlook before but now there is a little fall color added.




The next picture was taken right after I crossed the Continental Divide for the second time today.


Shortly after taking it I drove through an open area a saw a hawk flying low over a field.  I turned around and went back, with the intent of parking for a while and watching the hawk with my binoculars.  Well, by the time I went back and parked it was gone.  Evidently it caught it’s prey and went off to have a nice picnic lunch.

That thought made me hungry, and it was midday, so I stopped a little further up the road to have a picnic lunch of my own.  This was the view looking left from where I was parked.  You are looking at Mount Baldy Cinco, which tops out at 13,383 feet.  When I took this I was parked at 10,935 feet and it was 51 degrees at 1230pm local time.  The sun was out (duh) and it wasn’t all that windy so it was great place to take a break, enjoy the view, and get some fresh air.


This was taken (stopped in the road, Shawn) after resuming my drive and just before reaching Slumgullion Pass, which is at 11,530 feet.


This was from an overlook just before I reached the little town of Lake City.  While I was stopped here another vehicle pulled in and I talked with those folks for a little while.  They are from Nashville and are on their way to Salt Lake City to attend a college football game.  They told me they had driven south from Denver to get away from the snow which hit west of there yesterday.  Apparently the town of Dillon, up in the mountains near Breckenridge, got 15 inches of snow while I was riding the train north of Durango yesterday!  I am heading north over the next two weeks and will have to closely monitor the weather, as well as develop a Plan B in case I need to hunker down or change my route.  I may need to buy chains for the car (they are mandatory to travel some roads in Colorado under certain conditions).  Good thing I just put new all-season tires on my car!


This is looking down on Lake Cristobal, which you will learn more about in the next post.




This is a small part of the Blue Mesa Reservoir, the largest body of water in Colorado.  It stretches east-to-west along Route 50 and it was at the point where Route 149 ended after reaching Route 50.  From here I took Route 50 east to Salida.  Next year when I come back to Grand Junction in May to revisit Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park I will have to add some time to visit parts of this lake, which is part of the Curecanti National Recreation Area.  I stopped in parts of it today to kill time before getting to Salida in time for dinner before it got dark, and it is a great place to relax.



I will post some pictures taken today with the digital camera in the near future (perhaps when I get snowed in somewhere!).  Tomorrow I may drive north on some scenic roads towards Dillon but I’ll have to check the weather and road conditions first.  They are well equipped to handle snow on the roads out here and I think what happened Monday may have just been a freak, early Fall event.  It got up to almost 70 here today, although it cools down quickly when the sun starts going down.  As I post this at 538am local time it is 46 degrees in Salida.  Yesterday morning it was 39 degrees when I left Durango.


Slumgullion Earthflow

That is the fancy name given to this massive landslide which occurred over 850 years ago.  A large portion of the top of Mesa Seco, weakened by rain, finally gave way and 4,000 tons of dirt slide down the hill.  This dammed up a river and created Lake Cristobal, the second largest natural lake in Colorado.

A second slide occurred approximately 350 years ago.  That clump of dirt is still moving downhill at about 20 feet per year.


This is from the bottom of the hill looking up:


And looking 45 degrees to the left from where I took that picture I saw this more recent area, right next to the road:


I decided I’d better keep on moving down the road before the road started moving on it’s own….  Besides, I was anxious to get to my next stop (see next post).

Alferd Packer site

This was my “never saw that coming” find for the day.  As I was saying goodbye to some folks I was talking to at a scenic overlook one of them said – “Oh, and be sure to check out the cannibalism memorial before you get in to the next town…”.


I’ll let the signage at the site tell the story.  This was just south of Lake City, Colorado.




And while this is all very serious and disturbing I found this quote on the sign to be even more strange:


Hmmm… Cannibalism…  Eating Democrats…  I hope Trump doesn’t get any ideas.