Recapping, we fled Durango on the last day before they locked up the gate on our road for the season and headed East. We were armed with suggestions from Doug and Caroline. The first suggestion was Pagosa Springs. We rolled into Pagosa Springs and marveled at the mountains that loomed over the town like the sulfur steam from the Springs. Due to the recent snowfall we were hamstrung on camping places and had to camp in a “non approved” spot north of town just inside the national forest boundary. It was brutally cold, and we didn’t stay long enough to even unload the bike. We stopped long enough the next morning to snap some cool pics of the hot springs river that runs directly through the heart of town. Along the banks are scattered commercial hot springs facilities. It is cute but expensive.
The second third and fourth suggestion lie over Wolf Creek Pass. A spectacular and nerve-wracking drive over the 11,000 foot pass was rewarded with a drive by of Wolf Creek Ski Area. This ski hill receives the most snow in colorado… Once again day late and a dollar short.
We descended into the Rio Grande valley and drove through suggestion two and three. Del Norte, and Alamosa respectively. Both were OK, shortly we found ourselves camped at the bottom of the majestic Mt. Blanca in the San Luis valley.
“The Valley” is a mecca for growing marijuana due to it’s climate AND has one of the highest concentrations of UFO sightings in the country. Coincidence? We think so! As wonderful as this campsite was, it would have been down right spectacular in warmer weather. The clouds rolled in accompanied by snow, we checked out the town and attempted to thaw our frozen holding tanks with limited success. Lets just say, 3 hours of pouring hot water, antifreeze, salt in them, and holding a blowdryer on them KINDOF worked. The general consensus was that we should go to our next prospect, Salida. The only thing that stood in our way was a side trip to Great Sand Dunes National Park and the Cosmic Highway.
Great Sand Dunes was not even a blip on our radar, and ended up being one of the coolest parks we visited. Once again our park pass paid for itself in spades. GSD NP also was the most dog friendly National Park we have visited. The whole time we were there I expected to see Jabba’s barge come flying over the dunes!
We hiked all around the dunes and took in the views. Stunning!
As much as we didn’t want to leave, we headed on down the road, over La Poncha pass, and down into Salida.