Thursday, July 28, 2011

Exploring Red Mountain

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There are 3 vividly-colored peaks call the Red Mountains located between Ouray and Silverton.  Their reddish colors come from exposed oxidized iron.  This area was prime for mining silver, lead, zinc, copper, and gold starting in the late 1800’s and well into the 1900’s, but most mines are closed today. 

Their relics are still very common along the 4-wheel-drive trails in the area and one of the best trails to view these old mines is called the Red Mountain trail which parallels the Million Dollar Highway (Route 550) across Red Mountain Pass.  When you drive the highway, there’s a rest area near the top of the pass where you can view a few of these mine buildings in the distance on the mountainside across the highway. 
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Most tourists only see these mines from this distance.

But, fortunately with a 4WD, I could drive right up next to these old mines!  Here’s what the Yankee Girl mine (the same as the one in the middle of the photo above) looks like up close:
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And even from behind!
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The Red Mountain trail also had a few wildflower meadows and I encountered a few deer out eating their dinner.

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The trail supposedly went on for 20 miles, but I somehow took a wrong turn after 4 miles and ended up back on Highway 550.  It worked out fine as it was nearing nightfall and I could always try to pick up the rest of the trail another day.

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