Feature Travel Story

wildflowers, waterfalls, wildlife, and plenty of western mining history

Jeep caravan starting down "stairsteps" to Telluride (in distance).

Jeep caravan starting down “stairsteps” to Telluride (in distance). Click on the image to view a video of this descent from Black Bear Pass into Telluride.

Story by Kathryn R.Burke
All content © San Juan Publishing Group, Inc, All rights reserved.

[Western Colorado, San Juan Mountains.] WHAT WILL WE SEE?  Everybody always asks that,” says Brandy Ross of Ouray’s Switzerland of America 4×4 adventure tours (Tour Video). “They want to know where we go and what to look for.”

“We get the same question,” agree Jimmy Lokey of Red Mountain RV and Denny Martin of Silver Summit, both in Silverton, and Jim and Nita Arnold, Rocky Mountain Jeep Rentals and Pleasant View Resort, Lake City. All three companies rent jeeps and offer lodging and/or RV accommodations, but none to tours. All agree on the answer though: “Wildflowers, waterfalls, wildlife, and plenty of western mining history.’”

Jeep roads (and ATV trails) through the San Juan Mountains are old mining trails once traveled mostly by miners and mules. (Exploring the backcountry.) Many are rugged and rough enough to satisfy those seeking a thrilling, Poughkeepsie Gulch white-knuckle adventure complete with mud, rocks, and sharp dropoffs. Poughkeepsie Gulch. Yet wherever you look, there are enough stunning visual treats to please everyone. The ride up traverses fields of wildflowers.

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Feature Heritage Story

The Utes: “People of the Shining Mountains”

Story by Steven G. Baker. Photography, ©Ute Museum, all rights reserved. All content © San Juan Publishing Group, Inc, All rights reserved.

Utes leaving Colorado for reservation n Utah, 1881

Utes leaving Colorado for reservation n Utah, 1881

[SW Colorado] Eons before lthe gold rush of the 1870s, Colorado’s western slope was home to the Ute Indians, with the valley of the Uncompahgre River being the traditional homeland of the Uncompahgre Band. (Uncompahgre is the Ute word for warm, flowing water.) Spanish descriptions from the 1760s feature Ute legends about their ancestors, who had an ancient spiritual relationship with Ouray’s copious hot springs. Here the Utes cleansed and healed themselves, offering gifts to the waters to appease the mythical “water babies.” As recently as the late nineteenth century, Chief Ouray, the most famous of all Utes, built a small adobe home at hot springs where the Wiesbaden Spa in Ouray is now located.

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Photograph. Utes leaving Colorado for reservation n Utah, 1881. Courtesy Ute Museum, Montrose, Colorado. All rights reserved.

Featured Art Story

Alice Billings, Hug a Horse

Alice BillingsStory and Photography by Kathryn R. Burke

Alice Billings[Ridgway Colorado, 2013] ALICE BILLLINGS IS THE HORSE LADY. Meeting her, talking with her, you sense this immediately. It’s not the scruffy hat, or the manure-bottomed boots, or even the bits of hay in her hair. It’s the look in her eye when she talks about her beloved horses. Then you look at her art and there is no doubt, all that emotion and feeling, color and line, just leaps from the canvas and captures your heart. As it surely has captured hers. Her work is joyous, vibrant, alive. It’s interactive. Makes you want to throw out your arms and just plain, hug a horse!

“I’ve loved horses all my life,” Alice says, “but I never had the opportunity to own one until I moved out here.” Now that the opportunity has arrived, she’s the owner of seven—Thunder, Scout, Dakota, Gus, Oreo, Ryah and Pockets— “of which three are rescues,” she says. “My great family.”

All are subject matter for her colorful, evocative paintings, many of them reminiscent of the Paris “salon” era popular with Picasso and Kandinsky.

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Photography
Top: Slideshow of some of Alice’s artwork
Above: Alice Billings  at home on her ranch with one of her paintings.  © Kathryn R. Burke