Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Rockies and Curecanti NRA

Sunday, August 2

We drove south to Buena Vista Sunday and parked with Lee and Debbie, a Lazy Daze couple on their lot. The lot has a fine view of the surrounding mountains.



We followed Lee and Debbie in their tricked up Jeep north to Leadville and then over Mosquito Pass, the highest unpaved road in Colorado. Lee said the road is rated 3 out of 5 in the four-wheeling guide. It’s not difficult, but it is very rough. Thankfully they took us west-to-east as the opposite way is more difficult. Pelli did fine, she only light scraped on a skid pad in a few places.

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What the road looked like

We had some good mountain views all during the tour. While the mountains are 13-14 thousand feet, they are gray granite with dark green Spruce below the timberline. They are not especially photogenic to me any more. My tastes have changed since 1994.

Next we went to a goat farm, where we got to pet the woman’s many Nubian goats and a dozen or so cats. We had more fun than our grandkids could have had. We bought some goat cheese spread.

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Our final destination was half-way up another mountain to a grove of Bristlecone Pines. These are different from the variety in the White Mountains of California. Their bark is white, not golden with resin.

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Lay Day – We did shopping and Dorothy got a haircut. Dorothy cooked a fine meal for the four of us and Lee and Debbie had one of those big birthday cookies for Dorothy.


We went 24 miles south to Salida, dumped and got a few more groceries at Wal*Mart. Judging by the people we saw, there has been a lot of inbreeding in Salida. We find these towns from time-to-time.

Before noon, we were in a campsite on the east side of Monarch Pass at 10,500 feet – the highest we have parked. The elevation will be helpful as it warming up today. Sadly, the CG is not much.


90 miles west of Monarch Pass is the Curecanti NRA. We had never heard of the place until we noted it on a map last week. [We are truly winging it in Colorado, we did not study on places to go and we have made no plans] Anywho, this NRA is on the Gunnison River. You have probably heard of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison NM, well not all of the canyon is within the monument, part of it is here. It is a deep canyon, but the walls are not as dark as it is in the monument.

Our parking spot is really nothing but a striped off place on an asphalt parking lot right on the water. The view is pretty good. The best part is a water hydrant right next to us. Yes, water, cool clear water. All we want. Plus there is a dump a hundred yards away. Water to clean KoKo, Pelli, the yaks and long showers for us. We are in luxury.

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View from parking area

The FS CG’s in the area must not like RV’s as there is only one dump located in a remote area and water is available only through hand pumps.


We took a short drive to see the Curecanti Pinnacle, which is not all that great from above. It may look fantastic at river level. The view into the canyon is much better. At the overlook for the pinnacle, two streams join the Gunnison, so you have a four-way intersection of canyons. The effect really messed with my perception. It appeared that one of the streams was running uphill to me.

Dorothy developed a migraine? headache and that shut her down for the rest of the day. I amused myself patching the seat in her kayak and other little chores.

At 9:45 a travel trailer pulled in right next to us. Dorothy had just gotten to sleep. I went near ballistic. There were 50 equally good empty spaces he could have taken. I went outside and gave him a piece of my mind. He was pleasant. His wife wanted to kill me. They moved. All we needed was to listen to them level the trailer for a half hour. The next morning she put the evil eye on us. Plus they had a slide! No way was it going to fit.

Saturday, August 8

I noted on the Delorme map that the Lake Fork River drains into the Gunnison. The canyon is supposed to be fiord like. That sounded just right for paddling the yaks. I found a road that went to head of the canyon. We were off. The road along Lake Fork was originally the bed for an 1890 era railroad. We passed a dozen people fishing the river and one fellow with small gold dredge. The scenic drive ended about a half mile before we had access to flat water. Plus a few hundred yards downstream was a huge log jam. Foiled!


  1. Don,
    Glad to see you're making new friends.

  2. Wow! These pictures are awesome. I love high mountain lakes and their setting. Makes me anxious to get on the road again.