Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Up and Over Imogene Pass...

Jellystone RV Park of the Black Canyon
Montrose, CO
July 28, 2014

The Imogene Pass road was built in 1880 for access to Ouray from the Tomboy Mine. Tomboy Mine was situated high above Telluride.  

We began the trail on Camp Bird Road (see the Yankee Boy Basin post). There are signs for a left turn for Imogene about 6.8 miles into Camp Bird Road. We were glad this SUV was first at the Imogene  Creek crossing.  

Sue and Paul (who we met last year in Moab )  ( have a brand new home here in Montrose. They suggested this trail...a winner in our book! 

We led, Paul and Sue followed and Ronnie and Carol brought up the rear.

Our trusty Guide book states...
Moderate. Do not take this trip lightly. The road is rocky, steep, and narrow in places and passing can be dangerous. Stock SUVs should have low-range gearing, 4-wheel drive, high clearance, and skid plates.

On our first stop I noticed this patch of growth peeking thru the very wet ground.

The higher we climbed the more the flowers flourished...

 I think I made a mistake in identifying this white flower. On the Ophir Pass we saw them growing tall among the aspens. I called it Queen Anne's Lace. I bought a book (Wild About Wildflowers by Katherine Darrow) today in Ouray and now I think they are Cow Parsley which can grow to 6 feet tall. Both plants are in the Parsley family.  
  A quote from Edna St. Vincent Millay..."I will be the gladdest thing under the sun! I will touch a hundred flowers and not pick one." I think I was the gladdest thing!

Near and above the treeline we saw clumps of tundra paintbrush...a first for me.

And here we are...Imogene Pass at 13,114 feet. Imogene Pass is the highest pass road in the San Juan Mountains. It is also the second highest pass road in the U.S.

 I think this is a weather station at the pass.

Did I mention spectacular views?

 A look at Telluride...
 These tiny yellow flowers were enjoying the day...
They were no more that 5 inches tall.

Alpine Buttercups...common above the treeline. They are usually pollinated by flies which are more cold-hardy than bees.

Carol caught me stomping thru the snow...

We had gone a little over 5 miles (just on Imogene pass) to reach the top.

The ride down took us past mountains of snow...

...thru more meadows of wildflowers...

...around and past Tomboy Ghost Town... the rain and clouds...

 ...thru Social Tunnel...

...close to the wet aspen leaves...

 ...and right into Telluride.
This was the last ride for us this trip to Montrose...each ride a little higher in elevation and a little more difficult. All three rides were spectacular in their own way. I have never seen meadows and fields of wildflowers like the ones I saw on these rides. This is a perfect time of year to visit...even with the rains and storms we enjoyed every afternoon. Returning to the Montrose-Ouray area is definitely something we want to do...maybe we will see what its like in the fall.

Until next time...

happy trails!
Up next...a hike on Pass Creek Trail...


  1. Love all the wildflowers. Summer really shines with blooms during this time of year.

    1. We seem to be here at just the right time for all the summer colors Jeri!

  2. Such amazing scenery, thanks for taking us along.

  3. That's one way to cool off, head for the snow line. I love all of the wildflower photos you post. What guide do you use to identify them?

    1. Thank you Gayle...the wildflowers have been colorful and bountiful for sure. I did by a new book the other day...Wild About Wildflowers by Darrow. There are also lots of internet sites to help identify them. I enjoy doing the research and learning about them.

  4. SO beautiful! There really is nothing like those CO mountains! Your photos are exquisite.

  5. Spectacular scenery! I love all the snow:) Was the warning in the book accurate about the road conditions? You didn't mention any challenging places. Love those flowers:)

    1. The trail was not that challenging Pam...just narrow and steep. Absolutely no room to pass an on-coming vehicle near the summit. Someone would have to back up! I am sure that is why it is rated moderate...there was a couple of places with smaller ledges and rocks to climb, but not that serious.

  6. Enjoyed the ride! The wildflowers are beautiful and the scenery is spectacular. Your photos are fantastic

    1. Thank you Joan...we have enjoyed our stay here.

  7. I really like that pic with the creek and the mountain in the mist.

    1. Thank you Judy...If my memory serves me correctly that is Black Bear Falls. It is the biggest falls we saw...quite the view!

  8. WOW, beautiful Gay. My heart is yearning for the west! Photography is excellent!