Unaweep Tabeguache Byway (Part 6 of 8)

May 28, 2008  •  Leave a Comment

The 85 mile western leg of San Juan Skyway was not as an exciting ride as the east side. The east side was a breathtaking and heart-pounding ride. The west side, although beautiful with snowcapped mountain back drops, did not have the steep cliffs and slopes of the San Juan Mountains. Yet, it is probably a treacherous ride in the winter or during the spring thaw as evidenced by the many signs announcing avalanche zones, but in late spring that suspense seemed to not exist. Continuing north on CR 145 on one hundred plus miles of the San Juan, I was accompanied by the roaring sounds of the Dolores River. The Dolores River is a white water rafters dream, with points of it looking like an angry pot of boiling water.

While cruising down the road in the Dove Creek area, my eye saw a rusted metal structure nearly 25 feet tall. It looked like a good subject to photograph. It was some sort of pulley system that is used to transport goods across the river by using man power. It reminded me of the times when I was younger visiting family in Sicily. At the time, and probably still today, farmers and bakers would drive through the streets yelling out the names of products that they were selling from their three-wheeled vehicles. Baskets tied to ropes would be used to move the goods from the street below to buyers on second story balconies above.

Continuing the drive north on CR 145, the San Juan Skyway cuts through old mining towns. After passing through Dolores, I came across and paused in the old mining town of Rico with it’s abandoned mining structures, consisting of rusted gears, pulleys and wire. This relic of the past remains as a reminder of the once prosperous silver mining town, but today Rico lives on as a tiny town with no mining industry. Returning to my journey north, I drove in the shadows of the snowcapped San Barnardo and Sunshine and Sheep mountains, enjoying their splendor.

As I continued north, I decided to detour for one more National Park. I decided that Utah would be my next destination and my direction went westward. I diverted off of the San Juan Skyway and followed the Unaweep Tabeguache Scenic Byway and for a stretch the sounds of San Miguel River replaced the sounds of the Delores. The run-off from the spring’s warmth also made this an angry path for thrill seekers that prefer the violent churning of the water under their seats instead of smooth rubber wheels.

Unaweep is indian for “where land come together,” and while driving westward though Colorado, the cool and sometimes cold drive through the mountains and canyons would become dry and hot with views of cattle ranges. The landscape would soon become the flat deserts of Utah. I took the opportunity to pull to the side of the road just east of the states’ border near the town of Paradox, Co to relax and listen to the silence of the desert and snap a self-portrait with the Uncompahgre Forest and Gunnison mountain range in the background. As the day came to a close, I concluded this 117 mile leg of my journey and decided to spend the night in Moab, Utah. The gateway to Arches National Park.


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