Located in the San Juan mountain range, right off the notorious million dollar highway lies Silverton Colorado. Silverton is a small town bustling with activity from tourist shopping and eating along Main Street. Sitting in the middle of Main Street is a bright pink building that is home to Thee Pitts Again BBQ, an award winning barbecue restaurant that has been featured on Diners, Drive-inns, and Dives.
We ordered a variety and shared between all of us at the table. We had chopped brisket, pulled pork, slab of ribs, corn, potato salad, corn bread, beans, and fried pickles.
I have never had much luck with barbecue in tourist towns, but Thee Pitts Again changed that. The food was very good. The pulled pork and brisket were tender, juicy, with good smoke flavor. The ribs were cooked perfectly with a good bark and that same smokey flavor that makes you want to come back for more. The corn was just a basic corn, the potato salad was good, corn bread was delicious, and the beans had good flavor that complimented the meats. Everyone at the table enjoyed their meal on that rainy afternoon. I would definitely recommend Thee Pitts Again Barbecue if you are in Silverton. The scenery around town is definitely worth exploring while you are there.
After a few amazing days in Lake City we made our way around the mountains to Ouray Colorado. Ouray is a quaint mountain town that is a hub for San Juan mountain adventures. Offering plenty of food and lodging options, Jeep and ATV rental, off-road trail access, hot springs, spas, and stunning mountain views. Ouray has everything you need. Ouray sits along the famous “million dollar highway” U.S. 550 between Silverton and Ridgway.
The mountains surrounding Ouray are absolutely stunning. Everywhere you look while you are in town is a picturesque view. Cascade Falls is signature feature of town. A very short walk and you can be standing right next to the falls.
Box Canyon Falls is another short walk to spectacular views. Box Canyon comes with a cover charge though. $10 per group gets you in. Parking is limited so you might have to park on the road and walk a short distance. Box Canyon is a unique feature and worth the time and entry fee.
Ouray being located along the million dollar has many opportunities for trail access. Since this was our first off roading trip we did not tackle the more difficult trails in the area. There is access to Yankee Boy basin, Imogene Pass, Black Bear Pass, and many others. One morning we headed down 550 and took Hurricane Pass to get an amazing view of Lake Como. The unique color of the water is spectacular and pictures can not do it justice. I would recommend stopping at the lake for lunch. Hurricane Pass is a moderate trail, and a fun one to drive. There was not a lot of traffic the day we drove compared to the Alpine Loop, but the views were just as stunning.
There a few different way to get to Telluride from Ouray. You can take Black Bear pass, Ophir Pass, Last Dollar Road, or the paved way highway 62 out of Ridgway. We chose to try out Last Dollar RD for a more relaxing drive (I had done a lot of driving at this point). There are warning signs that the road becomes extremely muddy when it rains so pay attention the weather report and watch the sky. About a mile down the road we came across a large herd of Elk. We love watching the wildlife in Colorado. Last Dollar rd is a fun drive and at one point towards the top we were looking down the planes arriving at Telluride airport, a unique view for sure. If you are base camping in Ouray carve out half a day to check out Telluride. It is an upscale mountain town that still has small town charm. Grab a cup of coffee, stroll down Main Street, pop in and out of the shops, and enjoy the view of Bridal Vail Falls.
Overall our time in Ouray was amazing! I hope I never forget sitting on the patio of Red Mountain Brewery in the rain watching the multiple waterfalls form on the surrounding mountains, sharing a drink with my amazing. Or meeting great people and chatting at the rooftop bar at the Ouray Brewery. The trails we traveled, and the sometimes foul language coming from the passenger seat when the trail got narrow, haha. We loved our time in Ouray and the San Juans mountains, and we will be returning this summer. To all the travelers and adventures out there get to the San Juans. There isn’t a better place to base camp than Ouray. Explore the trails, see the wildlife, smell the wildflowers, and have a cold beer and meet some new people in a rooftop bar surrounded by beautiful mountains. Cheers.
This summer we took our first trip to San Juan mountains. This is an area of Colorado that is known for its off-road trials, so I have been wanting to take our jeep there for quite some time. We started our stay in Lake City, a small community that caters to off-roaders and their needs. Right outside of Lake City is where you can find Colorados largest nature lake, Lake San Cristobal. The lake is gorgeous, and The Inn at the Lake was a perfect spot for our stay. A quiet place with amazing staff, and delicious breakfast. The Inn at the Lake is one of our favorite places we have ever stayed, and a return stay is definitely in our future.
Lake San Cristobal was the perfect place for us to start our exploring, it is hub for what is known as the Alpine Loop. A 60 plus mile long off-road trail that is made up of Cinnamon Pass, Animas forks, and Engineer Pass.
Cinnamon is first up when you start out at Lake San Cristobal. It is rated as an easy trail. It has a rocky terrain, and steep drop offs in spots but a high clearance vehicle with proper tires is all that is needed. There are some other trails off of the main route, one that was recommended to us to explore was the American basin. It was wild flower season while we were there and the American Basin is one of the best places in the area to see colors of the flowers. Linked is a short video of our trip up Cinnamon pass. https://youtu.be/0lGQL59hbv8
Cinnamon Pass ends at the historic Animas Forks townsite. Give yourself time there to explore the structures. You can venture into Silverton for coffee and a bite of breakfast at Coffee Bear, before heading back Animas Forks and up Engineer Pass back into Lake City.
Engineer Pass is considered one of Colorados most scenic, and trust me it lives up to its reputation. It can be intimidating in spots, but wow what drive. Engineer is a Jeep badge of honor trail, but is not an extremely technical trail. The views you will see traveling up from Animas Forks to the summit are stunning. I cannot recommend this trail enough. Even if you do not have a Jeep, or vehicle capable of the trail get to the San Juans and rent one. You will not be disappointed. Click the link for a video of our trip on Engineer Pass. https://youtu.be/lGXnu8EBM3E
After a full day on the trail we decided it was time to relax and grab some dinner. Lake City has many great places to grab a bite to eat, even a couple of BBQ options. It was a Sunday night when we got off Engineer and arrived back in town and Southern Vittles had ribs on special for 19.99 that night so naturally that is what I chose. It was very good, especially for the price. It came with hush puppies and fries. I would eat this every Sunday night if I lived there. The wife had a pulled pork and sausage sandwich that she was very happy with.
Our time in Lake City was short, but memorable. We were moving on to the other side of the mountains to continue our San Juan adventure in Ouray Colorado. We will cover our time in Ouray in another post, but I will tell you we have a return trip to Ouray booked already. In the meantime keep traveling, exploring, spending time with loved ones, and eating good food.