July 15, 2020 Montrose, CO Last Dollar Road 4WD (Day 5)

We were slow to get up and running out of steam, but there was so much more to see and do. We met at 10:00 and headed out to do a 4WD trail–Last Dollar Road (Class 1, Easy). Before leaving town we stopped at Subway to grab some sandwiches to take along for lunch. We took Highway 50 to 62 for our turnoff near Ridgway. The road cuts through some private property and is a public access road. The road was wide and nicely packed gravel. There were no big rocks or ruts.

The scenery was awesome as we started our climb to Owl Creek Pass at 10,212 ft.

The road climbed and climbed and we were able to see this rock formation from all different sides. It was a sunny and warm day in town, but up in the mountains it was cloudy and cooler.

We started calling this rock Devil’s Tower because it resembles the monument in South Dakota.

Huge stands of aspens were tucked into the hillsides and looked so beautiful with their white trunks against the dark green leaves and ferns.

We stopped to stretch our legs and got some good pictures of “Devil’s Tower” and the snow at the top. We also took some air out of the tires to improve the ride.

Randy spotted these large purple thistles that were attracting these blue butterflies along the road. They had blue iridescent wings on the topside. The butterflies seemed to love it.

We continued on and stopped for lunch at the marker that designated Owl Creek Pass.

There were a couple of cars already there enjoying this spot by the creek. We checked it out too.

While we were standing there looking around. two huge road graders came along to smooth out this section of road by us. They turned around right at the pass and went down the other side from the direction they came from.

We ate our sandwiches and hung around for awhile. It was cooler up in the mountains–in the 60’s.

It started to rain lightly, but nothing to take cover from. After awhile, it thundered and it began to rain harder. I headed for the Jeep, but everyone else took cover under the pine trees. I guess they weren’t getting very wet because they stayed there for quite awhile as it rained even harder. The temp now dropped into the 50’s. After it started to let up and the skies lightened, they all returned to the Jeep and we continued on, only to get stuck behind the graders a little way down the road. We followed them for a short distance and realized that there really wasn’t a place for them to pull over to let us and 2 other cars pass by, so we decided to turn around and headed back down.

By now, the road was all churned up and loose from the graders. It was muddy from the rain and much of the gravel from the road was being kicked up in chunks and landing all over the Jeep. As we drove back down the road, we could hear it and see it being flown in the air.

We stopped and Bob got out to look. Mud was caked everywhere there was a place to go. It was in the handles, fenders, wheel wells, and tires. Gobs of mud were flying up and landing on the windshield. This was just a sample of what we saw.

In a meadow along the road, I spotted a doe and while we were watching her, not one but 2 spotted fawns appeared. Then another “teenager” joined them. Soon they wandered off into the woods.

We came around a bend and encountered these cows in the road. They startled us, just standing there, looking at us. After a few minutes, they ran away.

Going down the road further, I spotted a huge mule deer in a field. By now, we were all on the lookout for wildlife.

Then Jane was the next to spot a group of about 8 elk at the edge of the woods.

Jane saw two more mule deer as we moved on down the road. They trotted off after we stopped.

Bob was next to spot a huge herd of elk in a large field off in the distance. We had to use the binoculars to identify them. We tried to find a road that would take us a little closer to the herd to get a better view, but we couldn’t find one, so we continued on.

We reached a large green valley where Bob spotted another huge herd of elk. We counted about 60.

We stopped to get out and take some pictures. While we were stopped, we took the opportunity to put air back into the tires. It took about 30 minutes, but everyone enjoyed watching the elk while we waited.

It was a magnificent scene with the snow-capped mountains in the background. We hated to leave, but the tires were full and the elk had moved into the cover of the trees to bed down for the night.

We were finally out of the mountains and on our way home via Highway 50. Back in town, we dropped Ran and Jane off at the City Market to pick up some groceries while Bob and I went to nearby car wash to get rid of the mud.

The timing worked out perfectly. As we returned with a clean Jeep, they were just finishing up. We returned to the campground around 3:30 and had to settle some confusion with our reservation at the campground. They screwed up and are making us move to another site for tomorrow. Whatever! We are leaving on Friday morning for Moab, UT anyhow. Randy cancelled his Thursday night reservation because he got lucky and got a reservation in Crested Butte for one night where Jane wanted to check out the wildflowers there. Crested Butte has a wildflower festival in early July, but hopefully the wildflowers will still be in bloom. Ran and Jane were leaving on Friday also to head back to their home in Silverthorne. They have reservations for Gunnison on Friday and Saturday as they head for home. Once we got all the reservations issues straightened out, all was good. Ran and Jane came over to cook burgers at our site for our last dinner together.

We were treated to a rainbow as it rained somewhere nearby.

We hung out until the sun started to set and then Auggie got his walk.

We joined Ran and Jane for our last campfire.

We headed back to the bus after an awesome day!

It was a wild and wonderful wildlife day!

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