June 7, 2022 Durango, CO to Questa, NM

Today we are moving on to Questa, NM where the Grand Canyon of New Mexico can be found. We will be spending 5 nights in the area to be able to see all there is to see. We will be traveling on some designated scenic highways through Colorado and New Mexico. We readied ourselves and the bus and then hooked up the Jeep near the entrance to the campground. We parked near the river in the campground and the Caboose Cafe. This is where they serve breakfast items and pizza.

I noticed the beautiful spring flowers planted there. They even had peonies! I miss my peonies from when I lived in Wisconsin!

We pulled out of the campground at 9:30 onto Highway 160 going east for our 222 mile drive today. It’s not the most direct route, but we have to choose good highways that will get us there safely and with as little hassle as possible. We gassed up the Jeep yesterday at $4.76/gal. and we don’t need fuel for the bus, so it should be smooth sailing. We had partly cloudy skies with a temp of 61 to start the day. Last night it only got down in the low 50’s, so it was warmer than it has been. Leaving the campground , we were in the flats for a few miles before entering the hills again and the San Juan National Forest.

The hillsides were scattered with beautiful log cabins and rustic homes on large parcels of land, grouped in small clusters near small towns. We traveled through the valley between the forested hills. We climbed to an elevation of 7580 ft. and coasted down the other side to 6400 ft. At that point, Chimney Rock came into view.

We have traveled Highway 160 on our travels through Colorado last year, so we are familiar with many of these places. We came upon some construction of a new “animal bridge” being built to allow the elk, deer, cattle, or other animals to cross to the other side.

The bridge was flanked by very tall fencing to keep the animals off the highway. They must have had some major problems with animals in that area to go through all that trouble. There were warning signs about elk and deer in multiple places.

We arrived in Pagosa Springs and pulled off of the highway to make a few phone calls. We were on our way in a couple of minutes. Pagosa Springs is one of the bigger, bustling town in the area.

The San Juan River runs through the city and much of the town is geared to rafting, water sports, and tourists.

There are some really nice campgrounds on the river on the north side of town and I’d really like to come back to Pagosa Springs sometime to spend more time there. Leaving town, we were on the scenic part of Highway 160 heading to Wolf Creek Pass at an elevation of 10,550 ft.

It was a LONG, SLOW, STEADY climb up to the pass, but it was scenic, oh so scenic! We put on our emergency flashers for the climb and climbed at a maximum speed of 40 mph. We took the inner lane for most of the climb, staying away from the outer edge without guardrails. On our drive, we could see waterfalls and snow-capped mountains.

We could look ahead and see where the road would take us. The scenery was beautiful!

There were other vehicles also with their flashers on going slower than we were.

As we were climbing, I got a chance to look back at the valley below us where we came from. It was stunning!

There was still snow in the crevices of the mountains at some of the higher elevations.

We reached Wolf Creek Pass and the Great Continental Divide at an elevation of 10,857 ft.

From there, we made our SLOW descent using our Jake Brake which uses the transmission and the engine as a braking system. They were doing a little roadwork near the pass.

On our way down, we passed Wolf Creek Ski Area. Grayback Mountain sat at an elevation of 12,615 ft. in the area. There was also much more snow on the west-facing side of the mountains.

This road took us through another tunnel just past the ski hill.

Highway 160 runs down the east side of the divide with the San Juan River flowing beside it most of the way.

It wasn’t far before we came upon another tunnel through the mountains. Both times we’ve been past here in the last two years, the side road around the tunnel has been closed.

After coming down from the mountains, we entered the town of South Fork which is easily recognizable by this elk statue on the top of this rock as you enter town.

This is one of the most beautiful scenic drives that I’ve been on in all of my travels with breathtaking views around every corner. The scenic drive ends in the town of Del Norte. We had 2 brief showers as we continued east on Highway 160 after Del Norte. The road then took us on the flats along the railroad tracks for miles to the town of Alamosa. Gas was cheaper there at $4.59/gal. We passed the campground, Cool Sunshine RV Park, that we stayed in when we were here last summer.

We traveled through town and over the very mild-looking Rio Grande River.

A few miles out of town, we could see hints of the sand dunes from the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Eventually, we passed the road to the park which runs along the base of this mountain into the park entrance.

When we visited Great Sand Dunes NP last summer, we stayed at a campground along the road at the base of these mountains.

Up ahead, it looked like the clouds were dropping some rain, but nothing came our way.

In the town of Fort Garland, we picked up Highway 159 south for about 33 miles to the New Mexico border. This is another scenic highway. We were told to watch out for the wild horses that roam in this area.

This stretch of highway was desolate prairie and part of the Old Spanish Trail. We did see a lone antelope at one point, but no wild horses. The Sangre de Cristo Mountains paralleled the road for most of the way.

It was another 20 miles to the town of Questa and to our campground, Questa Lodge and RV Park, off of highway 522.

The lodge called on Sunday to tell us that they are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, so when we arrive, our reservation information will be waiting for us in the door of the office.

No one seemed to be around when we pulled up, so we got our reservation out of the door and followed the road in to where the RV section was located in the back.

We were assigned site R6 which backs up to the river. It was very confusing as to where we were supposed to go. There was a site R6 which was very narrow and just a plain 6 right next door, so we stood around deciding what to do. Another couple in the RV next door came out and tried to help us figure it out. They had been in the campground for 3 days and had been there before, so they were quite helpful. It had been a long 5-hour drive and we were tired. We wanted to get set up and relax, so with their help, we decided to put the bus across both #6 sites at an angle. That would work! The only problem was that the electrical box would be on the wrong side of the bus. Bob figured out a way to get the electrical cord under the bus and over to the box. It actually reached. Once that was done, the rest was easy.

The campground has a river walk along the Red River right behind our site and we’ll get to check it out with Auggie while we’re here.

We finally got to relax a little before dinner. This campground is mostly made up of “live-aboards” and according to our neighbors, they work in the mines all day, come home, eat and fall asleep, so they are very quiet. Bob grilled a steak for dinner and we took Auggie for his walk to check out the campground. The bathrooms/showers are ample and they also have a laundry. Down the road near the entrance is a nice dog park. They have a trout pond where you can fish and if you catch anything they charge you 50 cents an inch to keep it.

Next to the trout pond, there is another pond for their ducks and geese. Auggie really liked to watch them.

We walked back to the bus and got tucked away for the night. We watched some TV and called it an early night. We have a lot to see and explore while we are here for the next 4 days.

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