What’s dangerous about traveling over Red Mountain Pass to Montrose?
Well, to start with, look at the altitude: The first pass, Coal Bank is 10,640 feet, then, Molas Pass is 10,800 feet, and the top of Red Mountain Pass, is 11.091 feet.
Then, when you are driving on the highest section of the passes, there are shoulders with no guardrails. Drivers share the two-lane road with sheer drops down to the bottom of the canyons.
On the way to the town of Ouray, you can look across the road to the other mountain, which is mostly rock. One awesome item is the house you can see on the rock across the canyon and higher up. It’s an old mining house, which is left over from the gold mining days.
For the few years we lived in Vallecito, and while traveling to Montrose to visit my relatives, I always wanted to see the pair of red long johns hanging on a clothes line. You almost have to know it’s there to see it, as there isn’t a space to stop to look.
There are a few places to stop, (not there), but they are few and usually on the other side of the road.
In the winter if you dare head over Red Mountain Pass , it would be possible to see huge ice cycles hanging down from the rocks that look like organ pipes. But, going over the pass during winter is not advisable, and there is a memorial near the top of the pass where three men died trying to clear the road.
Ouray is called the Switzerland of America, for it is tucked into a canyon. The original old mining street buildings still stand on the street, but now, the offerings in the stores sell to the tourist trade. Tourism in Ouray has grown tremendously since I remember being there.
Silverton, before Ouray, is the town where the train from Durango dumps tourists off, and where they can eat and buy trinkets. The train has stopped operating, as there is snow on the mountains.
Silverton is unspoiled with dirt streets, old houses and buildings and in a beautiful setting. I’d like to live there.
After Ouray, the next town of interest to me, is Ridgeway, where the movie True Grit was made.
My dad built the paddy wagon that was used in the movie, and it sits at the entrance to the city. I would love to have his name on it, but instead, the names of the men who restored it and donated it to the city, have their names on it. There was a time I tried to get the Ridgeway Chamber of Commerce to include Lawrence Revere Kruse on the paddy wagon, but that didn’t happen. My dad didn’t care if he got credit or not.