American adventures on Amtrak- Part 7 – The Rockies and The San Juan mountains, Colorado

Our journey from Denver through to Grand Junction on The Californian Zephyr was fantastic. It was a daytime journey and passed right through the heart of The Rocky Mountains. The scenery was breathtaking, we followed the Colorado River through the majority of the journey and we saw hundreds of people enjoying the river, be it on kayaks, dingy, canoes or just swimming. What was hilarious was something that we had been prewarned about- the “locals mooning” at the train as it goes by – we were in stitches when we saw our first- and it kept the whole carriage amused as we played “spot the mooner” Some did to whilst balancing not their dingy, some from the side of the river, some old, some young – it didn’t seem to matter! Hilarious!

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Photos don’t do the journey justice, so I took a selection of videos, which you can see below:

We arrived at Grand junction, Colorado just n time for a dip at the outdoor pool at the hotel (temperature was 38 degrees at 7pm!!!) and a few glasses of local wine and a meal at the local brewhouse. The Colorado wine didn’t blow us away, but the meal was delicious. There were some interesting sculptures dotted along the High Street, including this one of the buffalo, made out of bumpers of cars!

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Next day we had another big day of travel – we were heading to the San Juan mountain range and up to Silverton by coach, then joining the Durango-Silverton narrow gauge railway back down to Durango. Our first rest stop was at the amazing village of Ouray, which is nestled at the foot of the hills, and at the bottom of what the locals call “The Million Dollar Highway”. The town is very small but authentic wild west in style, and had numerous cowboy style buildings from the late 1800s.

2015-08-16 16.30.04 2015-08-16 16.33.41 2015-08-16 16.41.55We met a couple of locals whilst having a drink in Ouray who were excited on our behalf at the prospect of the next leg of our journey. They said that The Million Dollar highway had to be one of the prettiest roads in the world. Well, we are inclined to agree. Our coach driver tackled the steep mountain pass admirably- a few members of our group went pale, but the scenery was simply breathtaking.

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As soon as we arrived at Silverton (named because they used to mine silver there) we knew we were in for a treat. It was so so SO amazing there – really oldey worldly, horse drawn carriages being pulled, old saloon bars, cowboys etc. Absolutely fantastic place, I would really love to go back! We found a saloon bar/restaurant called Grumpy’s – we were enticed by the honky tonk pianist playing. We enjoyed a couple of pints of local beer and a buffalo burger each in an amazing atmosphere.

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Our journey from Silverton to Durango on the narrow gauge railway was absolutely incredible. I still can’t even describe how much we loved it so I’m afraid I’ll have to give you the pics and vids instead!

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