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How long a drive: Silverton to Ouray by jeep roads?

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How long a drive: Silverton to Ouray by jeep roads?

In mid Sept we will be taking the train from Durango to Silverton. We were then planning to rent a car and continue on to Ouray along the Million Dollar Highway but I have not been able to locate a rental car company in Silverton. I guess that has turned out to be a blessing in disguise as I would not have discovered the option to rent a jeep and travel the jeep roads to Ouray.

It doesn't seem that far and should be easily driven in an afternoon. Is that a correct assumption? Also, what are some of the sights to stop for along the way?

Once in Ouray, the hot springs and Box Canyon Falls seem to be the sights not to be missed. How much time should be allowed to enjoy these?

Lastly, is there a way to Bridal Veils Falls that doesn't require one to be an expert jeep driver? (other than the Highway)

Thanks for any help on these questions.

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Silverton, CO
Santa Fe, New Mexico
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1. Re: How long a drive: Silverton to Ouray by jeep roads?

I'm not a jeep person, so I don't think I will be able to help you much.

From Silverton to Ouray on Highway 550 it is about 45 minutes. I do not know if there is a backcountry jeep trail that also goes there. The best thing to do is talk to the experts at the jeep rental place, and also purchase a guide book.

I wish I could help you more. Have fun.

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2. Re: How long a drive: Silverton to Ouray by jeep roads?

I can speak to a 4x4 road that connects Ouray and Silverton. It is called Black Bear Rd and it is HARD! I've been four-wheeling my entire life and consider myself very experienced and this road almost made me turn around. It is steep, extremely narrow,full of very large boulders that you must have a high enough ground clearance to cover and there are plenty of sheer drop-offs. If you have never jeeped before, I don't suggest this be the road you start on! This road does go to Bridal Veil Falls, but there is a much easier way!

Go east through town on Colorado Avenue toward the mountain, pass the old Pandora Mill on your left, and follow the road marked County Road. Continue on this dirt road and go up the switchbacks for 1.2 miles to the bottom of falls, or go the extra .6 miles to the top of the falls. Hope this helps! The road is rocky and dirt, but you should be fine. The road changes with the weather conditions. When I was last there, 4x4 high was fine, no need to go into 4x4 low, but the road may have changed this year.

Other than that, I've heard through the grapevine that Red Mountain Pass goes from Silverton to Ouray and is less difficult. I've never done it though,so i can't say what it's like.I believe it hooks up to a few different jeep roads, so make sure you have a map before you go, you don't want to get lost out there! You will most likely never get above 15 mph,so the trip will take much longer than if you were on the Million Dollar Hwy(550). Sorry this is so long! Hope this help!

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3. Re: How long a drive: Silverton to Ouray by jeep roads?

my family and I go 4-wheeling in the area every summer for the last 8 years PLEASE DONT DO BLACK BEAR PASS. All jeep rentals in the area will not let you take their vehicle over that road. The last 3 years that we have done Black Bear Pass there has been a forest ranger at the top encouraging people to turn around if you do not have experience.

From telluride you can follow the main road through town and it will take you to Bridal Veil Falls.

For box cayon please allow your self 2 and a half to 3 hours.

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4. Re: How long a drive: Silverton to Ouray by jeep roads?

Yes there is. We did it last summer. There are obviously multiple ways to go. This is what we did:

Let me preface by saying:

We own a Jeep and it has been modified. My husband is extremely experienced in Jeeping. There are some areas on Jeep trails that while the stock Jeeps that you can rent can do it, it would make me very, very nervous to do so, especially if you aren't sure of what you are doing......

From Silverton we took the trail first to Animas Forks. I'm using our Jeeping book right now to see our route so I can give you ideas on what they say driving times are and difficulty ratings. Driving time 45 minutes, difficulty rating 1. Lot of history here. We stopped and did rock hunting off the main road.

We continued on to Lake City and then around to Ouray. That is a long route and cannot be done in an afternoon safely in my opinion.

You can cut over on the North Fork Cutoff. Driving time 20 minutes and difficulty rating of 3.

From there you will get on a short part of Engineer Pass Road. Time I can't say because they list the whole road, not that piece. Going this way you are avoiding the most difficult part of Engineer which I would avoid if you aren't experienced. It is very narrow with shelf roads in some parts and there would be a lot of pulling over for oncoming traffic and a lot of backing up sometimes to let people pass.

That road then runs into US550 and you zip down into Ouray.

As far as Bridal Veil Falls. The only way to actually get to it would be Black Bear Pass which you should absolutely not do.

According to my book, you can see Bridal Veil Falls and the switchbacks of Black Bear from Imogene Pass Road. Out of Ouray you will take Yankee Boy Basin Road to Imogene Pass Road and that will then take you down to Telluride. Along the way is Camp Bird Mine, Tomboy Ghost Town and other historic things. We have not done this trail so from that standpoint, I'm just going off what is in the book. Which I would recommend you get one if you are going to get off on some Jeep trails. There are some creek crossing which shouldn't pose a problem in September and the road does narrow for the last bit so you can expect some pulling over for passing.

Hope this helps.....

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5. Re: How long a drive: Silverton to Ouray by jeep roads?

Thanks for all the tips. They will definitely help with our planning.

Regarding Bridal Veils Falls, my husband has some jeeping experience but the jeep rental company doesn't allow people to go Black Bear which they say has a good chance of snow in mid Sept. and sounds way out of our league anyway. They said Imogene Pass might be possible. If not there's always the highway although kind of misses the point of having an off road vehicle.

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6. Re: How long a drive: Silverton to Ouray by jeep roads?

Hi there- just back from our third trip to that area.

If you are arriving by train, frankly you will not have time to see many trails or get very far from town as I think youd only have a few hours before the train returns to Durango. Most people get off, find food, mill about in the few tourist oriented shops, wander the streets for a while and start to eyeball the train so it doesnt leave without them. If you have an overnite stay or day or two you have more options.

As a route to Ouray and back one option I dont see mentioned here is to start out early from Silverton, take the Ophir Pass trail/road over to Highway 145 that leads into Telluride, then either tour Telluride or continue over Imogene Pass trail to the Yankee Boy Basin trail on into Ouray, then take highway 550 back to Silverton. This should be doable in a long day depending on how much and long you stop to gawk at the views.

As others have said here avoid Black Bear as a rental driver, there are local tour companies that will drive you over it if you MUST be right at Bridal veil falls, etc. however it is one of those trails that also frequently is closed due to rockslides, etc. and thus you'd need to continue to confirm it is open right up to the morning you plan to go. Not a bad idea in fact to check on conditions for any of the trails even in summer, once you see them you will know what I mean.

Highly recommend picking up the book "4WD Trails of Southwest Colorado " by Peter Massey and Jeanne Wilson, I wouldnt go jeeping in that area without it.

Happy to answer other questions if you still need info...

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7. Re: How long a drive: Silverton to Ouray by jeep roads?

Thanks Staybolt. I agree this would not be possible if returning by train the same day but we have allowed for an overnight in Ouray. We will definitely have to get some maps before we go.

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Ouray
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8. Re: How long a drive: Silverton to Ouray by jeep roads?

I would say the best jeep route would be to follow the suggestion to head out of Silverton to Eureka, and follow one of the routes into Ouray on the south side of Engineer Pass. I wouldn't suggest this if you are an inexperienced 4-wheel driver. While this is not as difficult as Black Bear Road (which by the way does NOT go from Silverton to Ouray, but rather from Red Mountain Pass over to Telluride), it will be a formidable task for an afternoon drive, but should be gorgeous in mid-September.

Ophir Pass over to Telluride side of the mountain would be your best bet to get over to Telluride to see Bridal Veil falls, but Tomboy/Imogene Pass is a pretty good haul out back over to Ouray, so I'd do either Lost Dollar Road around Mt. Sneffels over to the highway to Ridgeway, or just stick to the paved road out of Telluride and go to Ouray through Ridgeway. Any way you cut it the drive will be beautiful and a long afternoon (unless you stick to the Million Dollar Highway (550). You can go up towards Yankee Boy Basin or Engineer Pass off of that road after you get to Ouray and won't be pressed to make a destination.

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9. Re: How long a drive: Silverton to Ouray by jeep roads?

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10. Re: How long a drive: Silverton to Ouray by jeep roads?

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