Colorado - 25th September - 13th October 2013

Our visit to Colorado in the summer had been a bit of a washout. We checked out the forecasts and it seemed we would have more luck this time. The only kind of precipitation to worry about would be of the white and very cold type!

Nervous about the forecasts of snow and temperatures way below freezing during the night, we set up camp on the shore of North Delaney Lake. The first day brought a biting cold wind, making a walk around the lake a bracing affair, casting a fly line quite a tricky proposition. Finally Phil was convinced to take to the water in his float tube, after all the water was warmer than the air!

Sure enough, behind the bitter wind, came the snow, which fortunately didn't stick or arrive in any quantity which would mean us living on the shore of the lake until the spring!

Fishing before the snowstorm

North Delaney Lake


We soon tired of the chilly wind and surprising crowd of anglers at the lake on the weekend and began to head south, spending an even colder night at a chilly 21 degrees Fahrenheit on the banks of the Blue River. Early next morning we headed to the next town, Silverthorne to a reported fishing hot spot located behind the Outlet Mall. The reputation proved true and a couple of happy hours were spent by the fisherman behind the outlet mall, in company with a multitude of other fly fisherman. Meanwhile a couple of happy hours were spent by Christine in the Outlet Mall, perfect!

As our route south would more or less take us to the Frying Pan River we gave the fishing there another try. On our first day there, Phil joined the huddle of fly fishermen and women right at the outlet from the dam, where the huge fish hung out. He landed a couple but decided it wasn't much fun, so spent the next morning stalking smaller fish further downstream. The autumnal colours of the valley were stunning but as on our last visit we found the fishing waters a little too crowded for our taste.

Our planned route was to take us through Aspen and over Independence Pass, an awesome 12,093 feet above sea level. However as we headed south, the warning signs about ice on the road surface at the pass deterred us from making this crossing, instead we turned around and took route 133 south. Here we were rewarded with more beautiful scenery before arriving in Montrose by late afternoon.

Frying Pan River

Clearing Loose Rocks on Route 133

Phil had planned on fishing in his favourite spot in the town, just behind Target at the Mall. Unfortunately several days of rain had preceded our arrival, leaving the river water heavily coloured. CJ at the fly shop suggested that our best option would be to fish the Uncompahgre at Ridgway State Park, not really a hardship as it was a beautiful spot and had a laundry and hot showers. We spent a couple of days down at the park, heading back to camp for free at the friendly Walmart in Montrose each evening. By the time the fisherman was finished fishing each day, it was already dark for the drive back to the town and we had to keep a careful watch for Kamikaze Deer on the road. Luckily the one which attempted an attack, Harvey-the-RV managed to avoid!

The tiny fly …..........

.and the huge fish it caught!

Wildlife at Ridgway State Park.

With another cold and snowy snap forecast, we were keen not to be stuck on the wrong side of Monarch Pass, so headed across to Salida through two sets of major delays at roadworks. In Salida we found ourselves a spot in the surprisingly still busy free camp ground on the Arkansas river outside of town.

As forecast, the next day dawned bitterly cold and while Phil braved the cold on the river, Christine gamely volunteered to cycle back to the town to return the DVD we'd rented. Cold was an understatement, even with two sweaters, coat, woolley hat and gloves her extremities were frozen and the rest of the day was spent coughing as her lungs tried to recover from the exertion in the icy cold!

Next day it warmed up a little and we decided to explore the opposite side of the river, accessed by the disused rail road tracks. We headed over there on our bikes and learned that cycling up rail road tracks is a pretty uncomfortable and perilous means of transport!

Finally the huge rainbow at “Jesus Saves” Rock was landed!

Ow. Ow, Ow, Ow!

The Arkansas River again proved to be a favourite spot and we decided to drive up to the town of Buena Vista further upstream, to explore some new fishing access spots. Not only did the area above Buena Vista turn out to be stunning, with gorgeous scenery and an intriguing set of tunnels through the rock, there was also free camping! The only problem was, that after Harvey-the-RV had precariously slithered his way down the rough and slippery road into the camp ground, we had to carry out some major repairs to the potholes, to make sure we'd be able to get out again!

Once the roadworks were attended too, we took a wonderful bike ride up the dirt road alongside the beautiful river valley. Later Phil tried a spot of fishing close the the camp site and ended up taking an unscheduled dip when an errant rock tipped under his feet, dumping him in the water.

On the way to the free camp ground, Harvey squeezes through the tunnels!

Arkansas River

Biking along the Arkansas River

After Harvey successfully scrambled back out of the free camp ground, albeit with one of his wheels completely in the air, we explored further upstream but decided that the better fishing spot was just up from the camp ground, where Phil had spotted some large trout lurking on our bike ride. We headed back and fished until a big one was landed. Instead of chancing our way back into the nearby free camp ground, we returned instead to Salida and spent the afternoon on the Arkansas there.

Next day Harvey was valiantly climbing Monarch Pass again so that Phil could fish on the Gunnison River. As a result of the bizarre budget shut down of the Federal Government, several of the spots we wanted to visit were closed, as was the camp ground, so after a couple of good hours of fishing on the Gunnison we headed back to Montrose and our friendly Walmart camp ground! One place you can guarantee is never shut down!

Blue Mesa Reservoir

In Montrose we fished behind Target and then spent another couple of lovely days at the Ridgway State Park. The next stretch of cold, wet weather was spent mooching around the town of Montrose, exploring some of the galleries and stores but once the weather broke we spent our last night in Colorado camped at the lovely State Park.

View from our camp site at Ridgway S.P.

Yesterday this was a tree, pesky beaver

Ridgway S.P. Resident

Cool wood carving at Montrose

It was time to head out of Colorado, more snow was forecast Sunday night and we had three serious mountain passes to cross into New Mexico, Red Mountain Pass (11,075 feet), Molas Pass (10899 feet) and Coal Bank Pass (10,640 feet). The drive was beautiful, a little tortuous, winding and steep, but beautiful. We would have liked a little time to explore the intriguing looking, remote town of Ouray but that would have to wait for another visit when the threat of snow wasn't hanging over us!

Ouray, Colorado

Brrrr. Let's get out of here!

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