Day Four - Lake City and back - 364 miles

It was nice taking off in the morning not having to pack for the day since we were staying at the spot tonight.  We headed south on C149.  The road passes over the Slumgullion Pass where the Slumgullion Earthflow can be spotted.  We also passed high above Lake San Cristobal (KMZ).  The lake was smaller than I had expected.  The lake was formed by the Earthflow damming up the Gunnison river thousands of years ago.  We also passed the Alfred Packer site where Mr. Packer ate his comrades on a packing expedition in the 1800s.  Next we traveled over Spring Creek Pass and shortly after the summit we came upon the North Clear Creek Falls (KMZ).  The Falls are just off the road and close to a parking lot (our kind of sightseeing).  The Falls have a spectacular 100 foot fall into a box canyon and are well worth a visit. 

Continuing on we were once again in wide sweeping turns and beautiful scenery.  As we continued down the road we began running alongside the Rio Grande.  At a scenic overlook at the crest of
Stony Pass the view west looks up the glaciated valley of South Clear Creek, Hermit, and Brown Lakes glimmer on the valley floor, the 13,821 foot Rio Grande Pyramid dominates the Continental Divide and there are fourteeners in every direction.  The highway turns Northeast as it follows the Rio Grande up to the old mining town of Creede (KMZ).  Today we just ride through Creede only stopping for gas.  As we continue south now on C149 the valley is wide and grassy but begins to narrow as we approach Wagon Wheel Gap (KMZ).  We stop at a state campground (KMZ) along the Rio Grande for a rest.  This area is a popular location for river rafters.  The road goes through the bottom of a deep, broad canyon in the Collier State Wildlife Area before passing the entrance to the Rio Grande National Forest.  Shortly after we are in the town of South Fork.  We turned right and headed east on US160 towards Del Norte.  We traveled through the towns of Monte Vista and Alamosa.  The road was very straight and slightly congested.  The San Juans were behind us and the Sangre De Cristo Mountains were in front of us.  Not far past Alamosa we turned on C150 and skirted the west side of the Sangre De Cristo Mountains towards the Great Sand Dunes National Monument (KMZ).  The Great Sand Dunes were about 25 miles up the road.  The Dunes are quite amazing; the winds from the west carry sand and are deposited at the base of the mountains. 

After viewing the Dunes for a relatively short time we headed back out on C150.  When we got to 6N LN. we turned right and headed due west
(KMZ).  This road was as straight as the eye could see and reminded me of a scene out of High Plains Drifter.  We rode at speeds around 100mph with no one in sight.  North on C17 and back west on C112 did little to change the scenery or our speeds.  Just past Center we altered our route a little and headed north on US285.  In the town of Saguache we went northwest on C114.  This road was reminiscent of C9, rolling hills as we paralleled  several creeks through the Gunnison National Forest.  We crossed the Continental Divide again as we crossed North Pass.  On the north side of the pass we traversed down into Cochetopa Canyon (KMZ) alongside the creek of the same name.  C114 brought us back to US50 just east of Gunnison.  There we traveled back into Lake City the same way did the day before.  A repeat performance of food at the tavern, darts, and pool.