Day Seven - Mexican Hat UT to Ouray CO
Miles: 275
Elapsed Time: 11:21

Experience told us we needed to get to the gas station across the street the night before if we wanted to have anything to eat in the morning. So we had granola bars and that type of thing for breakfast. We started going north on US163 stopping for some pictures of the Mexican Hat rock formation. We also stopped at Goosenecks State Park for a great view of the San Juan River more than 1,000 feet below our vantage point. The scenery here is really quite good but is likely, in most cases, a throw in as a place to stop. We had talked up the whole Moki Dugway experience and we were about to attack it from the south.

Steve and I came down from the North in 2009 so this was going to be a treat. Moki Dugway is a gravel road with switchbacks descending 1,200 feet in just 3 miles from the top of Cedar Mesa down to the valley floor where the Valley of the Gods resides. We stopped at a few different spots on the way up as we were trying to find the perfect picture. We were very much leaving this to Sebastian as he seemed to be the expert and certainly had the best equipment. So, after several picture sessions and plenty of looking around and soaking things in we decided to move on. It should be noted that this seemed to be the area where Jim really conquered his fear of heights. He said he still felt uneasy but he was walking near the edge of cliffs and doing things I didn’t think possible a few days ago. Riding north on U261 is wide open riding on top of the Cedar Mesa and the speed limit is mostly however fast you wish to ride, and we made some good time. We tuned east on U95 and stopped as we breached the top of Comb Ridge. We ran up US191 through Blanding and Monticello. We turned east on US491 and moved toward Dolores where we had planned to stop at
Dolores River Brewery for lunch. I thought I had done my homework on all of the operating hours but the brewery didn’t open until 4:00, scheisse! So, we rode a little further north thinking about what to do we pulled into Riverfront Bar and Grill not 100 feet from where we stopped the day before to remove our rain suits. I think everyone thought I had a second option up my sleeve but I didn’t and on top of everything else it turned out to be pretty good. We ate outside on the back deck along the river and only had to move out of the rain once. After lunch we backtracked a little to get us to C184 and ultimately US160 taking us into Durango. We passed a couple of gas stations that looked congested and before we knew it we were headed back up the mountain and we felt we needed gas, and soon. Just when we thought we might have to take action we spotted a gas station and we were set. We put the rain suits on and headed toward Silverton. I knew we had some really good roads coming up and was hopeful the rains would hold off or run their course. Up US550 we went into the heart of the San Juan Mountains climbing more than 4,000 feet to Silverton. This road is known as the Million Dollar Highway, and I thought it would be one of the highlights of the trip, but I wasn’t counting on rain. We stopped at an overlook of SIlverton to take some pics and continued into town. It was still raining although not a downpour as we entered town and we headed for the Golden Block Brewery. We had been to this place back in June when it was only in its second week. It was late afternoon when we arrived so we didn’t eat, we just had a pint as waited out the rain. It finally looked like it was clearing up so we headed to our destination in Ouray. We thought we had really caught a break with the weather and we were really hitting it hard until we hit road construction. Delay after delay and once we did get through a road block there were ten plus cars we would need to get around and then only to find another delay. So, we rode with traffic and saw the sights. I have written about the Million Dollar Highway too many times to think of something clever to say but I’ll just say it remains one of my favorite roads anywhere. We stopped a couple of times as we neared Ouray and by the time we reached our motel we were thirsty and hungry. It didn’t take long for us to collect ourselves and head to Ouray Brewery for good dinner and excellent beer. That night as we were having the “last one” Steve and I decided to take a walk and spotted a bear in the parking lot and tried to take some pictures. As we were running after the bear to get a better picture we realized we were chasing a bear, and thought better of the idea. That was it for the night.