JULY 2000

We visited the San Juan Mountains over the long 4th of July weekend.  Our friends Sandy and Randy joined us for the trip.

 Yankee Boy Basin.

We spent a day in the Ouray area.  We wanted to show Sandy and Randy one of our favorite places in Colorado.  It is Yankee Boy Basin and it is known for having argueably the best wildflowers in America.  We were there a bit early in the summer to see the prime wildflower displays but they were excellent none the less. 

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Yankee Boy Basin

Chicago Basin

We then drove over the outstanding San Juan Skyway to Durango. We stayed overnight there and then went to the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad depot at 7AM to catch the first train of the day.  This train follows the Animas river thru the heart of the San Juans for 50 miles to Silverton.  We road the train about 2/3 of the way to Silverton and got off at a small settlement called Needleton.  The only way to Needleton is via train or a 13 mile hike.  The highlite of the ride was a place called the "Highline".  The train travels several hundred feet above the roaring rapids of the Animas River.  There are places were you are looking staight down to the river from the wobbling train car! 

Train on Highline


From Needleton we hiked 7 miles up to Chicago Basin where there is a spectacular valley ringed by high peaks.  Three 14,000 foot peaks form the massive east and north walls of the basin.  We camped in the middle of the basin and had great views of the surrounding peaks.  There is excellent hiking in this basin and we really enjoyed a day hike upto 13,000 foot Columbine Pass.  The wildflowers were peaking in this entire valley as well as the abundant strawberries which we gorged on!

  Top of Columbine Pass Flower field

Randy looking out over Needle Creek Hiking down from Columbine Pass

We saw some animals up there.  There were many Marmots visiting our campsite!

Marmot Goat Family

After 2 nights in the backcountry we hiked back to Needleton where we caught the 4:30 train back to civilization.

 Hiking out Animas at Needleton

Needleton Bridge Train picks us up

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