Colorado San Juan Skyway Green

Molls Pass, San Juan County, Colorado.

Molas Pass, San Juan County, Colorado.

The San Juan Skyway in southwest Colorado is that portion of US Highway 550 that goes up over the San Juan Mountain Range between Durango, Silverton, Ouray, and Montrose.

Summer comes late to the Colorado high country. And this has been a very wet spring. So on this day, with the rivers and creeks running bank full, there were still clouds clearing off from the last round of storms. Thus the light wasn’t the greatest at first.

My first stop was Molas Pass on the San Juan National Forest, at 10,899 feet (and not a foot more, officially; why not 10,900?). The clouds had cleared enough for some sunshine on the mountain peaks.

Overlooking Silverton, Colorado.

Overlooking Silverton, Colorado.

From there it was down to some steep curvy road grades overlooking Silverton. The Animas River was running high and muddy but not flooding. The aspen forests and the high meadows were bright with new springtime growth.

Then it was over Red Mountain Pass, and down to Ouray.

A very round switchback on Red Mountain Pass.

A very round switchback on Red Mountain Pass.

North of Ouray came some of my favorite shots of the drive. The high mountain light was still mostly overcast, but seemed to have a pearly quality to it. I was particularly drawn to the aspen forests on the steep mountain sides, flush with new spring green. The creeks running down were silvery with the brightening light from above.

Springtime aspen greenery and silvery mountain brook.

Springtime aspen greenery and silvery mountain brook.

The dark green spruce and fir trees made a nice counterpoint to the aspen stands.

Mountain peak and aspen slopes.

Mountain peak and aspen slopes.

Photo locations: San Juan and Ouray Counties, Colorado.

© 2015 Stephen J. Krieg

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