Our first stop was by far the most out-of-this world. Heading into the massive, towering San Juan mountains for the first time blew my expectations out of the water. The transition in the landscape from the desert plateau of Montrose into the tight canyon where Ouray is nestled, then up the Million Dollar Highway over Red Mountain Pass. That alone makes the trip worth it! A highway that cuts up a narrow canyon riddled with avalanche paths, it’s amazing this highway is ever open during the winter.
After, what felt like, hours of searching up and down the dirt road, for a spot to camp, we decided to take a chance on a spot down by the stream. Just a few hundred feet down from the road, we hiked all our stuff from the truck to an incredible campsite along the South Fork of Mineral Creek. From camp, it was just a short, 5 mile drive, we headed into the “bustling” downtown of Silverton.
The town of Silverton, founded in 1885 as a silver mining town, sits at a measly elevation of 9,318ft, has only one paved street and a population of 663 people. Needless to say, this place is out there. But the draw to this place is not it’s small town charm, but the mountains that tower 360 degrees around it. Every single direction, there is a canyon or ridge that could lead to a lifetime of exploration. Unfortunately, we only had a couple of days, so we had to make sure we made them count!
The highlight of our stay in Silverton was the hike up to Ice Lake. An 8 mile hike that takes you up from the valley floor, past a roaring water fall, through a high alpine meadow, and eventually up to one of the most incredible lakes I’ve ever seen. Not to mention, this hike took Courtney above 12,000 feet for her very first time! The hike itself was wonderful, with a constantly changing scenery that was more than worth the 2,700 feet of climbing. But once we saw the lake, and the surrounding amphitheater that showcased the glacial blue waters of Ice Lake, it was all worth it.
After a hike like that, there was only one thing to do, head back into town for some delicious BBQ and beers. And even though there was only one main, paved street in Silverton, there was an indescribable charm to it. It made us want to move to a place so remote, the nearest Walmart is a 1.5hr drive away. This was truly a mountain town in its own category. A place where everyday could quite literally be a new adventure.
My name is Zachary Kenney and I’m an adventure filmmaker & photographer. My passion is to tell stories that will hopefully motivate you to go live a more adventurous life. Whether that is to experience the view from the summit of a mountain, or wandering through a new town on a road trip. Currently based out of Park City, UT.