Discovering a field of yellow wildflowers in California Gulch is one of the treats on a mid-summer 4-wheel-drive-adventure in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. But, California Gulch offers much more than pretty scenery. The remnants of gold and silver mining history are strewn about adding a historical flavor to the journey. Weeds grow through a rusted-out truck body, turning discarded trash into a creative photo opportunity. Farther down the trail, the rickety silhouettes of deteriorating mine structures cast shadows onto rocky mountainsides.
Numerous jeep trails in the San Juan Mountains offer plenty of opportunities to explore the Colorado back country. On this trip, our journey began at Ironton Park, located off the San Juan Skyway (U.S. 550) between Ouray and Silverton. We followed a trail that climbed Corkscrew, Hurricane and California passes before descending into California Gulch. From here, it was a short drive to the ghost town of Animas Forks, where we stopped to explore, before driving to Silverton, then circling back to Ouray on the San Juan Skyway (also known as the Million Dollar Highway).
We recommend Southern Colorado 4-Wheeling, The San Juans for researching your driving itinerary.