My Itchy Travel Feet | The Baby Boomer's Guide To Travel

Saturday’s scene: San Juan sunshine

2013/03/09by Donna Hull

California Gulch

Wildflowers bloom in California Gulch

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.

Have you explored the 4-wheel-drive trails in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains? Post a comment to share your experience. This is one of our favorite boomer adventures.


A boomer travel and lifestyle authority who is exploring the world one activity at a time. Besides writing and publishing My Itchy Travel Feet, she also writes about boomer travel for My Well-Being Powered by Humana, Make It Missoula and is the author of New Mexico Backroads Weekend Adventure.

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