Trip Report Colorado; Black Bear & Imogene Pass

Greg

Starting Over
Admin
We took the 2 hr drive down to the San Juan mountains yesterday, seeking to escape the heat at home.... and boy did we! 🌧

We drove thru Ouray and up Red Mountain Pass towards the Black Bear Pass trailhead. Right before the turnoff, I spotted a small herd of Bull Elk on the move... there were 3 big boys and a handful of deer just above them! We pulled off at the start of the trail, aired down and applied a sticker to the sign. ;)

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The temperature at the trailhead was nice & crisp, in the 50's and there was a lot of standing water and everything was SO GREEN! The trail climbs fast & steep, it's not too challenging but the views on the way up are stunning! Soon we were at the summit, took a pic at the sign and began our decent down the other side. As we worked our way down towards the sketchy, famous Stairs of Black Bear we enjoyed the scenery and all the waterfalls.

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The trail has eroded in a few places that were slightly sketchy before and now are VERY sketchy. There are a few off camber drops that have rolled vehicles, you really need to be cautious and pick your line carefully. On top of that, with all the recent moisture the granite rocks were very slippery... as we dropped off, gravity took over and took the Jeep where it wanted! :eek: The rest of the trip down the Stairs was uneventful, but just as we came down them it started to rain... and the tight switchbacks lay ahead!


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I ended up taking the switch backs in 2WD, so I could turn the long Gladiator better... had to make a couple 5 point turns! :eek: The view of the Telluride Bridal Veil Powerhouse was impressive with the rain falling! We made the rest of the trip down into town without issue and found a place for good food and some well earned beer!

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Greg

Starting Over
Admin
After lunch, we headed out of town towards Imogene Pass... there wasn't much traffic, which I love! It was still raining off & on which probably helped. On the way up, you have an amazing view of the switchbacks coming off Black Bear and the waterfalls. We drove thru the mining area with the dilapidated buildings and watched all the water rushing off the mountain. It's such a iconic, beautiful place!

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As we crested the summit at 13,114 feet high we drove into the clouds.... it was 45*'s at the top!! Temps back home are double that! The rain continued and we noticed several places where the mountain was coming down... little dirt and rock slides. Added another RME sticker to the back of the sign. ;) The wild flowers were abundant on the Ouray side of Imogene with plenty of amazing Columbine in bloom.

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Some end of day observations.... the Gladiator on 39's rolls so smoothly over the rocks. Yeah, they're probably overkill but compared to 35's on the JKU and the previous 37's on the JT, the 39's roll easier on the rocky trails. Of course, the Teraflex RT3 suspension and Falcon 3.3 shocks are a big help too. Overall, I'm very happy with how the JT works for my needs these days!

Also... I truly LOVE the San Juans! The beauty and scenery is unparalleled, if you haven't been then by all means, plan a trip. I'd be more than happy to plan a 3-4 day RME weekend down here!
 

Tonkaman

Well-Known Member
Location
West Jordan
I’ve been putting off a trip to the San Juan’s for far too long. That area looks like absolute heaven on earth.

If it got sketchy in your JT then I can’t imagine what it would feel like in my rig. Do you think the wheelbase of my Powerwagon would make those turns impossible??
 

Greg

Starting Over
Admin
I’ve been putting off a trip to the San Juan’s for far too long. That area looks like absolute heaven on earth.

If it got sketchy in your JT then I can’t imagine what it would feel like in my rig. Do you think the wheelbase of my Powerwagon would make those turns impossible??

Do it, seriously... its so beautiful, you guys would love it.

I don't know that I'd recommend it in the Power Wagon down Black Bear, my Gladiator is fairly narrow and the switchbacks were pretty tight for me. I'd bet people have driven over BB with long trucks, but there are several very tight switchbacks that you'd have to be very careful and probably need a spotter to make it safely around.

Still, if you decide not to run BB there are so many other trail options to choose from that are full size friendly.
 
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