In the morning after a delicious breakfast at Jean Pierre’s French bakery in Durango, we head north through the San Juan Mountains, along what is called the Million Dollar Highway. As we drove through the mountains, gaining elevation, the air became clearer, the vegetation lush and green and the peaks higher. The highest pass, Red Mountain Pass, on the highway was at 11,018 ft (3,358 m). The drive was spectacular, and I can imagine that when the leaves turn colors, the first snow has dusted the peaks and the sky is bright blue, it must be breathtaking.
The highway leads through mining country and the soil colors and scattered buildings at the side of the road are a vivid reminder of the bustling mining times in days gone by.
It’s no secret that I’m always on the lookout for a ghost town and the first we came across was Red Mountain Town, right across from the Idarado Mine. This mine produced primarily lead, silver and zinc along with lesser amounts of gold and copper. The mining area is closed and being remediated. From the vista point it is possible to see old mining structures and it if had been possible, I would have loved to nose around.