San Juan Mountains to Montezuma Canyon


Jan 17, 2012
Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Original Trip Report on ADVENTR.CO

After another cold night in the San Juan Mountains camped below Whipple Mountain and high above the San Miguel River I was up before the sun and had my camp loaded in the Jeep while it was still dark. When darkness transitioned to light I had a great view of the San Miguel Mountains.

A blanket of color below Dolores Peak in the soft dawn light before sunrise.

Dolores Peak Sunrise by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A well-defined Earth Shadow creeps down the sky above Little Cone.

Earth Shadow by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

The first light of the day strikes the unmistakable Lizard Head Peak.

Lizard Head Sunrise by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Early morning light on the iconic Wilson Peak.

Wilson Peak Sunrise by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

When the sun was up and I was done taking photos I got back in my Jeep and started my journey from the mountains to the desert of southern Utah. I would make a few stops along the way...

An old fence among a grove of colorful aspen trees.

Forest by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A view through the forest.

Trees by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Aspen by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Amazing fall colors beyond an old rustic cabin I passed on Last Dollar Road.

Rustic by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Soon I dropped back down along the San Miguel River and followed it up over Lizard Head Pass where I started following the Dolores River further south and west. Shortly before reaching the small town of Rico, I spotted a nice grove of golden aspen trees and hiked among them for a while.

The sun peeks through the trees.

Tall by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Bright by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Shadows by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Up by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

When I reached Rico, I noticed a patch of yellow leaves still surrounded by plenty of green behind the historic Atlantic Cable Head-frame.

Rico by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

I found a few other nice pockets of fall color beyond Rico.

Color Stripe by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

I also stopped at this small pond that reflected the dead trees bathed in sunlight on the other side nicely.

Reflecting Pond by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Before reaching Dolores I spotted this hillside exploding with color.

Color Explosion by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

When I reached Dolores I stopped following the Dolores River and made my way south to Cortez where I grabbed some lunch and arranged to meet Marty, who had spent the weekend in the San Rafael Swell, at the Hatch Trading Post in a few hours. From Cortez I followed McElmo Canyon into Utah.

Just before crossing the state line into Utah, I made one last stop near the Ismay Trading Post to visit a nice petroglyph panel.

Rock Shelter Panel by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Music Panel by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

We couldn't have timed our meeting any better since we both pulled up to the Hatch Trading Post at the exact same time. After catching up for a short time we drove into Montezuma Canyon in search of The Ancients.

We stopped at a few rock art panels that Marty had not seen before and I certainly didn't mind photographing them again.

Four Cranes by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Elk by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Buffalo Panel by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Then we hiked to a large panel of pictographs that I've been searching for for quite a while. There are a lot of faint handprints, anthropomorphs and other designs found here.

Flute Player by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Anthropomorphs & Designs by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

We also stopped to visit a Great House that I had not been to before. There wasn't much to see aside from the foundation, but there were potsherds everywhere.

Fine Stripes by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

I've wanted to get back to the Honeycomb Granary for some time and made sure to get there on this trip.

Honeycomb Granary by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Honeycomb Detail by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Another new petroglyph panel that I had not seen before.

Spider Panel by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

This small granary was nearby.

Little Granary by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

We made one last stop at the Three Kiva Pueblo before finding a place to camp for the night. It would be nice to finally be camping in a little warmer weather than I had the previous two nights!

Three Kiva Pueblo by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

>> Telluride to Montezuma Canyon Photo Gallery

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Jan 19, 2012
WOW!!! Awesome photos!


Aug 9, 2007
Wowowowowowowow!!! Mind blowing set of photos! I can't even begin to pick a favorite. And just when those yellow aspens and sunbursts were burning a hole through my eyes, the ruins. Incredible.
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