From the San Luis Valley, we drove to the town of Del Norte and the Rio Grande River. There's a great museum/ vistor center here. A half hour wasn't time to do it justice and we will be back. Del Norte seems to be where the valley starts changing to a mountain feel. No more crop circles here.
We followed the Rio Grande upstream through South Fork and stopped at Creede. Beautiful country but really getting built up. It was raining in Creede. We did a mine tour at the mouth of the canyon. The tour was developed around the change in mining technology. Well worth it. Lot's of mines to explore North of town but with the rain, we decided to continue upstream and find a camp.
You know you're in the Colorado Southwest when you see sheep. These guys were being herded alongside the road.
We found a nice camp at Bristol View campground. Excellent view and only one other camp site occupied. (Further down the road there were many options for primitive sites but we didn't see that until the next day.) We tried some fishing before dinner. It looked promising but nada.
We stopped at the impressive N. Fork of Clear Creek Falls the next day as a drizzle had already set in.
The rain increased as we headed higher. It was pouring as we crossed Slumgullion Pass (11,361'). The truck outside temp gauge displayed 39F at the pass.
We pulled into a crazy Lake City. This is one of the staging points for the scenic Alpine Loop. Read more about the alpine loop here, here & here. The 4x4/ ATV crowd were everywhere in their tricked out rigs. We wanted out of there and fast. The weather had moderated ... we hoped anyway as we wanted to do the North half of the loop - Engineer Pass. More in part 2!