- Apr 23, 2015 at 1:26 pm #1328252
ETA: What are the current snow conditions for the Elk Park/Needleton loop? If I'm reading the data correctly (which is very questionable) it appears there isn't much there. I don't want my son to have to posthole a lot.
Trying to figure out which would be best for my young son and I. I'm intending for us to get off at Elk Park, head toward CDT and loop around to Chicago Basin and then down to Needleton.
Time wise Durango makes more sense as you get an earlier start and later pickup. Cost wise Silverton does though that's not too big an issue for us this year. We normally sleep in our car while traveling so it seems like Silverton would win on that one.
So I'm wondering about other things that may tip the scales. I imagine both have decent restaurants/brew pubs we can get a celebratory meal (and me a nice IPA).
We'd be coming from Philmont after dropping off his older brother (and possibly heading back to it) so Durango is more convenient. Though if we have time once we're done we may head northeast to climb Mt Elbert (we'll have already done Wheeler Peak – highest in NM). Or is there something else we should do close to one of these towns if we have a day or two to blow?Apr 23, 2015 at 2:16 pm #2194115
Michael LBPL Member
Durango is much bigger with many more options. The train ride into and out of Silverton is more scenic though. For the pickup, going to Silverton will of course be earlier in the day….so that might factor into when you need to be done.
A number of people ride up from Durango to Silverton and then take a bus back. So there are more openings for hikers on the ride back into Durango. I don't know how often the train is completely booked, but my understanding is that you can only hitch a ride OUT if there is an open seat or you paid in advance (limits flexibility).
I'd go Silverton. You can call and ask how often they sell out all seats during the time you are considering going to know the risk on having to wait for an open seat on a later train.Apr 23, 2015 at 2:18 pm #2194119
Michael LBPL Member
Well, I repeated some things you already know. You can head north from Silverton and hit the hot springs pool in Ouray. Depending on your timeline there are plenty of dayhikes in the area. If you vehicle can go off road it's a great place to hit jeep trails.Apr 23, 2015 at 2:55 pm #2194127
Is the Ouray springs clothing optional?
Most likely will be in my Civic so no "fun" driving for us.Apr 23, 2015 at 3:04 pm #2194128
Peter BakwinBPL Member
The Ouray pool is definitely not clothing optional – it is a family oriented municipal pool. Silverton is nicer than Durango, but has no good dining – just burgers &c. There's a pretty ok Mexican place in Ouray. Elbert is a long drive and not very interesting summit (unless you are collecting state highpoints) & there are many nice peaks to climb in the San Juans.Apr 23, 2015 at 5:34 pm #2194162
Got it. I was thinking wilderness hot spring, not a pool in a city. I've been to Conundrum before and wouldn't take my 8 yo there.
Hoping he's up to try Windom Peak.
Given our past trips I suspect he'll be anxious to get back home by the time we're done with the loop anyway, but you never know. Maybe we'll just extend the trip slightly around West and Middle Ute Lakes.Apr 24, 2015 at 12:17 pm #2194358
Dean F.BPL Member
@acrosomeLocale: Back in the Front Range
IIRC parking is free in Silverton, not so at the train station in Durango.Apr 24, 2015 at 1:32 pm #2194382
Correct. You're also not allowed to "camp" in the city lots in Durango, which I assume means no sleeping in your car. I could do that at Walmart though.
What are the snow levels looking like this year? I didn't seem I was reading the NOAA chart correctly for the Wind Rivers last year (snow depth from normal) since it said it was below normal for my area while locals were saying above normal. Thus, I delayed our trip a week. Right now the Weminuche looks like the Winds did (below normal) from this map. Does anyone know if this reflects reality? We'll be there around July 1.Apr 24, 2015 at 3:58 pm #2194426
rOg wBPL Member
deletedApr 24, 2015 at 4:38 pm #2194440
Thanks for the tips.
Windom will still be a challenge for him at only 52". While he likes climbing on rocks I can see where all those larger ones could tire him out.Apr 29, 2015 at 2:27 pm #2195623
Scott KoonsBPL Member
My woman and I did this trip last year and started/ended in Durango. Really enjoyed it. The big bonus though was how close Mesa Verde NP was to Durango. It was a last minute side trip that we still talk about today.Apr 30, 2015 at 3:36 pm #2195883
@poedogLocale: Big Sur
Orvis Hot Springs is just north of Ouray in Ridgeway, has much better layout, and is clothing optional.
You could just park at Molas Pass and hike down to Elk Creek and up to the divide, leaving you with numerous options. No train shuttle needed. You would have to loop it or hitch though. You should try and make it out to the Rio Grand Pyramid, and of course a night or two around the Highland Mary Lakes.
I second the Junction Creek recommendation for camping, although I slept in my truck all the time in town, and I lived there. Have fun!May 1, 2015 at 8:57 am #2196060
I know this area will be a relative zoo on Fri/Sat nights. Will delaying our arrival into it until Sun or even Mon really make much difference at this time of year???
Currently my proposed schedule has us on the other side of the pass at Columbine Lake Sat. Then into the basin on Sun. If he doesn't want to attempt Windom then we'll just head on out. If he does, we'll try it on Monday.May 1, 2015 at 1:24 pm #2196125
@poedogLocale: Big Sur
I've seen Chi Basin a (relative) zoo through September and can't imagine what it would be like anytime around July 4th. It may be less crowded if you wait until Sun or Mon, although solitude will be a tough order regardless. But really, you're out there and that's what's important.May 1, 2015 at 1:38 pm #2196131
I'm more concerned with finding a spot without losing significant elevation than solitude in that area. My son's a trooper but his little legs can't go fast so I want to be close for our attempt since I know it will take us a while anyway.May 5, 2015 at 9:12 am #2196891
There is a small "campsite" right across from Durango Resort. There is a trailhead that will take you Needleton, my brother and I dont move particularly fast so this route added a day to get to Chicago basin. It was fairly secluded that first day, although a little warm.
The train ride is pretty cool but not cheap and this route avoids the train ride.Jun 20, 2015 at 12:38 pm #2208737
What are the current snow conditions for the Elk Park/Needleton loop? If I'm reading the data correctly (which is very questionable) it appears there isn't much there east of the Animas River. I don't want my son to have to posthole a lot.
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