Day 3: Durango & the San Juan Skyway

Day 3: After our night of poor camping sleep and the mediocre sunrise attempts in Great Sand Dunes, we packed up our camping gear (poorly), stuffed it into the car (barely) and headed onwards to Durango.

Our route was a little over 3 hours, and we were hoping to drive straight there, get lunch, then find a hotel and take an epic nap.

The drive was fairly uneventful. Google maps seemed to think we couldn’t go the way we were driving, so we were a bit concerned about random road closures (for wildfires) but everything turned out okay.

As we got closer to Durango, Travis told me to Yelp some lunch options, preferably for American food. I did my search on Durango, and as I was pursuing the selection, I came across a listing for “Fiesta Mexicana Restaurant # 4.” Hmmm… could this be the same Fiesta Mexicana that we visited (and really enjoyed) on our 2009 road trip while we were in Page, AZ.

I did a little bit of web research and found out it was indeed a Durango location of the restaurant. We decided to eat there and see if it really was as awesome as we thought it was on our road trip, or if we were misremembering. For the record, we listed Fiesta Mexicana as our favorite Mexican stop on our 2-month “best of” list. I’m pretty sure it maintained this distinction throughout our road trip (and we eat a lot of Mexican food).

So we finally arrived in Durango around 1:30pm, got to the restaurant. The salsa was everything we hoped it could be and more. The rest of the food was also tasty. We’d been planning to revisit this restaurant when we hit Page on this trip (before we found the Durango location) We were also amused to find they had locations at several other places on our route, including Moab, UT. It’s possible we may go there again.

Anyway, after our extremely satisfying Mexican meal (keep in mind we had cold sandwiches and chips for 2 meals the day before) we booked the last available room at the Iron Horse Inn in Durango, a nice little motel along the Durango-Silverton railroad tracks. Travis opted to take a nap, while I messed around with photos and did some work on the agonizingly slow internet (this is a theme of this trip).

Around 5pm I woke the reluctant Travis and got him back into the car for some wanderings of the San Juan Skyway. I knew the sun would dip below the mountains much sooner than sunset, so I wanted to get some touring in before we lost daylight.

We chose to drive north from Durango towards Silverton. The poor car choked up and down the 11,000ft passes to the point we opted not to drive further because the combination of low fuel and high altitude did not seem to agree with the car.

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Lime Creek Overlook

Anyway, we found some decent spots along the way.

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View of unnamed and Turk’s Head

The parking/picnic area at Andrew’s Lake had a really nice view of all the surrounding mountain ranges. This one above is “unnamed” and Turk’s Head. I thought it was amusing that one of the peaks had no name.

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Andrew’s Lake View

Then we walked down a trail to Andrew’s Lake, where there were a bunch of people fishing and hanging out.

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Small Bridge on Andrew’s Lake

Then we headed up to the Molas Pass. You can hike all the way from Durango to Denver starting in the Molas Pass. We figured we didn’t have time for that 🙂

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Molas Pass – Hike from Durango to Denver!

After the Molas Pass we headed back to Andrew’s Lake to investigate sunset possibilities, but ultimately decided it was too cloudy. We opted to head back to Durango and picked out a nice microbrewery (Durango Brewing Company) for dinner and brews. Travis had some of their Hophugger IPA, while I sampled the Wheat Beer.

Then we went back to the hotel, watched some tv and then “slept in” until 8.

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