Colorado Roadtrip : Pagosa to Ouray

You can find more of our Colorado adventures here, and if you like travel posts, we have a lot! We took this road trip in our *new* van (can’t wait to tell you more about it); this post gives you a little overview of what we pack in the van. And here are some of our basic tips for camping with kids.

Yesterday I shared a glimpse of our 36 hours in Great Sand Dunes, today I’m sharing from the rest of our trip as we visited Pagosa, Ouray, and the scenic highways in between!

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First up, the most breathtaking pit-stop that we made for a certain 4 y.o. that had to go. Look at those cliffs! This is somewhere east of Pagosa along US route 160. I stayed neared the van where Luc was sleeping while Alex and Calder took a short walk to stretch their legs. Can you see them in the first pic? They’re just little dots holding hands and being careful not to lose each other down the cliff.



We had reservations Thursday evening at The Springs Resort; it’s the hotel and spa that’s home to the iconic hot springs pools that you see in guide books. The resort was beautiful, and gave you 24 hr access to the pools. Unfortunately, we didn’t take advantage of any late-night dips under the stars (#kids), but we have grand plans to go back and live it up when the boys are older and off on their own adventures.

That said, even for this quick trip it was nice to stay right at the resort for a number of reasons. I didn’t realize until we arrived, but having a real bed and shower halfway through the trip was such a luxury for cleaning off the Sand Dunes dust and getting a good rest. Another perk that we took full advantage of was that our room was a quick 5 minute walk from the pools, making it easy to run back and forth if we forgot something.


The convenience also made it easy to take advantage of activities we normally would do if we had to drive. For example, on Thursday evenings, they do a “dive in” movie, but it doesn’t start until dusk. Normally, we would have bedtime well-underway by then, especially when traveling. But instead, we made this a *special* night and took the boys back to the pools. The night we were there it was Charlotte’s Web, which was so perfect, because C and I were just talking about reading that book to the boys (in fact, we were able to pick up a copy in Ouray!), so of course we were excited to take the boys down for a late-night dip. We assumed that little Luc would fall asleep on my lap in a lounge chair, but to our surprise, the excitement was too much, and instead he just cuddled in and watched the show.

There’s a short bridge across the San Juan River separating the resort from the main street of town. We loved being able to walk across the bridge for dinner Thursday evening and again on Friday morning to pick up breakfast.

For dinner we went to Riff Raff Brewing and loved it! We stopped in for an early dinner and easily snagged a table outside. Our waitress was wonderful with the boys; always such a perk, especially now that they like to place their own orders. I had the Skallywag English Pale, and then we shared the beer-brined eggs, wings, a burger, fish and chips… I’m probably forgetting something. It was all amazing, and again, it was such a nice treat in the middle of days of campfire food.

Before hitting the road on Friday morning, we popped into River Pointe Coffee House for breakfast. The coffee was perfect, and everyone popped into the van with full & happy bellies! Then it was off to the Million Dollar Highway!
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The drive from Pagosa to Ourway was amazing (to say the least)! If you take this route, you’ll drive through Durango and Silverton (pictured above). We didn’t stop in either place, but there’s much anticipation about the day we take a trip on the Silverton Narrow Gauge Train!

{dork alert} Our timing was just right that we happened to pass the train as we were driving out of Durango. At first we mistook the black smoke for a forest fire, but quickly realized that it was train, and got so excited that we scared the boys. #wimps



We made it to Ouray by lunchtime on Friday!

Before leaving on this trip, we reserved a campsite in Ridgeway State Park (about 15 miles or so from Ouray) for Friday and Saturday nights. I made these reservations because I was so worried about us being able to find walk-in sites on the weekend. That said, both C and I always have a hope that we’re going to come upon an awesome unreserved campsite.

By the time we reached Ouray, I assumed finding anything near town was hopeless, but C, ever the optimist, kept his hopes up. He dropped my hangry bum off in town and set out with Alex to visit the nearby campgrounds. As luck would have it, he was able to secure us a spot in the Thistledown Campgroundroadtrip26 roadtrip28 roadtrip29

After a round of high-fives and lunch in town, we set out to do a little bit of hiking. The photos above are from the Baby Bathtubs trail in Ouray. We didn’t do much hiking on the trail. Instead, it became the perfect place to sit back, relax, and let the boys play. Really, just give our guys some water and rocks to climb on, and they are in heaven. When that happens, it means that everyone can really relax. It’s just what we all needed after spending the morning on the road.
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By late afternoon we were ready to head to the campsite and set up for the night. Even though we had the van, we were looking forward to a couple nights of tent camping. Look at that campsite!

The campground is located right next to Canyon Creek, and as you can see from the map, there are many smaller creeks feeding into that one. Admittedly, the roaring water made me pause when we first arrived. I was worried that it would be too much of an attraction to the boys, but luckily even our adventurous boys knew to keep their distance. Eventually we let Alex dip his toes in, and fortunately he decided that it was best to steer clear of the freezing water.

Below is our tent set-up, and I had to include a pic, because holy cuteness. I hope they never grow out of those bug bags (caterpillar here and ladybug here). And, C’s just starting  Charlotte’s Web in the photo below. Be still my heart. <3
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It was so nice waking up Friday morning knowing that we’d be spending the night at that campsite again. Without the need to pack-up, I enjoyed my coffee in the nearby grove of Aspens, stared at the snow-covered peaks, and did absolutely nothing else.
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After our leisurely morning, we headed back into town (just a 10 minute drive, at most). The boys and I went to the large town park for the morning while Calder headed out on a bike ride. roadtrip37

This park came with the most beautiful scenery and a bbq stand. Could we ask for anything more? The boys had hotdogs, and then Calder and I picked up ribs and brisket. Everything was amazing, and being a family that prefers picnics to fine dining, we couldn’t have asked for a better lunch! roadtrip38 roadtrip39 After lunch, we picked up a few supplies for dinner that night, and then headed back to the campground for the most leisurely afternoon. I did some knitting by the creek while the boys napped. In the afternoon we drove up the canyon a bit more to get a different view of the mountains, and then it was dinner, an evening hike, and an early bedtime.
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The next morning we packed up, C took another bike ride while the boys and I wandered around town, then we all hit the hot springs before hitting the road. roadtrip43 roadtrip44

The ride home was long, and not that exciting, but none of us could stop smiling as we talked about the trip.

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