In praise of place: Ouray and environs (part 8)
Signs of the mineral wealth initially responsible for Ouray’s existence abound throughout the area. One of the best-preserved of the old mining regions can be accessed just north (on the Ouray side) of Red Mountain Pass; it’s appropriately referred to as the Red Mountain mining district.
Passersby on Hwy 550 can get a glimpse of the historical mining ruins off to east from the pullout at the Idarado Mine. Those willing to get off the highway can drive right up to many of the old buildings via Cty Rd 31, which is a pretty decent dirt road that most high clearance vehicles should be able to navigate (last time I checked; don’t take my word for it).
One of the highlights of a visit to the old Red Mountain district is a close-up view of the fabulous Yankee Girl Mine, whose headframe (seen above as it was in 2005, and below during a post-preservation tour conducted by Ouray Mayor Bob Risch in 2006). Members of the non-profit Red Mountain Project have worked selflessly to acquire ownership of these relics of Colorado mining history, thereby ensuring their preservation.
Are you ready for the disclaimer? Because here it comes: Never approach or attempt to enter an old mine shaft or tunnel if you value your continued existence. Furthermore, don’t even think about relic hunting amongst the ruins. Whatever you remove diminishes the history of the region.
Take pictures instead. They make the best souvenirs of all.