If you have driven around town and seen those white trucks with green roofs, and wondered what those vehicles were – well those are Telluride Outside’s 4-WDs. They perform like jeeps, but offer more seating and I had the privilege to hop on a tour to see what it was all about. Unfortunately my weather was not the best, but I did not let the rain ruin my afternoon in the mountains!
After climbing in the 4-WD we headed up Tomboy road. Almost immediately you are treated to beautiful views of the town and valley. Early on, we learned the inevitable complications of sharing these rudimentary roads with cars coming from the opposite direction. One time we had to back up about two hundred yards because a jeep was coming our way and there was not enough room for both vehicles. It was a little scary, the edge was close and the fall would be far…but I had complete faith in my driver’s capabilities. The reward was some of the prettiest views of Bridal Veil and Ingram Falls. The view was a panorama of the whole basin, with both cascades featured as the center piece.
My favorite part of the trip thus far was a huge red rock wall that jutted up right next to the road. I noticed plenty of large holes that punctured the wall with shards of rock scattered around underneath in the shape of a star. We were told these were caused by the dynamite blasts used in order to build the road over a hundred years ago! The beauty of such a simple and old relic fascinated me.
Once we are a little over half way up the road it started to rain a little bit, I wasn’t cold yet, thankfully. Our first stop was a view point from where we could see Tomboy Basin and some old mine shafts. The basin was pretty clouded, reducing visibility, but still stunning, I can’t imagine what it would look like on a sunny day. The shafts were super interesting to learn about. These were used to ferry materials to and from the men working in the mine. The remaining structures are pretty run down but the history is still spectacular.
We drove through Tomboy Ghost Town, which was a mining town when our mountains where rich with gold and silver. It had about the same number of people living there as Telluride does today! Most of the buildings are no longer there, but enough are left to make you wonder about the mining way of life. Interestingly, no single women were allowed to live in Tomboy. So many women would make it to Social Tunnel, which was as far as they were allowed to go without a husband, and single men from the town would come down, pick a wife and then both of them could head to town as newlyweds.
As we were nearing the top we could see snow, and if you looked close enough you can see the ski tracks of the diehard ski junkies who can’t wait till winter to get some turns in. We could no longer see much more than a few yards ahead of us because we were in the clouds. Once we reached the top we were at an elevation of 13,114 feet! We were on what is called Imogene Pass. It is a road that goes from Ouray to Telluride. Our guide tried to explain what mountains were around us, but we couldn’t see any of them, and it was very disorienting.
Once every one was done taking their touristy pictures, including me, we headed back down the way we came. Unluckily, I had become pretty cold but I still ended up laughing at every bump that shot me out of my seat. When we passed Tomboy again, or guide had asked if we wanted to wander around the town off the road for a while, but my group had not wanted to, due to the weather, but if you have the chance, I suggest you take it. It seemed really cool to explore a real Ghost Town.
Overall the trip was incredible! My guide was great and seemed to know everything about the road, the town and its history. I guess that is to be expected after leading tours for 10 years. As long as you don’t mind a bumping ride and wind blowing in your face I would recommend this tour for history buffs, adrenaline seekers and those who just want to explore further than what the eye can see in town.