Scenic Buena Vista

A 4-Wheeling Adventure To Ptarmigan Lake (Photos - August 4, 2007)

The Sunrise
Colorado Sunrise
We were driving west into the mountains on Chaffee County Road 306 ("Cottonwood Pass Road") when Steve and I realized there was a wonderfully colorful sunrise happening behind us. We quickly pulled over to capture the view above. Nice!
Clouds Engulf Mt. Kreutzer and Emma Burr Mountain

Clouds over Mt. Kreutzer Clouds over Emma Burr Mountain
The original plan was to hike to the top of Emma Burr Mountain, perched on the Continental Divide at 13,537 feet. To reach its vicinity, we drove west into South Cottonwood Canyon (past Cottonwood Lake) and continued to its end in an area known as Mineral Basin. (Last month, my friend Shannon and I drove in his Land Cruiser on a sunny morning to this area. See photos here.)

Unfortunately, clouds engulfed much of the mountains and the forecast called for rain and the possibility thunderstorms all day, so we opted to postpone this hike for another week.

LEFT PHOTO: The view of Mt. Kreutzer, a nearby 13er that was mostly covered by clouds.
RIGHT PHOTO: The entire peak of Emma Burr Mountain covered up.

4-Wheeling - Mineral Basin Area To Ptarmigan Lake

4-Wheeling So what did we do? Since we were in Steve's Toyota 4-Runner and we were looking for adventure, we drove up a bumpy dirt road that led very close to Jones Mountain and Ptarmigan Lake.
Toyota 4-Runner This is when Steve "got serious" and locked his front wheels in unison! ;)
Colorado 4-Wheeling An example of the road's condition! :p)
Colorado 4-Wheeling
Colorado 4-Wheeling
Another particular stretch that was fairly bumpy!

Here are my other 4-wheeling adventures:

  • Tincup Pass
  • South Cottonwood Canyon - Mineral Basin
  • Last Dollar Road (Near Telluride)
  • Jones Mountain
    Mineral Basin Area
    Morgans Gulch
    Rocky Mountains
    The road reaches a clearing and continues on to old mining spots in Mineral Basin. We pulled over at this point to snap some scenic pictures.

    TOP: Jones Mountain, alt. 13,218 feet.

    SECOND: Looking back down the road.

    THIRD: A grand view of Unnamed Peak (alt. 12,900 feet).

    LAST: Looking out into Morgans Gulch.

    From the spot I snapped the four photos above, there is a parking area and a short trail leading to this saddle ...

    Ptarmigan Lake
    Ptarmigan Lake
    Ptarmigan Lake
    ... and just over that pass, we were practically right there at Ptarmigan Lake! :)

    You can see all of my photos and a tribute to Ptarmigan Lake here:

    Turner Peak It was so nice to be at Ptarmigan Lake and the novelty of coming over from the other side was a thrill! I snapped a bunch of photos of the lake, including this one that focuses on Turner Peak (alt. 13,232 feet) to the north.
    Ptarmigan Lake Ptarmigan Lake LEFT: Jones Mountain stands above Ptarmigan Lake.
    RIGHT: That pointed peak is actually "Jones Mountain South," a sister peak that stands at 12,995 feet.
    Ptarmigan Lake Another photo of the lake with a clear view of the saddle that leads into the South Cottonwood Canyon and Mineral Basin area.
    Steve Quilico Special thanks to Steve Quilico for generously driving his 4-wheel drive vehicle up there and sharing this adventure with me. Steve fished in the lake for awhile as I wandered around the lake.
    Jones Mountain One more grand view of Jones Mountain.

    Colorado Wildflowers
    Colorado Wildflowers Ahhhhh! The wildflowers near Ptarmigan Lake were just wonderful! Colorado has had a relatively wet summer and it appears the rains have lengthened the life of these beautiful wildflowers in the high country.
    Colorado Wildflowers Lots of color!
    Columbines We also spotted a few columbines, which is the state flower of Colorado.

    The Skies Clear For A Short While - Emma Burr Mountain

    Last but not least, as we were driving back down the gulch, we noticed things had cleared up at least somewhat in the skies. And what do you know? I got this photo of Emma Burr Mountain! (Right peak in the back)

    We definitely made the right decision to postpone hiking this mountain, for soon after clouds and rain took over and dominated the rest of the afternoon. We'll be back soon! :)

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