Ouray Colorado, a city of 1,000 people according to the U.S. 2010 Census, is home to some of the Southwest's most unforgettable scenery. Nicknamed “The Switzerland of America,” Ouray is home to a multitude of activities along back roads and scenic byways. Whether you want to explore the San Juan Mountains by hiking, biking, or in an off road vehicle, your trip is sure to be full of breathtaking views of the landscape. Every year the High Desert Cruisers —  a group of Toyota 4x4 enthusiasts based in Albuquerque —  make their annual trip Ouray to explore a side of the San Juan Mountains that few get to see. 

To participate in the event, your vehicle must have low range capability, meaning it requires the use of a low range gearbox. It is also recommended that your vehicle has high clearance. If your vehicle does not fit these requirements or you do not feel comfortable driving on rocky ledges and steep overpasses, there are many opportunities to rent a vehicle or go on a group tour. My family has a tradition of exploring the areas around Ouray with the High Desert Cruisers. 

This year, we drove up some of Ouray’s most famous trails: Yankee Boy Basin and Ophir Pass. Yankee Boy is an easier trail sought after by photographers because of the explosion of wildflowers and waterfalls along route into the basin, just below Mt. Sneffels. Ophir Pass is a moderate, popular route to the northeast side of the San Juan Mountain range. One section of the route features a rocky, narrow shelf road on the west side of Ophir pass which can be challenging for inexperienced drivers.

Amanda Britt is photo editor for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at photoeditor@dailylobo.com or @AmandaBritt__.