Priest Gulch, Colorado

Priest Gulch-25On Friday, May 13th we left Mesa Verde and drove in the RV to Dolores, CO, not very far away. We are staying at the Priest Gulch RV Park located on the Dolores River, a beautiful site nestled in the pine trees listening to the roaring river go by. In the afternoon we drove in the jeep over Lizard Head Pass to Telluride where we ate lunch at the Brown Dog Pizza Restaurant. There is still a lot of snow on the pass and the mountains, so we won’t be able to do any backpacking while we are here. The next day we drove to Dunton Hot Springs, a private town turned into a private resort set in a picturesque wooded area off the beaten path. There is a gate across the road so no one can trespass unless guests,  we took photos from afar. Near by we hiked the Geyser Spring Trail, 2.5 miles R/T, the trail ends up at a small warm pool fed by the only true geyser in the state of Colorado. We started the trail by crossing a foot bridge over the West Dolores River  and climbed 500 feet to 9,100 ft in elevation. The sulphur smell is very strong and there is a sign warning people not to bathe in the pool due the sulphur dioxide eruptions that occur every thirty to forty minutes emitting strong sulphur gases. We had been here in 2009 and there was no sign, so we did bathe in the pool with no side effects. The water was not very warm this time, so we did not attempt to bathe. Click on thumbnail to view images

The next morning we decided to hike the Priest Gulch Trail across the road from the RV Park. The Priest Gulch Trail begins by crossing Priest Gulch Creek and starts a fairly steep accent up a red dirt ridge with many switchbacks, it passes thru lush meadows and a forest of spruce, fir, and aspen. The elevation at the start is 8,050 ft., and we climbed to about 11,000 ft., then we turned around before reaching the junction with Calico Trail at 7.5 miles. The weather was variable with rain, sleet and a little snow, it was time to head back, doing about 12 miles total. Love this RV Park but the weather is not very conducive to sitting outside and having a fire in the fire pit. Instead we went for another hike to the Bear Creek Trailhead just down the road. The trail starts at 7,960 ft, it traverses the entire length of Bear Creek, and we hiked up to about 10,000 ft before turning around due to snow and sleet again. We will definitely try and return to Priest Gulch RV Park, and hopefully have better weather so we can do some backpacking in the area or just chill. Click on thumbnail to view images