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Motors and Muscles

My primary reason for going to Silverton was to hike a bunch of 14ers and other trails that I never had time for while living in Colorado. But there's other playtime to be had in this part of Colorado, especially on those endless trails. Many are better explored on 4x4s than foot, as long as you have the stomach to handle narrowly scooting by other vehicles on a strip of road between a rock wall and a steep drop-offs. 

I had a blast renting ATVs with friends last summer and whipping around groomed trails in a recreation area where the biggest danger was a blind corner or two. While the mountain passes around Silverton are slower, they are more technical and offer instant death if you aren't careful. So, of course, I had to join the fun.

I didn't take any videos on Imogene Pass but it's a rowdy time for sure. The best part was charging through streams. I can't believe I did that pass years ago in a stock Jeep Wrangler when I had almost no off-roading experience. The RZR was much more fun. This time I've been rallying my my cheap Dodge Nitro up and down Engineer Pass and Cinnamon Pass, which are just as bad. (And I had to get a new alternator while I was here because of it, though my car does have 150,000 miles on it now. Shout out to the Bearded Wonder for the efficient and very reasonably-priced service!) But that's about as tough as I'm willing to go in that vehicle. I'd totally be game for more RZR fun anytime though! 

four people in the mountains wearing off-roading helmets

After a day of off-roading (which also included a hike up my first class 3 14er, Mt. Sneffels, very taxing on my upper-body muscles and quads), the crazy drive wasn't over. We still had to get back to Silverton over the Million Dollar Highway. While paved, it also features instant death drop-offs with no guardrails. I've driven it over a dozen times now and don't find it to be a big deal, but a friend who was with me was not so blasé. Understandably!

woman sitting in a rock gully leading to a mountain top

Back in town, the 47th annual Hardrocker Holidays were in full swing. Feats of strength all weekend long, including machine mucking, gravel-filled wheelbarrow racing, arm wrestling, single-jacking, and tug of war.

It's all part of the grand mining tradition of Silverton, as this photo from the San Juan County Historical Society shows. Which, by the way, if you get tired of all the motors and muscles, you should definitely visit. This is a highly underrated museum with a stellar collection of everything that represents this region.
old black-and-white photo of town square with a festival going on