"After venturing twenty thousand miles, through two countries and the Arctic Circle in our FJ Cruiser, we settled down in Durango, Colorado, and grew our family by a '73 Land Cruiser and blue heeler pup."
That's the short story behind @boldbrewteam, our good friends and creative team in Colorado. Always shying the beaten path, here's Adrian, Amanda and Reina's local's guide to venturing through the mountains and deserts of the Four Corners, paired with some excellent photos from a recent shoot they did for us with @alisonvagnini.
Best Back Roads & Views
With family roots in the San Juans and summer / winter childhood vacations from New Mexico, Adrian knows his way pretty well around the dirt roads we wander. Off-roading seems to be in our blood and you can usually find us combing the old mining routes of the high country throughout summer and fall.
For lesser known routes, hit the La Plata Mountains in the Dolores District, from the west side of the range. From here you can hike Sharkstooth Peak and the easily visible Hesperus Mountain, the highest in the La Platas.
Find some of the most well-known roads and views around Silverton and Ouray. Cinnamon Pass takes you to a few easy 14ers, like Handies, Redcloud and Sunshine. Engineer Pass is a view not to be missed and leads you to the tallest mountain in the San Juans, Uncompaghre.
It's fun to take the 4x4 passes to all the picturesque mountain towns in the area too.
Bolam Pass and Ophir Pass get you between Durango and Telluride, while Engineer and Cinnamon Pass (The Alpine Loop) are the routes between Lake City/Creede and Silverton. The Alpine Loop is a breath-taking must-see in the San Juans. But, shhh, don't tell anyone else, please!
In Canyonlands? Hit the White Rim Road. It takes two days and requires a 4x4 vehicle, but is definitely worth the extra effort.
We prefer to camp in solitude, off of a lot of the backcountry roads mentioned, in places you'll rarely find neighbors.
Dispersed camping is permitted in most national forests and on BLM land. Try to camp where fire rings already exist, put out your fires well and, please, never leave behind your trash. Road statuses and maps can be found via the Forest Service.
If campgrounds are more your style, South Mineral Campground is also a great spot near Silverton and the Amphitheater campground in Ouray has got to be one of our favorite campground views (plus you can hop into town for a quick evening hot springs dip!)
Moab's gotten pretty popular lately (for good reason), so a lot of the BLM land camping nearer to town requires you to be in a designated campsite. Here's a great map for area details.
If you're a bit further out of the area, the BLM land surrounding The Needles District of Canyonlands is incredible, with lots of space, dirt roads to explore and spectacular views.
Venture south of the red rocks canyons and you'll hit the Cedar Mesa canyons of Utah. Some epic backcountry hiking and lesser-known ancient ruins are scattered throughout the area. But, you'll have to find these gems on your own, because we'll never tell.
Best Local's Spots
Even though we love camp cooking, we've found some delicious watering holes in all our neighbor's towns and we love finding new places whenever we venture out. A few of our favorites include:
Best tacos, Tacos Nayarit. Best brewery, Ska Brewing Co. Best patio, Olde Tymers Cafe. Best street food, The Box. Coffee, Eno, serving Desert Sun.
Hit up Maggie's Kitchen for a killer elk burger after exploring Yankee Boy Basin or hiking Sneffels in Ouray. Enjoy the views and brews from the roof-top patio at Ouray Brewery.
Grab delicious BBQ at Bubba's in Mancos on your way back from hiking the La Plata's or hitting the single-tracks at Phil's World in Cortez.
Get coffee before hitting the Via Ferrata in Telluride at The Coffee Cowboy.
Enjoy Moscow Mules after exploring high country ghost towns at Montanya's in Silverton.
Make time for Thai Paradise in Ridgeway and Moab Brewery in Moab.
You'll have to swing by for our prized fishing spots, backcountry trails and ski runs. We love swapping stories, but only share these treasures with good friends over a few beers.
Western Rise gear featured: Granite Camp Pants, Hartsel Henley, Granite Camp Shorts, Enamel Camp Mug, Elk Foam Shop Hat, Tincup Canvas Hat, Tomichi T-Shirt.
Other gear featured: Vasque, Yeti, Woolrich, Rumpl and Munk Pack.
Photos by our good friend and talented photographer, Alison Vagnini, @alisonvagnini.