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Mountain House for Sale
Located in Ridgeway, Colorado this 15,000 square foot ranch could be your dream home! This luxury estate has many unique features, and its panoramic views are spectacular....

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San Juan Mountains

The San Juan Mountains are a rugged mountain range in the Rocky Mountains in southwestern Colorado. The area is highly mineralized (the Colorado Mineral Belt) and figured in the gold and silver mining industry of early Colorado. Major towns, all old mining camps, include Creede, Lake City, Silverton, Ouray, and Telluride. Large scale mining is now uneconomical in the region, although independent prospectors still work claims throughout the range. The last large scale holdouts were the Standard Metals operation on Red Mountain Pass which operated until late in the 20th century and the ill-fated Summitville mine on the eastern slope of the San Juans.

There is some tourism in the region, with the narrow gauge railway between Durango and Silverton being an attraction in the summer. Jeeping is popular on the old trails which linked the historic mining camps, including the notorious Black Bear Road. Visiting old ghost towns is popular, as is wilderness trekking and mountain climbing. The San Juans are extremely steep; only Telluride has made the transition to ski resort. Purgatory (now known as Durango Mountain Resort) is a small ski area north of Durango near the Tamarron Resort. There is also skiing on Wolf Creek Pass at the Wolf Creek ski area. Recently Silverton Mountain ski area has begun operation in Silverton. It is a highly rated extreme ski area and is currently available by reservation only.

The Rio Grande rises on the east side of the range. The other side of the San Juans, the western slope of the continental divide, is drained by tributaries of the San Juan, Dolores and Gunnison rivers, which all flow into the Colorado River. The San Juan and Uncompahgre National Forests cover a large portion of the San Juan Mountains.

The San Juan range forms the southern part of Colorado's Rocky Mountains and is thought by some to have the best, most varied scenery of all. Spanning the continental divide, it has numerous jagged volcanic summits, 13 of which rise to over 14,000 feet, many lakes, waterfalls and streams including the source of the Rio Grande, several historic towns and countless relics from the gold and silver mining era of the nineteenth century.

Almost all of the land is publicly owned, within parts of the Uncompahgre, Gunnison, Rio Grande and San Juan national forests. The western third is the most accessible, and many of the well known sites are found close to a loop drive ('The San Juan Skyway') along roads CO 145 and US 550, over 200 miles of dramatic, winding roads that pass the old mining centers of Silverton, Ouray and Telluride. Silverton is the northern terminus of the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway, one of only two remaining stretches of a once extensive system that criss-crossed the southern Rockies. The railway follows the deep, forested Animas Gorge for 45 miles through several tunnels, over high wooden bridges and across the face of steep slopes, and is a very popular attraction, usually open from May to October. Most of the central San Juan Mountains are reachable only on foot or jeep trails - an area 40 miles square with no paved roads that includes about 80 miles of the continental divide. There is one other road across the eastern mountains, where the summits are a little lower: CO 149 through the small villages of Creede and Lake City. These are also former mining towns and both make a good base from which to explore the surrounding wilderness.

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