That is unless you have a special use permit from the US Forest Service… that brings us to “Black Bear Backwards” (BBB). Running Black Bear Pass backwards – from the bottom in Telluride up to the top -- has been done for years. But you must have a Forest Service special use permit to do it. Otherwise, you are breaking the law. The special use permits come with some stipulations. You MUST start and end your trip at certain times. Only 13-vehicles were allowed in our groups each of the two-days we ran it.
7 AM. The trip over the Dallas Divide was mostly uneventful except for seeing some elk feeding on the lush grasses along the highway.
Having driven Black Bear many times the “normal way”, this trip was likely to be a real treat. We (my Jeep “Happy Trails” and I) had been looking forward to this since back in January. Imagine the dismay of having Happy Trails in the shop weeks before for some suspension refurbishment and not being trail-ready until 5:30 AM the day I had to leave for Ouray! I just had open-heart surgery in February! Another heart attack was not an option.
Pretty much on schedule, we began following Perry Reed up the mountainside. Perry and his wife Leila of the Montrose Wild Bunch Jeep Club did most of the organizing for this adventure. They put on an excellent event and we very much appreciate all their hard work. Not far up the trail we began the warm-ups for the switchbacks to come. These first corners are on a fairly wide road until you come to the Bridal Veil Powerhouse at 10,300 ft. From there to the bottom of the pass is a two-way road.
Arriving at about 5:30 AM at the appointed meeting place in Ridgeway, we departed early for Telluride. We needed to be aired-down and on the trail by
After the airing down ceremony at about 9650 ft. elevation, a quick installation of our new “Black Bear Backwards” flags on various antennae was done to be proudly flown during our voyage. At this point, we were just below the bottom of Bridal Veil Falls… the second highest falls in Colorado at 365 ft. It makes for some grand pictures.
Going up, as we were doing, from the Powerhouse