Traveling In The Time of Covid: Gunnison to Ouray, CO


Montrose to Ouray, CO

This is not the first time Ouray has faced a global pandemic. From 1918-1919 the then thriving mining town enacted a very strict quarantine that initially protected its citizens from the horrors of the Spanish flu. Eventually though the virus broke through with their hospitals then quickly overwhelmed. Times though now are different. Luckily Covid is nowhere near as deadly as the Spanish flu although Ouray no longer actually has any hospitals to be overwhelmed. Per conversations with locals, the only available medical care is at an urgent care in Silverton (a steep drive up the Million Dollar highway) or a tiny hospital in Montrose which is about forty miles away. Any Covid outbreak in Ouray would almost definitely result in patients having to be flown for treatment. Maybe this is why the small town requires all patrons to not only wear masks but to wash their hands with this strange moonshine concoction available by the door that practically strips your skin away while you scrub. Sip it and you will go blind.


No mask for this cat but its owner wore masks proudly advertising their love for one of our favorite National Parks.

They were much more cavalier in Gunnison. Again, per local conversation, Gunnsion has one local hospital with about twenty beds available (and no ICU beds at all). Some of the businesses there did require masks but others were more defiant in the face of common sense. At one ice cream shop the elder employee gave us a lengthy lecture on how it is more important to wash ones hands than to wear a mask. At that point we were less than a week away from our Covid aplenty Chicago neighborhood and a day away from the Colorado Spring area which has seen a recent uptick in cases. Our worn masks were definitely more for his than our protection.


Henna looking down into the abyss of Black Canyon Gunnison

Most distressing to us was experience at the KOA in Ouray where masks were not even encouraged within the campground store or other indoor places. Some employees though did wear masks. Many though wore them around their neck and then covered their nose and mouth only when talking to a masked customer. I have seen this type of situational mask covering and it kind of makes sense. Very respectful but only minimally effective. There may have been a few social distancing markers but those were mostly ignored by the customers and there were no attempts at limiting the amount of people within the store. A large number of campers appeared to be from Texas which is currently among the top Covid surging states in the country. We kept our distance from others as much as possible and wore masks whenever indoors. Hopefully this was enough to keep us safe.


At Black Canyon Gunnison National Park

Along the Perimeter Trail in Ouray

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