San Juan History & Geology Getaway


June 17th – 21st, 2024



5 Days, 4 Nights: Registration is currently open! Register before April 5th, 2024 & save $300!


Join The Crested Butte Museum for a five-day journey throughout the San Juans for a tour exploring historic and geologic sites with historian Duane Vandenbusche and Geologist Steve Jenkins.  Learn about mining, the landscapes, and more on this educational tour that visits Silverton, Telluride, Ouray, Durango, and many sites in between.  This tour includes transportation, all accommodations, all tour and activity fees, a field note booklet, and select meals throughout the trip. All proceeds help support the Crested Butte Museum.



  • A visit to Pioneer Point high above the famous Black Canyon, where the first Bureau of Reclamation project in history took place, with the building of the Gunnison Tunnel
  • Gondola ride with John Stevens, COO of Telluride Mountain Resort, to hear all about the history of Telluride and a beautiful overlooking view of the town
  • A guided private tour at the Ames Power Plant, where the use of alternating current electricity took place, not regularly open to the public
  • Ride the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad’s scenic steam train with iconic Animas River Canyon views along the highline
  • Explore Ferdinand Hayden’s Geological Survey of the 1870’s and the impact that it had on Colorado, railroads, and effectively mining in the San Juans
  • Optional hike on Ophir Pass, a scenic trek boasting beautiful views and a significant connection to mining history


Tour Guides

Duane Vandenbusche, Historian

Dr. Duane Vandenbusche served as a professor of history at Western Colorado University from 1962 through 2021.  He taught on the history of the US West, especially water, public lands, and the environment. His history of Colorado’s Western Slope, A Land Alone, has been the standard text on the region since its publication in 1981. He served as the State Historian for the 2020–21 term. He is the author of 11 books, including: “The Gunnison Country,” “Around Monarch Pass,” and “Lake City”.  

Steve Jenkins, Geologist

Steve retired from Chevron after 37 years looking for oil/gas in the Rocky Mountains and various corners of the world. Gunnison has been “home base” since 1992 when he was stationed overseas for most of the year. He helped to develop a new seismic technique (4D) to peer into the rocks and find oil in Sumatra, Indonesia. His kids Ben and Anna-Marie were born in Indonesia. Later he was stationed in Nigeria, Angola, and finally Kazakhstan where he worked on the development of Chevron’s largest oil field. You could find him building computer models of oil fields and guiding wells to targets miles below the ground. He had the good fortune to escape into the field and conduct geologic studies in the mountains of Italy, Spain, Turkey, the Rockies, and even Texas (Guadalupe Mountains). Following his retirement from Chevron Steve has continued exploring the mountains of Western Colorado.  Steve holds a BA in Geology from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville (1979) and an MA in Geophysics from Indiana University, Bloomington (1981). You may know his wife Cindy Jenkins (Klinker). She grew up in Crested Butte and Gunnison, and graduated with a Geology Degree from Western State College.


Day 1: Monday, June 17th
  • Meet in Gunnison for check-in, introductions, and load luggage and yourselves on the bus.  Meet your guides, Duane and Steve.
  • Blue Mesa Reservoir: Towns under water, Creede, Lake City and Water in the West by Duane Vandenbusche, Steve Jenkins on the geology of the Blue Mesa Reservoir
  • Poineer Point: Duane Vandenbusche on Black Canyon, Fellows and Torrence and Gunnison Tunnel, Steve Jenkins on Geology
  • Ridgway Train, Galloping Goose ride and tour trains
  • Check-in to accommodations, and explore Ouray on your own for dinner

Accommodations: Hot Springs Inn, Ouray

Included Meal: Lunch

Day 2: Tuesday, June 18th
  • Enjoy Breakfast at Hot Springs Inn, Ouray
  • Visit Box Canyon with geology and history notes during a brief walk
  • Tour Beaumont Hotel in Ouray for talk on historic hotels
  • Shop at the Ouray Bookstore
  • Lunch at Idarado Mine Pullout with history and geology notes
  • Arrive in Telluride and check-in Bear Creek Lodge, Telluride
  • Gondola ride with John Stevens, COO Telluride Resort, overlooking Telluride on Telluride history
  • Explore Telluride and have dinner on your own

Accommodations: Bear Creek Lodge, Telluride

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 3: Wednesday, June 19th
  • Enjoy Breakfast at Bear Creek Lodge Lobby
  • History of Telluride by Duane Vandenbusche
  • Visit the Pandora Mill, learn about Black Bear and Imogene Passes and Powerhouse, view Bridal Veil Falls
  • Private Tour of Ames Power Plant, followed by lunch along the river
  • Optional Hike of Ophir Pass (8 miles), or Explore Ouray & Silverton on Your Own
  • Check-in to accommodations in Silverton, Dinner on your own

Accommodations: Grand Imperial Lodge, Silverton or Villa Dallavalle Historic Inn
Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4: Thursday, June 20th
  • Enjoy breakfast at your hotel
  • History of Christ of Mine Shrine and Silverton
  • Old Hundred Mine tour by guide 
  • Explore the town of Silverton, have lunch on your own
  • Historic Durango/Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Train Ride
  • Enjoy dinner and Durango on your own after checking into Durango accommodations

Accommodations: Best Western Plus, Rio Grande Inn

Included Meal: Breakfast

Day 5: Friday, June 21st
  • Breakfast at Best Western
  • Visit the Fort Lewis Overlook, learn about the history of Durango, Hayden’s survey, mining camp characteristics and geology
  • Tour Mayflower Mill
  • Free time for lunch in Ouray on your own
  • Arrive in Gunnison around 5pm to say goodbye!

*Schedule this day subject to change 

Included Meal: Breakfast


Hot Springs Inn, Ouray

Each clean, spacious room overlooks the Uncompahgre River with a private balcony, 2 luxurious king sized beds, air conditioning, refrigerator and much more.  Take advantage of onsite laundromat, hot tubs and grills.  Enjoy an evening stroll on the Uncompahgre River Walk located right outside your door.

Bear Creek Lodge, Telluride

All residences include a generous-size living room with a gas fireplace that are furnished in a warm and inviting decor, a spacious dining area, full gourmet kitchen, jetted tubs, mountain views, plush robes, luxurious bedding, washer/dryer, wireless Internet, in-room safe, hair dryers and ironing board/iron.

Grand Imperial Hotel, Silverton

Often referred to as “The Grand Lady of the San Juans,” “The Crown Jewel of Silverton,” or simply “The Grand,” the Grand Imperial Hotel is a recently-renovated, 40-room historic Victorian hotel in Silverton .  Originally constructed and opened in 1883 by New York perfume and lumber magnate W.S. Thompson, the Grand Imperial Hotel offers guests the unique opportunity to luxuriously step back in time.

Villa Dallavalle Historic Hotel-Inn, Silverton

The longest family run business in Silverton, The Villa Dallavalle was built in 1901 by Giovanni Dallavalle. The European history and style , from the stone building to the quaint rooms, will take you back to the 1800’s when our family immigrated to Silverton from the Tyrol, Italy. Each room tells a story of Silverton’s history.

Rio Grande Inn, Durango

Located 1.5 blocks from historic downtown Durango, you will find the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, a plethora of local restaurants and nightlife, stunning art galleries, and unique shopping. All of downtown Durango is within walking distance. Two complimentary cocktails for guests 21 and older are included in the booking.


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