Colorado, Rocky Mountains,
Colorado is a state in the Mountain West region of the USA. It includes most of the Southern Rocky Mountains, as well as the western edge of the Great Plains. estimated the population of Colorado is around 6 million.
Colorado has borders with Wyoming, Utah, Nebraska, Kansas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. It also touches Arizona in the far southwest at the four corners. (More in the Southwest Colorado blog.
Since the late 1990s, Colorado has been the site of many major mass shootings all well documented by international media. Including the infamous Columbine High School Massacre in 1999, where 2 people killed 12 students and one teacher. The incident has since spawned many copycat incidents in 2012 12 people shot and killed in a movie theatre in Aurora. March 22, 2021, 10 people killed in a supermarket in Boulder, in 2022 5 people killed in a nightclub in Colorado Springs. Who said Mexico or Africa are dangerous!!!!!
The Rocky Mountains within Colorado contain 58 peaks that are 4,267 m or higher. Only small parts of the Colorado Rockies are snow-covered year-round. Much of the alpine snow melts by mid-August.
The Rocky Mountains, locally known as the Rockies, cover 5 states New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and crossing into Canada in the North.
The main river in Colorado is the Colorado River which begins in north central Colorado and ends 2330 kilometres downstream at the Gulf of California. The river is fed by snow melting in the Rocky Mountains and passes through seven U.S. states and part of Mexico. The Colorado River is the home of the Hoover Dam. The Hoover Dam is in Black Canyon and helps control the flow of the Colorado River.
After leaving Scott’s Bluff in Nebraska, our first stop in Colorado was Loveland. A neat little town on the foot of the Rocky Mountains National Park. Just a few kilometres from the mountain village of Estes Park, we entered Rocky Mountain National Park. Great scenery, more than 100 soaring mountain peaks over 3000 meters, alpine lakes, and abundant wildlife showcase nature at its best. Highest mountain peak in the park is Longs Peak at 4320 meters high. This amazing park has, 725 kilometres of rivers and streams, nearly 600km of walking trials and 150 lakes.
The headwaters of the Colorado River are in the park’s northwestern region. All this combined results in lots of scenic vistas. Rocky Mountain National Park is known for 2 famous drives, the trial ridge road between Estes Park and Grand Lake (80km) and the Bear Lake Road a dead end 15 km trip to Bear Lake. Driving across the park we reached 3787 meters at the highest point on the Trial Ridge Road. (Milner Pass while crossing the continental divide)
This park like Glacier NP requires you to obtain a timed entry pass online.
Trail Ridge Road connects the entrances in Grand Lake and Estes Park. We entered at the Beaver Meadows Gate. This was on the East side driving west to Grand Lake through many hairpins turns. Many turnouts allowed us to enjoy the amazing scenery. Immediate after entering the Park another must do road is the detour to Bear Lake.
The history of Rocky Mountain National Park began when the Indians travelled along the trial ridge road. Settlers began arriving in the mid-1800s, displacing the Native Americans who mostly left the area voluntarily by 1860, while others were moved to reservations by 1878. Rocky Mountains National Park is one of the highest National Parks in the USA.
We left Rocky Mountain National Park on the south side and bush camped in the National Forest west of Lake Grant. From here we continued to the ski areas we visited in our younger days, Copper Mountain, Vail, Beaver Creek, and Aspen.
While Copper Mountain is best known as a world-class ski area and snowboard park, it is a pedestrian-only village and in winter it offers, skiing, snowboarding, snowmobile tours, dogsledding and nightlife. In summer Mountain Biking offering long rides into the Rockies to some of the best lift-service single track in Colorado. A Bike Haul is offered for those seeking more of a downhill adventure. Experience golfing with the stunning Ten Mile Range backdrop. All this, and year-round events such as live music, culture, art, and food festivals. Copper Mountain hosted Cup skiing in 1976 Slalom, Giant Slalom, and downhill. Copper mountain also has a 2000sq meter indoor ski and snowboard area dedicated to training.
It has the ambiance of a modern resort coupled with the unhurried feel of an alpine village, gorgeous Rocky Mountain views make this town very attractive to visitors from all around the world. Beaver Creek is a regular host of world cup events, especially early in the season. The valley that houses Beaver Creek Resort lies just south of Avon and was first settled in 1881. Many early pioneers moved to the area under President Abraham Lincoln’s Homestead Act. It took from the 1950s (Earl Eaton) and Pete Seibert (1970’s) till 1980 when an Oil Tycoon decided to develop the village. Beaver Creek opened as a ski resort in 1981. Today it is an upmarket high-class resort offering all the facilities you can imagine and heated footpaths in winter. Walking in Beaver Creek you find that the work force is from around the world (backpackers, seasonal workers and in winter ski instructors) Beaver Creek is a ski resort with another adorable village at the base. It has a full range of restaurants, from casual to fine dining, a skating rink in the main square in winter, and hotels.
The ski resort town of Vail is one of the best places to visit in Colorado in winter but it’s also a pleasant place to enjoy at any time of year. When it comes to skiing, this is one of the best ski resorts in Colorado with seemingly endless runs for all levels. Clary and I skied Vail, Beaver Creek, and Aspen many years ago. This is a high-end resort with luxury hotels, fine dining, and designer stores. Vail is a Tourist Mecca. Vail is home to around 5500 permanent residents and at least 6000 parttime residents. Add to these another 5000 seasonal workers during the 2 seasons. According to the proud locals Vail with its world-renowned skiing, diverse shops and restaurants, luxurious accommodations, year-round events, friendly locals, and breath-taking mountain views, is one of the best villages to live in and they think the finest resort destination in the world. The Vail economy relies heavily on tourism. The main attraction in winter is skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing and you can party all night long. (Après Ski) In Summer golf, 25 kilometres of walking tracks, nearly weekly special events, music festivals, cultural events, and film festivals.
From Vail we continued south to Leadville the third highest city in the USA at 3096 meters (Alma and Montezuma are the highest cities in the USA) This road is also called the scenic byway and travels all the way to Aspen. Big skies and majestic views soaring mountains over 4250 meters enroute on this amazing tourist route. Lots of little historic towns and developed mountain villages such as Breckenridge and Aspen with 5-star amenities. The road crosses the Continental Divide three times, including Tennessee Pass and Independence Pass. After the historic town of Minturn, we crossed the Red cliff bridge and continued to Leadville exploring the footsteps of Native Americans and those who came to find their riches in silver mining town of Leadville. Leadville was a boomtown with an economy originally built on silver. Once the richest town on earth, the downtown is lined with well-preserved Victorian buildings now converted to shops, restaurants, galleries, and offices. Much of the town is a designated National Historic Landmark District.
The town of Twin Lakes is nestled below Mt. Elbert, Colorado’s highest mountain at 4380 meters, and Mt. Massive at 4372 meters. Named for the two serene lakes. The two lakes in this valley were formed by glacial activity but were later enlarged to provide water storage for Colorado’s Front Range. There are miles of shoreline to explore. The lakes’ deep water is stocked every year with brown, rainbow, and cutthroat trout, which makes for excellent fishing. In the winter, when the lakes freeze over, Twin Lakes becomes one of Leadville’s most popular ice fishing destinations. Great bush camping on the lake shore, or the surrounding mountains offering great bush camping with amazing views.
After a day and a half at Twin Lakes we continued over Independence Pass on State Highway 82 and into Aspen. Independence Pass starts at 2800 meters and climbs to 3665 meters at the summit, which is surrounded by Peaks of 4000 meters. It’s a historic mountain pass that leads up and over the Continental Divide and leads straight into Aspen. Follow Castle Creek Road to the historic Ashcroft Ghost Town This historic silver mining town, founded in the 1880s, and in 1883 had a population of 2000 was a thriving mining community until it shut down in 1885, leaving just 100 people in town who eventually all abandoned town leaving the place frozen in time.
This historic former mining town has blossomed into one of the most high-end, charming, boutique small towns in the USA. The best things to do in Aspen typically take place outside both in summer and winter. You can catch a scenic gondola right from the heart of downtown that will take you up to the top of Ajax Mountain at 75.00AUD PFFFF in any season for the world’s best skiing and hiking.
Aspen itself is steeped in mining history. The architecture of the buildings tells the story. Within these historic facades you’ll find everything from designer labels to local boutiques. Chic hotels, restaurants, art galleries, bakeries, Night clubs, Bars, sidewalk cafés, outdoor bars and more. Aspen is a boutique destination and is home to some of the leading and most luxurious hotels in the world.
It does not get more vibrant than downtown Aspen. No matter what time of the year, this hot spot is one of the best places to see and be seen. At night Aspen has amazing entertainment and you could be rubbing shoulders with the world’s most famous people. Just in case you like to live in the vibrant tourist town of Aspen the median sales price of a single-family home in 2021 in Aspen was $9.5 million.
Typically, the town is home to only 7,000 residents, but that number quadruples dramatically during winter and summer, when the historic streets flood with adventurers and lovers of good food, shopping, and lots of entertainment.
Another must do is the John Denver Sanctuary named for the American singer who wrote Rocky Mountain High. Many of John Denver’s most famous lyrics by having them carved into boulders. If you happen to be in Aspen in October, the sanctuary hosts a celebration to pay tribute to the late artist. The event features musical performances, readings, festivities, and other ways to highlight the life and career of the artist who felt so at home in Aspen.
We left Aspen for our last stop at Glenwood Springs before entering Utah. We followed the track up under the gondola and found a great campsite overlooking the valley. Why pay 70USD to stay at a RV park what offers next to nothing.
Till Next Time from Utah when we visit Moab, Arches and Canyonlands National ParksThis entry was posted in Latest Update