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Archive for colorado

A Landmark Ride in the West

By Linda Tancs

Sixty-four miles of Rocky Mountain splendor await you on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad running between Chama, New Mexico and Antonito, Colorado. A National Historic Landmark, the rails were originally constructed in 1880 as part of the Rio Grande’s narrow-gauge San Juan extension, which served the silver mining district of the San Juan Mountains in southwestern Colorado. Almost lost to history when the last freight train crossed the Cumbres Pass in 1968, the historic route was bought and preserved by both states. Unlike other legacy routes, it features original coal fired, steam operated, narrow gauge locomotives and 19th century passenger cars. Scenic highlights include the Rockies, Chama Valley, Toltec Gorge, Cumbres Pass (the highest mountain pass reached by rail in the U.S.) and alpine meadows lined with wildlflowers, along with an array of wildlife like elk, deer and bears. It takes under seven hours to traverse the entire 64-mile line from Antonito to Chama or vice versa. The regular season runs this year to October 20. Buy your ticket in advance to avoid disappointment.

Denver’s First Block

By Linda Tancs

Denver, Colorado, was officially chartered in 1861, and Larimer Street (named after the city’s founder) became the city’s first street. Historically preserved for 51 years now, the site saw its fortunes fall with the crash of silver and rise again during Prohibition as host of the city’s hottest speakeasy. The luster quickly faded when the old street became skid row amidst rising development in other parts of the city following World War II. Community activism resulted in restoration beginning with the 1400 block of Larimer Street, now known as Larimer Square. Located in historic Lower Downtown (LoDo), the tony locale now boasts a lively mix of restaurants, clubs and shops. Its oldest retailer, Gusterman Silversmiths, is still a treasured tenant.

Taking the High Road in Colorado

By Linda Tancs

Trail Ridge Road, spanning Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park, is the highest continuous paved road in the United States at an elevation of 12,183 feet. It connects Estes Park on the east side to the town of Grand Lake on the park’s western slope. One of the state’s most famous scenic drives, the road crosses the Continental Divide at Milner Pass. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to see the Divide as it winds it way through the state. Due to heavy snowfall, the road is only open from May to October.


Rocky Mountain High

By Linda Tancs

The Rocky Mountains have their share of high points. For instance, there’s Grays Peak, the highest point along the Continental Divide and the Rockies’ 10th highest summit. Longs Peak is another high and prominent summit, beckoning climbers like Rev. William Butler (who climbed it on his 85th birthday) and Clerin “Zumie” Zumwalt, who summited 53 times. Those peaks are both located in Colorado, the home of Rocky Mountain National Park. The park is in the midst of a year-long celebration of its 100th anniversary. Free talks, walks and evening programs are being offered until the centennial celebration closes in September; be sure to check their schedule of events.

The Great Divide

By Linda Tancs

The Continental Divide is an epic hydrological divide separating the watersheds draining into the Atlantic Ocean from those draining into the Pacific Ocean. In the United States, its route is over 3,000 miles long, extending from the Canadian border with Montana to the Mexican boundary in southwest New Mexico. Following this course you’ll find the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, part of a series of national trails established by Congress in recognition of their natural beauty. The Continental Divide trail in particular passes through 25 national forests, 21 wilderness areas and three national parks, providing access to spectacular vistas in some of the most scenic places left in the world. The highest point is in Colorado at Grays Peak (14,270 feet) and the lowest is along Waterton Lake in Glacier National Park in Montana (4,200 feet). The long winter season along the Divide (September through May) is now over. Why not plan a hiking or camping trip! From backpacking to family day trips, there’s something for everyone.

Denver’s Oldest House

By Linda Tancs

Denver’s Four Mile House is the city’s oldest structure, a testament to Colorado’s frontier past.  Operating as a stage stop in the 1860s, it was the last stop coming west to Denver along the Cherokee Trail.  The house is the centerpiece of Four Mile Historic Park, a 12-acre park just miles from downtown Denver.  The locale offers year round educational programming showcasing Colorado’s rich pioneer history.   The house museum is open for tours Wednesday through Sunday.

The Grandest Mile of Scenery

By Linda Tancs

More than just a mile of waterfalls, Colorado’s Seven Falls envelope your senses with not only seven cascading waterfalls but also towering cliffs above the canyon floor and colorful backlighting at night.  The best way to experience the attraction, known as The Grandest Mile of Scenery, is to take the 224 steps by the side of the falls that lead to two hiking trails.  Just 10 minutes from Colorado Springs and five minutes from the luxurious Broadmoor Hotel, this natural wonder in South Cheyenne Canyon was named to National Geographic’s list of international waterfalls.   Purchased earlier this year by the Broadmoor, the attraction is due to undergo renovations and enhancements.  Check their site for opening dates and updated information.

An Elevated Experience in Aspen

By Linda Tancs

There’s a crown jewel in Aspen, Colorado–and no, I’m not talking about the pistes.   It’s the historic Hotel Jerome on Main Street.  Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the ski town’s grand dame was constructed in 1889 by Macy’s co-owner Jerome B. Wheeler.  The luxe property has emerged from a colossal renovation and is, as Norma Desmond would say, ready for its close-up.

Sweet Corn Colorado

By Linda Tancs

Olathe is a tiny town in northern Colorado that has drawn big names for its annual Sweet Corn Festival, a celebration of its agricultural jewel.  Who would think that an ear of corn would attract the likes of Three Dog Night, Kansas, Styx, LeAnn Rimes, Travis Tritt and Clint Black?  This year’s event takes place on 3 August.

The Million Dollar Highway

By Linda Tancs

As far as scenic road trips go, you needn’t pack your bags for the Swiss mountain passes to get the grandest views.   In fact, the “Switzerland of America” is right in western Colorado.  Just head to US Highway 550 between Ouray and Silverton in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado.  Known as the Million Dollar Highway, the former toll road sports the same hairpin turns (sans guard rails, of course) and tremendous vistas you would expect in alpine Europe.  The challenging drive takes you through three mountain passes; the highest is Red Mountain Pass at over 11,000 feet.  The origin of the highway’s name is disputed.  Perhaps that’s just as well because the views are, in any event, priceless.

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