We are now in Colorado and have been since early July. Colorado has used a number of slogans to attract tourists to their state. Some examples are “Colorful Colorado,” “Enter a Higher State,” “The Switzerland of American” and “Colorado Rocks.” Whatever the slogan, we’ve been enjoying our stay here in the cool 7,800’ elevation.
In the small mountain town of Westcliffe (population 500), we immersed ourselves in four days of marathon bluegrass. We dry camped onsite with the mountains as our backdrop. Our days went something like eat, walk to music tent and listen to music, take an afternoon siesta, listen to more music and then sleep. Repeat. What a great festival!
Next stop was Buena Vista just 70 miles away. The drive along highway 50 parallels the Arkansas River and is gorgeous. It was mining that originally brought people to this area but today Buena Vista and the nearby cities of Salida and Leadville are outdoor meccas for hikers, ATVers, cyclists and rafters.
We particularly enjoyed cycling the Mineral Belt Trail in Leadville. The trail was designed to take you through the actual former mining sites that lay above the city. The trail is only 12 miles but, at over 9,500 feet, we were gasping for air. The first five miles were uphill. There were a number of interpretative displays that chronicled the history and stories of the mines and miners eking out a living. Some of the mines were extracting over $1,000 a day worth of minerals and the miners were paid about $2.50 a week!
The trail summits at 10,606 and from there, we enjoyed a fun seven mile downhill. It was an excellent way to learn about Leadville’s mining history. Hard to image how hard it was to survive during that era.
We are now in Gunnison, Colorado. The drive here was also stunning. The route took us from 7,800’ up to Monarch Pass at 11,300 feet. It has been years since I’ve done mountain driving but I did just fine. We will be in the area for three weeks staying as a couple of different places while here.
Stay tuned for more of our adventures in Colorado…the Colorful State…or is it the Switzerland of America…maybe it’s the Higher State… AHHHH, nice and cool!