Colorado Traveler

WINTER ON THE RANCH – A COOL EXPERIENCE

Jan 11, 2015
Bing Images

The little sorrel mare plunges joyfully through the powdery drifts, like a carousel horse freed from its pole. Her shaggy winter coat is frosted with snow and when she pauses at the hilltop, she snorts steam and her sides heave with the effort. Yet, she tugs at the reins, seems eager to push on.

But not yet.

The view from here needs to be savored – silvery snow and dark evergreens are cast against the blue-jay sky over the Rocky Mountains near Granby.

MUSH! WINTER FUN GOES TO THE DOGS

Jan 4, 2015
Bing Images

There’s at least one way to have a blast of snowy fun without even standing up. And that’s tucked into a sled, sitting behind a team of yapping, churning, happy Huskies.

Dog-sledding has become increasingly popular in many Colorado mountain towns and ski areas as a different way to explore the winter wilderness. So whether or not you can ski or snowshoe, you can park your butt in a sled and let someone else do the work while you enjoy the scenery.

TWELVE WAYS TO SAVE ALL YEAR LONG

Dec 28, 2014
Bing Images

Planning a trip for 2015, but need to watch your budget? Consider visiting a destination in its off-season, when airfares and hotel rates are lowest. You may have to deal with less-than-perfect weather, but there are compensations.

Here are some places to visit in their off-season, where you might just find travel bargains.

JANUARY: Denver

The Denver Center for the Performing Arts is in full swing, with half a dozen different entertainments on tap. Speaking of taps, Denver’s famous for its fine micro-breweries, so tip one before the show.

Where to Find Santa Claus

Dec 21, 2014
PHOTOS: Rick DuVal

This time of year, you can find Santa Claus in every mall in America. In department stores and even discount stores. Ringing bells and coddling toddlers. But if you want the real Santa experience, you need to visit him where he lives.

The North Pole.

Disney: It’s Not Just a Small World, After All

Dec 14, 2014
Bing Images

For a landmark wedding anniversary one December, we did what many people do to celebrate an accomplishment. We went to Disney World.

We always meant to take the kids, but somehow it didn’t happen. And, actually, it wasn’t our idea. We thought Florida in December sounded good, and planned to visit relatives, among other things. They suggested spending a day at the theme park.

Disney, without kids, we asked? Sure, they said. People (like them) do it all the time!

So we went.

PHOTOS: Rick DuVal

The flotilla of fat blue and yellow inner tubes sorts itself into single file as we enter the first of five tunnels on our downhill journey through former irrigation ditches on the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i.

The waterway’s banks are lined with tropical blossoms tucked into mosses and ferns. Sunlight flickers through the forest canopy.

Then, darkness.

In the tunnel, our tubes bounce off each other and the walls like blind bumper boats, causing them to spin uncontrollably, twirling downhill in the tepid water.

Then I hear someone screaming with laughter.

SNOWSHOEING – Winter’s Quiet Sport

Nov 30, 2014
Bing Images

Our small band of trekkers chuff-chuff-chuff across a snowy meadow at 9,000 feet on a crisp winter morning. A cloudless cobalt canopy stretches from mountain range to mountain range.

A plump brown mouse darts across the crusted drifts, seeking a seed or other edible tidbit. A snowshoe rabbit, startled by the hikers, darts for better cover.

When the hikers stop, the only sound is their breathing.

This is snowshoeing -- winter’s quiet sport.

PLIMOTH PLANTATION: The Real Story of Thanksgiving

Nov 23, 2014
PHOTOS: Rick DuVal

Thanksgiving automatically brings to mind all the stories we learned in school about how the Pilgrims came to America in search of religious freedom, landed on Plymouth Rock and were saved from starvation by friendly Indians.

Much of what we think we know is wrong. Or at least off-kilter.

“The story we get about the Pilgrims was actually constructed by the Victorians, after the Civil War,” says Kathleen Curtin, former historian at Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Mass.

Souvenirs: Beyond T-Shirts

Nov 16, 2014
Google Images

 On an end table in my living room sits a chubby, six-inch-high blue pottery owl with huge eyes. His name is Bernard.

Bernard was also the name of the slightly plump, doe-eyed waiter who brought us strong coffee and a genuine smile every morning on a trip to Cancun some years ago. When I saw the owl, reasonably priced in the hotel gift shop, I had to have him. Twenty years later, every time I pass by him, I think of how friendly and sweet our waiter—and the people of Cancun – were.

Now, that’s a souvenir.

Union Station: On the Right Track

Nov 9, 2014
PHOTOS: Rick DuVal

The newest hot spot in Denver also is where the town got its start: at the railroad station.

The newly renovated Union Station in downtown Denver echoes the past and celebrates the present. The historic 1914 building has undergone a $54 million renovation that incorporates public spaces, 10 local restaurants/bars, three retail shops (with more to come) and a spanking new 112-room luxury hotel carved out of what once were offices, a drafty attic and, frankly, empty space.

New Zealand: A Visit to Middle Earth

Nov 2, 2014
PHOTOS: Rick DuVal

As winter creeps into Colorado, it’s spring in the southern hemisphere. Time to head south! Way south.

Movie-goers, even occasional ones, can not visit New Zealand without experiencing a keen sense of 

  déjà  vu. A sense of familiarity overcomes visitors as they explore the sharp-peaked mountains, braided rivers, primeval forests, volcanic mud-pots and plump, emerald hills dotted with snowy sheep.

You can’t help but look for Hobbits.

photos courtesy of the BROWN PALACE

At some Colorado hotels, not all visitors check in. Some don't even require rooms. Still, they may overstay their welcome – by as much as a century. 

Many of Colorado’s historic hotels have ghosts – or at least ghost stories.

Take Denver’s Brown Palace, for example.

Corrinne Hunt, former hotel historian, once compiled a list of ghost stories, dating from the elegant hotel's construction in 1892.

Colorado Traveler - Road Food 1

Oct 19, 2014
nationalparkstraveler.com

One of the delights of traveling – in Colorado or anywhere – is finding great local restaurants. They don’t need to be the fanciest, or most expensive – and often they’re not. What they do offer is good food at good prices or something unique that sets them apart from the predictable mediocrity of fast-food and chain restaurants.

During the past 30 or so years of traveling our state, I’ve found a few that are must-visit venues when we’re on the road. I’ll even time my lunch stop to coincide with them – even if lunch has to be at 11 a.m. or 3 p.m.

FORT COLLINS: Bikes, Brews and Fall Football

Oct 14, 2014
PHOTOS: Rick DuVal

Lots of folks around Colorado head to Fort Collins on fall weekends to cheer on the CSU Rams.

And though you could just go up for the football game and come home again, consider making it a weekend getaway.

Football weekends bring crowds and lots of energy to the town, which buzzes with excitement on game day.

Paint Mines and Other Rocky Spots in Colorado

Oct 5, 2014
PHOTOS: Rick DuVal

Rocks. I love rocks. My mom and my sisters love rocks. We don’t know why. We just find them fascinating.

Maybe that’s why I find the Paint Mines so intriguing.

About an hour east of Colorado Springs, just past the town of Calhan, you’ll find the Paint Mines Interpretive Park. Just past the county fairgrounds, you’ll see signs directing you to it.

OJO CALIENTE MAKES THE WORLD GO AWAY

Sep 28, 2014
PHOTOS: Rick DuVal

In the arid, cactus-strewn hills of northern New Mexico lies Ojo Caliente, an isolated hot springs resort where the rest of the world fades away.

From Colorado Springs, head south on I-25 to Walsenburg, then take U.S. Highway 160 west to Alamosa. From here, catch Highway 285 south through Antonito into New Mexico. At the “town” of Ojo Caliente, follow the sign (turn right to get to the resort). The sign’s easy to miss, so watch for it!  Allow about five hours for the drive, depending on traffic.

Photo taken from Bing

It's not too late to do a fall color drive in Colorado. In fact, sometimes the late colors can be the best of the season.

Even if the show is pretty much over for the aspens in the mountains, you still may see bright golds, oranges and even tinges of red if you head south to the Cuchara Valley.

Take Interstate 25 south from Pueblo. In Walsenburg, head west on U.S. 160, then south on Colorado Highway 12 toward the towns of La Veta and Cuchara.

PHOTOS: Rick DuVal

Dinosaurs left tracks all over Colorado, but nowhere is the fascination with these prehistoric beasts so evident as in the northwestern part of the state, home to Dinosaur National Monument.
    About 90 miles north of Grand Junction, you'll pass through the town of Rangely just after you hook up with Colorado Highway 64 west. If you need gas or a meal, get it here. It might be a while before you get another chance.
   The town of Dinosaur, about another 19 miles away, has a Colorado Welcome Center with lots of information on the monument.

DENVER’S GREAT OUTDOORS

Sep 7, 2014

Not many major cities can boast about having two bison herds, a national wildlife refuge, a dinosaur dig, a world-class outdoor amphitheater, and an expansive botanic gardens – all within the metro area.

Add a river where you can go whitewater rafting amid skyscrapers, more than 850 miles of hiking and biking trails, about 200 urban and nearby mountain parks, and you have a city tailored for those who love to be outdoors.

That city, not surprisingly, would be Denver.

Colorado Wine Country Comes of Age

Aug 31, 2014
Photo by Rick DuVal

The rising sun casts a golden net over the vineyards of the Grand Valley, on Colorado’s Western Slope. The grapes seem to bask in the early morning glow as it burns off the mist and shares its warmth. If grapes had faces, they’d be smiling.

This is Colorado wine country.

Twenty-five years ago, most people never heard of it. But in recent years, Colorado wines have been holding their own in prestigious competitions, a sign that the industry is maturing.

East Germany: Behind the Berlin Wall

Aug 24, 2014
Photo by Rick DuVal

Some anniversaries are truly worth celebrating. When the Berlin Wall came down 25 years ago, we saw rubble remaining from World War II and ugly gray concrete buildings erected by the Communist regime. That was 1989.

A year later, East and West Germany were officially reunified. Today, East Germany has blossomed into an inviting destination of modern hotels, fine restaurants and restored historic attractions.

Pueblo: City of Unexpected Treasures

Aug 17, 2014
PHOTOS: Rick DuVal

If you haven’t been to the Colorado State Fair, then you probably also haven’t visited Pueblo much, either.

You should … do both, I mean.

Pueblo may be the most overlooked and underestimated destination in the state.

The fair is the perfect excuse to go to the Steel City. It runs from Aug. 22 to Labor Day, Sept. 1, and includes a carnival, live concerts by famous artists, Western culture, a rodeo and all the trappings. And don’t miss out on the alarmingly unhealthy but tasty fair food!

Riding the Rails in Colorado

Aug 10, 2014
PHOTOS by Rick DuVal

Few sounds evoke Colorado’s history more than the mournful call of a train whistle echoing through a canyon.

It was by train that many settlers and miners came here, and commerce got its foothold on the state. It was by train that schoolteachers, preachers and families traveled to create such communities as Georgetown, Durango, Silverton – even Denver and Colorado Springs.

LITTLETON: Still a little town

Aug 3, 2014
Photo from communityexpert.com

Once upon a time, there was a little town southwest of Denver that served as the hub for a farming community. Founded by a surveyor-turned-entrepreneur, Richard Little, he named it for himself: Littleton.

The town grew. Denver grew. Eventually their boundaries merged. But Littleton has retained its own unique personality despite its becoming what is commonly thought of as a Denver suburb.

Colorado’s Best Beaches

Jul 27, 2014
Photos Courtesy of Colorado State Parks.

Summer’s end already looms near. How can that be? But it’s true – some kids go back to school in less than a month.

Sooo ….

Have you been to the beach yet?

Even though Colorado is a landlocked state, plenty of Rocky Mountain lakes and reservoirs offer miles of shoreline for swimming, playing or just relaxing by a sparkling body of water.

Right here in Colorado Springs, we have Prospect Lake with a roped-off swim beach and lots of sand for building castles. They even supply the buckets. And if you’re unsure of your swim skills, there’s a lifeguard on duty.

The North Rim – Across the Great Divide

Jul 20, 2014
PHOTOS: Rick DuVal

The Grand Canyon has a split personality.

Your experience at one of America’s most iconic sights may well depend on which Grand Canyon you choose.

The popular South Rim bustles with activity, with 45 million visitors a year vying for parking spots, rooms at lodges, tables in restaurants and even a place in line at the gift shop check-out.

There’s a town, Tusayan, just outside the park, with still more lodging and dining options. The South Rim is accessible most of the year.

Then there’s the North Rim.

South Park City: The Old West Town That Never Was

Jul 13, 2014
Photos Rick DuVal

Step off the boardwalks onto the dusty streets of South Park City, and you step back in time. Is it too much, then, to ask that a pair of gunslingers appear for a shoot-out?

Well, probably.

This isn’t a Western ghost town – though you could fool some folks. It’s a museum in the old mining town of Fairplay.

And it’s nothing like the adult cartoon series on TV. No snarky little kids, crude language or dark humor. Just history that practically comes alive before you.

Colorado Traveler: Call of the Wild

Jul 6, 2014
Courtesy of the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center

  The howl of the wolf is a song rarely heard in Colorado these days. The wild ones are gone, driven to extinction by hunting since 1945. The controversy about reintroducing them to the state rages on as we speak. But you can hear their howls at the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center, tucked into a secluded sanctuary near the town of Divide, just west of Colorado Springs, up Ute Pass.

Crested Butte: WILD about FLOWERS

Jun 29, 2014
Sherry Allen

  Summer comes late to Colorado’s high country, but as the snow finally recedes from the peaks of the West Elk Mountains, the wildflowers grow bolder, get taller and paint the slopes with a veritable rainbow of colors.

By July, the Alpine valley that is home to Crested Butte is blanketed with swaths of red and orange Indian paintbrush. Periwinkle blue columbines drape the hillsides around and above town. This natural artist’s palette is rounded out by dainty scarlet gilia, iridescent blue flax, cheery yellow sunflowers, deep purple delphiniums and dusky blue lupines.

Colorado Traveler: A Sea of Grassland Part Two

Jun 22, 2014

Last week, we talked about the hidden beauty of Comanche National Grassland, in southeastern Colorado. We talked about the abundant wildlife and the rock art. But there’s so much more.

  Also in the canyon are ruins of a squatter's cabin, similar to ruins seen all over the grasslands -- stacked but crumbling walls of rocks.

 

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