Monday, May 27, 2019

Grape Creek


After exploring the headwaters of the Arkansas River, Zebulon Pike ventured south into Spanish territory. No one really knows why. Was he lost? Was he trying to fill in the map? Was he a spy? Whatever his motivation, it must have been strong, as he and his men set out (from what would become Canon City) along Grape Creek on a cold morning in January, 1807.  After reaching the Wet Mountain Valley, they would cross the Sangre de Cristo Mountains through Medano Pass (10,040' elevation...in January!) and eventually reach the San Luis Valley. He was arrested by Spanish authorities, held in Mexico for a time and then released in Louisiana. Today, you can retrace his steps on a portion of Grape Creek on the western edge of Temple Canyon Park. The trail follows the route of an old railroad line that ran briefly between Canon City and Westcliffe in the 1880s. A small portion of the trail lies within private property and is fenced, so unfortunately you can't travel very far going south from Temple Canyon Road (~0.5 mile), but the views make the trip worthwhile.

For more history of the railroad and for descriptions and photos of Temple Canyon, click here.

Directions: Getting to Temple Canyon Park can be a challenge depending on the condition of the road. Although only 7.6 miles from the corner of US-50 and 1st St., the last 5 miles are not paved and many areas are prone to deep ruts from runoff. A high-clearance vehicle is recommended. Head south on 1st St., passed the Robison Mansion and Greenwood Cemetery for about one mile and then, at the "Y" turn right onto Temple Canyon Road. Proceed for 6.5 miles to a parking area next to the bridge over Grape Creek. 

Sunday, May 26, 2019

DeWeese-Dye Reservoir


The Grape Creek headwaters are in the Wet Mountain Valley south of Westcliffe. From there, the creek flows into DeWeese Reservoir north of town. The reservoir was constructed in 1902 to store water for the DeWeese-Dye Ditch, which brings water to the Lincoln Park area of Canon City. Dall DeWeese and C.R.C. Dye were developing a 1500 acre area in Lincoln Park they called "Fruitland." The plan was to bring water from Grape Creek for irrigation, but it was soon discovered the water flow was not sufficient year round. Thus, a dam was built to create a reservoir that would insure a steady flow of water in Grape Creek year round.  The intake for the DeWeese-Dye Ditch is west of Ecology Park in Canon City, about a mile south of the confluence of Grape Creek and the Arkansas River.

The area around the dam is fun to explore. Lots of boulders and interesting rock formations -- and, of course, amazing views!

For more on Grape Creek and its history, click here and here!
Directions from Westcliffe: From Main Street, turn north on Highway 69 (towards Texas Creek) and drive 0.3 mile, turn right on Lake Deweese Road (County Road 241) and proceed 4.6 miles, at the "Y" turn left and drive 0.2 miles to a 'day use' parking area.






Saturday, May 18, 2019

spring has returned


Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems. 
--Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelist. 

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Temple Canyon


History.  The Grape Creek headwaters are in the Wet Mountain Valley south of Westcliffe. From there, the creek flows into DeWeese Reservoir north of town. The reservoir was constructed in 1902 to store water for the DeWeese-Dye Ditch, which brings water to the Lincoln Park area of Canon City. Prior to the construction of the dam, a stage coach road was constructed along Grape Creek, but was soon washed away.  Undaunted, Levi Haley and Harry Breton built a narrow gauge railroad along the creek in the early 1881 to reach the mines in Silver Cliff and Westcliffe, requiring 35 bridges over the winding creek. As the creek drops 2,300 feet in 28 miles in an area prone to cloudbursts, it's no surprise that the line was washed out in spring of 1884. The line was repaired and rebuilt a couple of times before finally being dismantled. It was during the initial construction of the railroad that workers discovered a side canyon leading to a natural amphitheater 100 feet across and 50 feel deep which they dubbed The Temple. It is believed the Ute Indians used the temple for ceremonies. By act of Congress, this area was sold to the City of Canon City in 1912.

Hiking. Today, visitors looking for a fun, adventurous hike can visit The Temple just six miles southwest of town. This hike is really dependent on the amount of water in Grape Creek, which can run so strong in the spring and summer monsoon season as to be dangerous to ford. The trail down to the creek is steep, but the views of Grape Creek and The Temple will make it all worthwhile. You'll want to wear good shoes, but not so good you don't mind wading across the creek. While on the portion of the trail next to the creek, see if you can spot where the train tracks might have once been located.  Once across the creek, you begin your climb into Temple Canyon itself. Although fairly close to town the area seems so remote and undisturbed. The Temple itself is such a unique formation -- it's huge! -- there's lots to explore.

Directions. Getting to Temple Canyon Park can be a challenge depending on the condition of the road. Although only 6.6 miles from the corner of US-50 and 1st St., the last 4 miles are not paved and many areas are prone to deep ruts from runoff. A high-clearance vehicle is recommended. Head south on 1st St., passed the Robison Mansion and Greenwood Cemetery for about one mile and then, at the "Y" turn right onto Temple Canyon Road. Proceed for 5 miles. You'll see a sign pointing the way to "Temple Ridge and Picnic Area," turn right and drive 0.4 miles to the end of the road, near a picnic shed. You'll see a sign pointing the way to the trail which winds around the back of the hill and then down to the creek. You'll have good views of the Temple throughout your journey. Once at the creek, the trail will parallel the creek for a distance. You'll soon come to a crossing, although no bridge or stepping stones exist. After walking through the creek, you'll pick up the trail that will lead you through a canyon and to the Temple. Total hiking distance one way is 0.6 miles.


Sunday, April 21, 2019

Shelf Road


Take the high road. Take the narrow path. Take the road less traveled.

All can be accomplished with a drive on Shelf Road.

Constructed in 1892 as a stage coach route to connect Canon City to Cripple Creek, it was originally a toll road, allowing for people, goods and ore to be transported to and from the booming mines up north. According to goldbeltbyway.com, "A trip along the Shelf Road took six hours upgrade and four hours downgrade. Tolls ranged from thirty cents for a horse and rider to $1.75 for a six-horse stagecoach." The road follows Fourmile and Cripple Creeks and offers amazing views at every turn. It is a memorable, if not harrowing, ride. The south part was cut from the side of the cliffs, high above Fourmile Creek ... thus the name "shelf." It's hard to believe a stage coach pulled by a team of horses could safely maneuver on such a perilously narrow road with its sheer drop-offs, steep grades and sharp curves. While you may not need four wheel drive, a high clearance vehicle is recommended -- and to avoid the road in snowy or muddy conditions. Don't attempt with a trailer, camper, or motor home. Take your time and keep your eyes on the road!

Above is "Window Rock" which is easily spotted from the road on the northern end of Shelf Road (taken in early spring).

Below is a view (looking south) of the road with the Wet Mountains and the snow-capped Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the distance (taken early October).


DIRECTIONS (Adapted from BLM site): From Hwy 50 in Canon City, you can turn north at the Steinmeier traffic light (at Wal-Mart) or head North on Raynolds. Travel north on either road as both will curve to the left and intersect Field Avenue. Turn north (right) on Field and travel on this two-lane road for about five miles. It will join Fremont County Road 9 (also called Red Canyon Road or Garden Park Rd.) at a "Y" intersection. From here, continue north for 9.4 miles...when the pavement ends, that's when the fun begins! From here it's 14 miles to Cripple Creek.

To learn about the Shelf Road Climbing Area, click here.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

blossom


Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
--Marcel Proust (1871-1922) French Novelist and Author.

It's almost time for the Canon City Blossom Festival!

Click here for details!

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Dakota Ridge Trail



From the first parking area, follow the signs to the trail.
For most visitors the drive up and over Skyline Drive is thrilling enough as it is. The narrow, one-way road, winding along the top of a hogback defining the western edge of town, was completed with prison labor in the early 1900s. Skyline offers amazing views of Cañon City, Fremont Peak and the Wet Mountains -- and the drive itself is its own reward.
There is another aspect of Skyline Drive that I highly recommend. At the first parking area (right after the dinosaur tracks), park the car and head up the trail on the Dakota Ridge Trail. You'll immediately come to the sign pictured here - if you're daring and sure footed, I recommend going left and continuing your climb up the ridge. You'll come to a very narrow, somewhat perilous span of trail that will have you clutching the ridge to pass by. (If you go right, you'll by-pass this section). From here, the trail continues along the top of the ridge for 2/3s of a mile before turning east and sharply descending through a series of switchbacks.  This ridge-top portion of the trail will deepen your appreciation for the hogback's unique geology and offer many stunning photographic opportunities.  While Skyline Drive is indeed thrilling, getting out on foot and exploring the ridge offers an unforgettable and unique perspective of this amazing geologic formation.  To read my post on Skyline Drive, click here. To learn more about the Hogbacks Open Space and discover more trails to explore, click here.

Fremont Peak from the Dakota Ridge Trail

Skyline Drive and US Rt. 50 from Dakota Ridge Trail

Sunday, February 24, 2019

excellence


We should not judge people by their peak of excellence;
but by the distance they have traveled from the point where they started.
- Henry Ward Beecher

Above: Garden of the Gods with Pikes Peak in the distance.

This was taken from the Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center, which I highly recommend -- for the educational displays and video and for the views!

Monday, February 18, 2019

Overlook Loop Trail


While visiting the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park, I recommend hiking up the Overlook Loop Trail to get stunning views of the gorge to the east as well as views looking west to the bridge. The trail is mostly easy, but can be challenging if you want to venture in on one of the many side trails for a closer look. Obviously it's important to stay far back from the edge and watch your step to avoid cacti. The trail is a favorite of mine as regardless of season. The trailhead is located at the picnic area just off of Route 3A before entering the park (look for the picnic pavilion and restrooms) -- park here and cross the road and then take the right fork.  For those with limited time, you can drive up the Overlook / Elk Horn Road. But the hike in from the picnic area is well worth the time and effort!  Click here to see all my posts for the Royal Gorge.

Royal Gorge View (looking east) in June

Saturday, February 16, 2019

lofty dreams


Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so shall you become. Your Vision is the promise of what you shall one day be; your Ideal is the prophecy of what you shall at last unveil.  
--James Allen (1864-1912) English author and poet.

This spectacular view welcomes you to Silver Cliff and Westcliffe.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

deep thoughts


Advice is like snow; the softer it falls, the longer it dwells upon, and the deeper it sinks into, the mind. 
--Samuel Taylor Coleridge, English lyrical Poet, Critic and Philosopher (1772-1834).

Above: Snowy scene from the Fremont Campus of Pueblo Community College in Cañon City.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

echoes and whispers


Angels descending, bring from above,
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love. 
~Fanny J. Crosby 

Above: The Holy Cross Abby in Canon City, Colorado. Built in 1924, the Abbey served as a monastery and boys boarding school -- closing in 2005. Tours are available -- visit their website for more information. 

Monday, October 15, 2018

Greenwood Cemetery


Fremont Peak from Greenwood Cemetery
The Greenwood Pioneer Cemetery is the second oldest cemetery in Canon City with the first burial taking place in 1865. Among the notables Coloradans buried here are James H. Peabody who served as the 13th and 15th Governor of Colorado (for more on his history and Canon City home, click here). Others of note include Joseph H. Maupin, Attorney General of Colorado; Guy Hardy, U.S. Congressman; Union Brigadier General Robert A. Cameron (who later helped found Colorado Springs, Greeley and Fort Collins); George Rockafellow, the first mayor of Canon City, Truman Blancett, an early mountain man and scout, who died at age 106; Father John Massaro, a pioneer Catholic missionary; and John Davis, Civil War Congressional Medal of Honor recipient. There is a monument to Confederate solders which is ironically on the north side of the cemetery and a monument to Union soldiers on the south side.

Metal grave marker of an unnamed inmate
There are two large sections of the cemetery where the unclaimed bodies of inmates are buried. Most of these graves are marked with simple metal license-plate-type signs, many without names - inscribed only with "CSP Inmate" for Colorado State Penitentiary. The smaller inmate burial section is found in the southwestern corner of the cemetery and is known as Woodpecker Hill. It was named that because woodpeckers pecked away the original wooden markers. It is said that this location was chosen to insure inmates would never leave sight of the prison.

Territorial Prison from Woodpecker Hill
Click here for more on some of the inmates buried at Greenwood.

Directions: Greenwood Cemetery is located on First Street 0.7 miles south of US-50 in Canon City.
Greenwood Cemetery after an early October snow.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

never forget


I've learned that people will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget
how you made them feel.
--Maya Angelou

Above: Early autumn along the Arkansas River in Cañon City, CO.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Fairplay, CO


Incorporated in 1872, Fairplay, CO is the county seat of Park County. Located 22 miles south of Breckinridge, Fairplay has an elevation of just under 10,000 feet and a population of 679 (2010). In 1874, the Presbyterian missionary Sheldon Jackson constructed a one-room church in the Victorian Gothic Revival style that is now called the South Park Community Church. Its more recent claim to fame is from the television series South Park, which uses the town's nickname as the location of the show.

Click here to visit the town's website.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

stepping stones


The only difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is the way you use them.
--American Proverb

 Bishop's Castle in located along Highway 165 in rural Southern Colorado, between the small villages of Wetmore and Rye.  With its narrow, winding stairways, dizzying towers and playful architecture, this castle is an absolutely thrilling experience. For a full description and more photos, click here.



Saturday, July 21, 2018

lofty heights



There are four ways you can handle fear. You can go over it, under it, or around it. But if you are ever to put fear behind you, you must walk straight through it. Once you put fear behind you, leave it there.
--
Donna A. Favors 

Tackle your fear of heights by riding the gondola across the Royal Gorge! This thrilling ride, 1000 feet above the Arkansas River, is included with the purchase of a ticket at the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park.  For more information click here.   For more photos of the Royal Gorge, click here.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

find the beautiful


Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

B.F. Rockafellow Ecology Park, known by locals as Eco Park, was created on the site of an old landfill on Temple Canyon Road south of Canon City. The park is a hub for biking and hiking on the extensive South Canon Trail System, click here for a PDF map.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Keep climbing


After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.
--Nelson Mandela

View of Cactus Cliff on Shelf Road, a popular place with mountain climbers. Click here for more.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

reverence


Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.
--John Milton 

The Holy Cross Abby in Canon City, Colorado. Built in 1924, the Abbey served as a monastery and boys boarding school -- closing in 2005. Tours are available -- visit their website for more information.