Sunday, November 26, 2017

with imagination

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
― Henry David Thoreau

Above: Royal Gorge Bridge, built in 1929.

Click here for my original post on the bridge and the surrounding area. 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

autumn flight

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.
--George Eliot (1819-1880) Pen name for Mary Ann Evans, English novelist

Above: Ducks take flight above a pond in John Griffin Park in Cañon City.

Click here for a trail map of John Griffin Park, which is part of the seven mile long Arkansas Riverwalk trail. The park can be accessed from Sells Ave (just off of S. 9th St.) or from S. Raynolds Ave. to the east.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Clelland - Peabody House

This handsome red-brick, French/Victorian style home was built in 1881 by a business and political leader in Canon City, James C. Clelland (who died in 1892). The house, however, is more commonly known by the name of its second occupant, James Peabody (who was the son-in-law of Clelland). Peabody, the youngest of seventeen children, rose from humble bookkeeper, to grocery store owner, to bank president and mayor, and finally to Governor of Colorado in 1902. In the years following his death in 1917, the house became a hotel, an apartment building and a store. In 1993, the house was refurbished and is now the home of the Canon City Chamber of Commerce.

For more history about the house, click here.
Location: 403 Royal Gorge Blvd.
For Google Street View, click here.

Sunday, August 20, 2017


What you can do, or dream you can do, begin it;
boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
--Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) German author and scientist

Above: US Highway 50 as it winds along the Arkansas River through Bighorn Sheep Canyon west of Cañon City.

Monday, July 24, 2017

chance the rapids

So don't you sit upon the shoreline
And say you're satisfied
Choose to chance the rapids
And dare to dance the tide
--Garth Brooks, "The River"

For more on Arkansas River rafting, click here. This photo was taken from the viewing deck at Five Points between Canon City and Cotopaxi on Hwy 50.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Oil Well Flats

Just north of Cañon City lies an expansive, thirteen-mile network of mountain biking and hiking trails known as Oil Well Flats. Visitors will discover a unique area with towering cliffs, rugged canyons and wide-open, rolling plains. The views of Cañon City with the Wet Mountains and the Sangre de Cristos are gorgeous. The area got its name from the oil wells that were dug beginning in the 1860s -- which were the first wells west of the Mississippi. In the 1870s, dinosaur fossils were discovered nearby. Needless to say, the geology of the area is amazing -- and being located in the Climate Capital of Colorado, Oil Well Flats can be experienced year round.

The road leading into Oil Well Flats is passable by low clearance vehicles to the first and second parking areas, but if you want to venture further into the area a high-clearance vehicle is required. Please be respectful of the land and only use the trails in dry conditions to avoid unnecessary erosion and damage to the trails. Also be prepared to encounter horseback riders in the area -- and keep all dogs on leash.

There are four main loops of trails: Fracture/Tectonic Shift, Anticline, Island in the Sky and Fire Canyon/Unconformity. But the trails intersect often and other larger routes and loops could be envisioned. Click here for a detailed map.

There are lots of great resources out there to learn more about this area and the various hiking/biking routes:
Fremont Adventure Recreation (JoinFAR) - check here for current trail conditions
MTB Project - detailed trail info and maps
Canyonland Walkers and Hikers - history, detailed maps

Thursday, July 20, 2017

giving nature

In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks.
-- John Muir (1838-1914) Naturalist and Conservationist.

Above: The Arkansas River and Royal Gorge from the Overlook Trail.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Newlin Creek Trail

Newlin Creek is a much loved destination for hikers and rock climbers. It offers a different terrain and feel from the more high-desert hikes found at other destinations in and around Fremont County. Depending on the time of year, the creek itself is not overly impressive, but does offer some small waterfalls and cascades during rainy seasons. The real attractions, at least for me, are the rock outcroppings found along the trail. In many places the trail leads around, sometimes over, sometimes between, these beautiful rock formations. If you go all the way to the end (3.6 miles one way), you'll come to an old 1887 sawmill, complete with abandoned equipment.

Getting there can be a challenge. I strongly recommend a high-clearance vehicle. My Outback did fine, but I'm glad I had the extra clearance. To my surprise, I did see some sedans in the parking area, but I wouldn't recommend trying it. From the looks of it, the road seldom gets attention from the scrapper.  All that said, Newlin is worth the effort to get there -- and you'll be rewarded with a fun and beautiful hike in the woods. Be prepared for creek crossings.

Directions: From downtown Florence, CO, turn south on Rt67 toward Westcliffe.  Drive 4.2 miles, turn right on County Road 15 and drive 6.3 miles to a large parking area.  On your way, the road will fork twice, keep right each time. As you enter the park, you'll have options to split off to the right and left, just keep straight on the main road. 

For information on bouldering in Newlin, click here.
For more information on hiking, click here.

Sign at entrance of park
Large parking area at the end of County Road 15
Sign at trail head with map giving a good overview of the area.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Royal Gorge Route Railroad

If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track, which has been there all the while waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. 
--Joseph Campbell (1904-1987) American Author, Philosopher and Teacher

The Royal Gorge Route Railroad is one of the top attractions in all of Colorado. While the suspension bridge high above is immediately recognized as a remarkable engineering achievement, but the railway below is just as remarkable. Establishing the railroad was a battle, not only with nature, granite and physical limitations (the gorge is just 30 feet wide at its narrowest), but between men as two railroads waged war to control the gorge. It was a battle waged with bullets as well as lawsuits. It went on for decades, ending with a US Supreme Court decision. You can read all about it here.

Today, the gorge is one of premier tourist destinations in Colorado. The scale and beauty of the gorge is experienced up-close as passengers enjoy exceptional dining services and comfort. There are various levels of service provided, from coach to first class -- with all having access to the open-air car for a completely immersive experience of the gorge and its wonders.

Click here to learn more and to make reservations.

Above: A view of the railroad from the Tunnel Drive Trail.

Monday, June 19, 2017

blossom among thorns

The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.  
–From the movie, "Mulan"  

Sunday, June 18, 2017

White Water River Rafting

“We said there warn’t no home like a raft, after all. Other places do seem so cramped up and smothery, but a raft don’t. You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft.”
--Mark Twain

One of the biggest tourism draws for the Royal Gorge region is rafting on the Arkansas River. From Buena Vista to Salida to Cañon City, the river is a magnet for adventure seekers as well as for those just wanting to relax and enjoy the rugged beauty of the area.

Rafting packages can range from half-day to full day trips with different levels of experiences: from a more relaxing float to an exhilarating, white-knuckle adventure. There are many different outfitters to choose from, click here for a list.

The photos here were taken from viewing deck at Five Points (between Canon City and Cotopaxi) and the Tunnel Drive Trail overlooking the river outside of Cañon City [click photos to enlarge].

Monday, June 12, 2017

Lincoln Mountain Open Space

Just off of Colorado 83 between Larkspur and Monument is an enormous 876 acre park with over 8 miles of trails. Popular with horseback riders, bikers and hikers alike, the area features grassy meadows, forested areas, rocky cliffs, mesas with great views and abundant wildlife. There are two main trails to choose from, both over 4 miles long: the Palmer Divide Loop and the Lincoln Mountain Loop. If you want views of the front range, take the Lincoln Mountain Trail.

For more information, click here.

Directions from COS: Drive north on Hwy 83. Turn left on Jones Rd, about 6 miles north of Highway 105. The trail head is about a half mile further on your right.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Section 16

Most popular with horseback riders, Section 16 also a peaceful, easy place for hikers to explore. Located in Black Forest, the pines offer plenty of shade on hot days as visitors make their way around the 4 mile, rectangular looped trail.

For directions and more information, click here and here

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Homestead Ranch

I wish I had more time when I stopped by Homestead Ranch one evening. But it was getting late and I walked the dog as far as I could with the light that remained. But what I saw made me want to come back and explore some more. Near the parking area is a pond with numerous picnic areas around. I saw some people fishing and other packing up after their dinner. I went on around the lake and up into the woods where the trail became more steep and eventually leveled out on a wide open plateau. It's from there I shot the sunset photo and started heading back. But I loved the portion of the trail I saw and the remote, rustic feel of the land there. At 450 acres and over three miles of trails, there's a lot to explore.

The park is located outside of Peyton, CO, east of Black Forest. To learn more about the Homestead Ranch Regional Park and for maps and directions, click here and here.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Palmer Lake and Santa Fe Trail

Officially called Palmer Lake Regional Recreation Area, Palmer Lake is a very popular place for hiking and fishing. It's a beautiful and easily accessible destination near I-25 and Monument, located in the small and charming town of Palmer Lake which has numerous restaurants and shops to discover.

Visitors will also find access to the 15 mile long Santa Fe Regional Trail that runs from Palmer Lake south through the Air Force Academy.  The trail follows an old railroad line and is an easy grade for walking and biking. Trailheads can be found at Palmer Lake, Third Street (Monument), Baptist Road, Highway 105, Northgate Road, Ice Lake, and at the Air Force Academy. Click here for more information.

Directions: The lake can be reached from I-25, exit 161, then northwest on Highway 105 for approximately 5 miles; east at County Line Road to the park entrance.