While I’ve finished the byways and don’t have any other travels planned at the moment, I decided to create a travel guide (of sorts) to highlight the 25 scenic and historic byways of Colorado in one place.
I used a trial software package that is typically used by instructional designers (my profession) in developing web-based training courses. The travel guide is not a training course, but the software offers some powerful features that made it easy for me to pick this software to create the guide.
Sooner or later, I will create the guide using InDesign, but for now, I’m happy with the results using Storyline2.
These are just a few of the questions that many visitors, heck I would say that even Coloradans, ask during the different seasons here in Colorado.
If you are looking for mountainsides covered in color in the middle of summer, then my answer would be…Crested Butte.
As a matter of fact, Crested Butte is considered the “wildflower capital of Colorado” and rightfully so. Every turn along every road and every path and trail in mid-summer is bound to take your breath away. And, every summer, Crested Butte hosts the annual Wildflower Festival during the second week of July. Not that the wildflowers don’t bloom at any other time, but mid-July is peak season for a show of colors.
I’ve been wanting to go to Crested Butte during the wildflower festival for several years now and this year, I finally did it. While my trip out was only for the day, I did my best to make it worth the four and half-hour drive from my place in Denver. The flowers, the town, the people and the weather did not disappoint.
Hiking around Crested Butte:
I took my daughter along this particular trip and we left before the sunrise. We made it to town in time for breakfast and after that, we were on our way to hunt for the best display. I quickly found out that no matter where we chose to go, we were not going to be disappointed. But, on advice from the nice folks at the visitor center, my daughter and I attempted to hike Woods Walk. This is an easy trail for low-landers and those who typically don’t get out to hike too often…ahem, my daughter. I wasn’t disappointed and despite my daughter’s tummy acting up (she headed back to the car while I wandered around the mountainside), I was treated to an amazing display of color and blooms.
When I got back to my car, I made a pit stop at a gas station for two tall cold bottles of water and my daughter and I were off again to explore another area I was curious about….Gothic. This ‘ghost town’ is quite the opposite…as in, the place is bustling with activity; from hikers, to scientists, to visitors wanting to learn more about the biological lab which is the main focal point of town. “RMBL was founded in 1928 on the remains of an abandoned mining town in Gothic, Colorado. Approximately 160 people are in residence there during the summer field season. Over 1200 scientific publications have been based on work from the Laboratory (currently 60-80 per year).” (Wikipedia)
We took a little break here at Gothic and then continued along the road as far as I thought my little old two-wheel drive car could handle it.
At one point, about a half-mile outside of town, a sign is posted that warns, “Only 4-wheel drive” can handle the road ahead. I kind of ignored this sign for about two more miles before I gave in and we headed back toward the Crested Butte area. Of course, not before I took a few more shots of the amazing scenery of the area. Oh and by the way, this road continues over Schofield Pass and then on to the town of Marble on the other side of the mountain range. One section along this road is affectionately named, “The Devil’s Punchbowl.” Go ahead, look it up! My suggestion would be to search for videos on YouTube.
The next curiosity I wanted to satisfy had to do with the Castles along Ohio Pass road. Of course, I found many images of the Castles on the Internet, but I had to see it for myself. So, off we went over another dirt road. This time though, the dirt road is a little tamer as compared to Schofield Pass road. To get there, I took Hwy12, otherwise known as Kebler Pass road to the junction with Ohio Pass road. This junction comes about 100 yards east of Kebler Pass. The road is actually a forest road, so it isn’t as well maintained as Kebler Pass road, but still drivable in my little old car. Not too far after the junction, you come out of the pine trees and to an area of road which is not quite wide enough for two-way travel.
The road has a sharp drop-off, but the views are spectacular. After a few miles of driving downward through an extremely old stand of very tall aspen, we came to a very open valley, green with grass and dotted with several ranches. I found the wildflowers a little harder to get to along this road, since many of them were up steep hillsides. The road continues on from here for another 20 miles until it reaches Hwy50. Since I had other things on my mind, I turned around and headed back toward Hwy12.
This road is 32 miles long and connects Crested Butte to Hwy133 and Paonia on the southern end and Carbondale to the north. The road itself takes you through what may be the oldest stand of aspen in America (just hasn’t been proven yet). The aspen are tall and straight, and the feeling you get while driving through them is that of serenity and peace. Of course, that is if you aren’t zipping through as if on your way to an important meeting. When you come out of the aspen on the northwestern side, you get an amazing view of the Anthracite Range.
Along this route, it’s best to hike one of the many trails (Lost Lakes, Lake Irwin, Anthracite, and more) to get a better view of wildflowers. While the aspen are amazing along the road, the plants that cover the floor (under the aspen) are mostly fern with a sparse few lupine scattered throughout for good measure. I know that I could have found plenty of wildflowers had I had the time for another hike.
After the Anthracite Range, I turned around and headed my humble little car back in the direction of Crested Butte for dinner before hitting the road for a four and a half-hour drive. My daughter and I stopped in at The Last Steep and enjoyed massive sandwiches….I had the jerk chicken and she had a “basic” burger.
When all was said and done…I decided that most definitely, I will return with a mission. Whether that mission will be to capture the rapture of fall, or to seek out new wildflower hidden treasures, some of the beauty is in the planning, or lack there-of as the case may be. Crossing fingers that part of the next excursion includes a few nights local stay.
Some of the Colorado wildflowers we viewed, but did not necessarily capture digitally include:
Check out Colorado Wildflowers website for more info on the many different wildflower species in Colorado.
Guess which Colorado Scenic and Historic Byway these two photos were taken along. Guess the byway by Friday, April 25th at midnight PST and win your choice of photo from the byway’s blog post. The first person to correctly guess in the comments section below wins! Review the rules here…
Guess which Colorado Scenic and Historic Byway these two photos were taken along. Guess the byway by Friday, April 18th at midnight PST and win your choice of photo from the byway’s blog post. The first person to correctly guess in the comments section below wins! Review the rules here…
Guess which Colorado Scenic and Historic Byway these two photos were taken along. Guess the byway by Friday, March 21stth at midnight PST and win your choice of one photo from the byway blog post. The first person to correctly guess in the comments section below wins! Review the rules here…
Congratulations to Brenda Phelps! A Facebook friend who correctly guessed that the photos posted in last week’s contest were taken along the Collegiate Peaks byway.
These two photos were taken along an extremely mountainous byway in Colorado. Each was taken off the byway by a few miles, but the off-byway road-trips are quite welcome on all of the byways.
Photo 29: This photo was taken off of the main byway along a dirt road that leads to what seems like the foot of Mt. Antero. This particular mountain is a gem mining smorgasbord. Hundreds of placer claims have been filed all along this mountain with miners that spend their time digging during the summer months and dodging rocky mountain thunder storms.
Photo 30: This photo was taken at the end of a row of historic buildings at the west end of the town of St. Elmo. While some consider it a ghost town, people still live here and run businesses out of 100-year-old buildings.
Congratulations to Brenda Phelps! A Facebook friend who correctly guessed that the photos posted in last week’s contest were taken along the South Platte River Trail.
These two photos were taken along probably the shortest byway in Colorado, situated in the extreme northeastern corner of the state.
Photo 27: This photo was taken in Julesburg, CO across the street from the Hippodrome. This theater was built in the early 1900s and is still used today as a cultural arts center as well as a movie theater where first run movies are shown on weekends.
Photo 28: This photo was taken outside the Fort Sedgwick History Museum in Julesburg. Fort Sedgwick was established just west of the town of Julesburg and was meant to guard the transcontinental trade and communications route.
Guess which Colorado Scenic and Historic Byway these two photos were taken along. Guess the byway by Friday, March 7thth at midnight PST and win your choice of one photo from the byway blog post. The first person to correctly guess in the comments section below wins! Review the rules here…
These two photos were taken along different stretches of the byway.
Photo #21: This photo is the historic Beckwith Ranch just north of Westcliffe along hwy69. No one has lived at the ranch for many years, but the historical society cares for the ranch which is used for weddings and other activities year round.
Photo #22: This photo was taken along one of the many iron walkways that surround the infamous Bishop’s Castle along hwy165.
For years, my riding buddies (and I on occasion) have ridden the twisting/winding roads that lead down to this castle, making the trip a roughly 500-mile, round-trip, day-long, fun-infused ride.
I know a couple of Colorado natives who quickly guessed this byway correctly, but they, like me, wanted someone else to guess. So, where in Colorado can visitors view bighorn sheep up-close and personal? Check out blog post Byway #9.
Photo #19: This photo was taken at the parking lot at the top of Mt Evans. The animal in the photo is a bighorn sheep. It seems there’s a lot of salt deposits along the edge of the sidewalks and along the roadsides leading up to the top of the mountain.
Photo #20: This photo was taken at Summit Lake just before the top of Mt. Evans. At this elevation, there are no trees, so the landscape turns to alpine tundra. There is a trail that leads to the lake, but going off trail not only would mean wet soggy shoes, but walking along the tundra will kill it. The growing season is very short at this elevation and in drastic climate conditions. My advice when visiting mountain tops – stay on the trail!