Colorado Travel Destinations

 

Colorado was named for the Colorado River and is also called The Centennial State.  Colorado is one of our favorite states to visit while we travel in our RV.  Colorado is rich in pre-historic and early American history.    Even though our travels include more than our national parks, they are a popular RV travel destination for us.  We are providing a list of Colorado’s 13 national parks below.

 

  • Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site, La Junta, CO
  • Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park, Montrose, CO
  • Cache La Poudre River Corridor, CO
  • California National Historic Trail, Various States, CA, CO, ID, KS, MO, NE, NV, OR, UT, WY
  • Colorado National Monument, Fruita, CO
  • Curecanti National Recreation Area, Gunnison, CO
  • Dinosaur National Monument, Vernal, Utah & Dinosaur, Colorado, CO,UT
  • Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, Florissant, CO
  • Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve, Mosca, CO
  • Hovenweep National Monument, Blanding, Utah & Cortez, Colorado, CO, UT
  • Mesa Verde National Park, Cortez and Mancos, CO
  • Old Spanish National Historic Trail, AZ, CA, CO, NV, NM, UT
  • Pony Express National Historic Trail, Various States, CA ,CO, KS MO, NE, NV, UT, WY
  • Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park and Grand Lake, CO
  • Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site, Kiowa County, CO
  • Santa Fe National Historic Trail, CO, KS, MO, NM, OK
  • Yucca House National Monument, Cortez, CO

 

In our RV travels, we like to support local businesses, especially restaurants as we like to try the local cuisine vs the chain restaurants.  We have included, if applicable, our recommended RV parks and any restaurants we particularly liked in these areas.   As RV parks, attractions and restaurants can change owners and/or management, we cannot guarantee the same level of food/service/accommodations as we experienced so please check current reviews and recommendations.  Reviews of businesses can usually easily be found on the internet by searching for the business name.

 

Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad & Museum, Durango, CO  – This is a fabulous train ride from Durango, CO to Silverton, CO with beautiful views.  You will be going into higher elevation so Silverton can be cooler.   We stayed in Towaoc, CO and it is quite a drive from Towaoc to Durango so if you are planning to do more sightseeing in the Durango area, I would recommend staying closer to the town.

Anasazi Heritage Center, Dolores, CO  –  The center is a museum of the Ancestral Puebloan (or Anasazi) culture and other Native cultures in the Four Corners region.

Four Corners, CO, NM, AZ, UT  –  The Four Corners is the only place in the United States that four states (Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah) touch at a single point.   This is a remote area with no electricity, running water or telephones.  There is the Four Corners Monument, some vendors and porta potties.

Hovenweep Blanding, Utah & Cortez, Colorado, CO,UT  –   Hovenweep contains six prehistoric, Puebloan-era villages spread over a twenty-mile expanse of mesa tops and canyons along the Utah-Colorado border.

Mesa Verde, Cortez and Mancos, CO  –  This park protects over 4,000 known archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings and offers a look into Ancestral Pueblo people lives.

Lowry Pueblo 27 miles northwest of Cortez, Colorado  – Part of the Canyons Of The Ancient National Monument, Lowry is an ancient pueblo constructed approximately AD 1060.  You can walk around and inside the pueblo.

Towaoc, CO  – Towaoc was our base camp while touring the areas of Mesa Verde; Four Corners; Hovenweep; Aztec Ruins; Durango, CO; Anasazi Heritage Center and Lowry Pueblo.

 Recommended RV Park:  We liked the Ute Mountain Casino and RV Park with a view of the Sleeping Ute Mountain.  We have read some complaints about the sites not being level but we did not have a problem as our leveling jacks did just fine.  You may want to request a site close to the office for strong WiFi.  The weekly rate was very reasonable if you can do better than I did in staying out of the casino!!  The casino and RV park are on the Ute Indian reservation and alcohol is strictly prohibited anywhere on the reservation.  However, we kept ours inside and did not have a problem.  The Ute Indians have Pow Wows in June and August and we were honored to be able to attend one.

 Recommended Restaurants:  Tequila’s Mexican Restaurant in Cortez, CO is excellent.  I especially liked the option of ordering your meal “American Style” with a salad and french fries instead of beans and rice (though I always told them to hold the fries).  We also enjoyed the menu items at the casino.

Check love-to-rv.com often as we will be adding other destinations as I research back into my journals from previous RV trips and as we continue to travel and find new and interesting places to go.

 

Colorado Springs: Pikes Peak Mountain Sightseeing Bus Tour

I live in Houston, and I have worked as a nurse. My interests include art, traveling, reading, gardening, cooking, and our wonderful pets.

Flowers viewed going up Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs.
Flowers viewed going up Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs. | Source

America the Beautiful

This towering mountain in Colorado Springs dominates the landscape. Naturally, when my mother and I were visiting Colorado Springs while on vacation one year, we wanted to see the top of this “purple mountain majesty” and did so by purchasing tickets on a Gray Line sightseeing bus tour.

Why was the term “purple mountain” used?

For those who might not know, the well-known anthem “America the Beautiful” was inspired when Katharine Lee Bates gazed at the wonder of Pikes Peak which is over 14,000 feet in elevation. She was a professor of English literature at Wellesley College who happened to ride to the top of this Pikes Peak in a wagon in the year 1893.

Purple Mountain Majesty
Purple Mountain Majesty | Source

The words of the first verse of “America the Beautiful” are as follows:

“O beautiful, for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain. For purple mountain majesties, above the fruited plain! America! America! God shed His grace on thee and crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.”

It is such a beautiful song, and Pikes Peak is an appropriately beautiful sight!

Bierstadt painting of Pikes Peak
Bierstadt painting of Pikes Peak | Source

Pikes Peak

Driving up to the summit of Pikes Peak would have been a daunting task for one who is used to the flat topography of Houston, Texas. My mother and I were leasing a car while on this Colorado vacation and decided to just be a passenger on a Gray Line tour of this mountainous climb of over 6,710 feet. It is riddled with turn after turn on a graded road with some sheer drop-offs.

Once we started the ascent we were even happier that we had made that decision!

Pikes Peak highway from about 13,000 feet
Pikes Peak highway from about 13,000 feet | Source

Bus Tours

Often when on vacation we have taken advantage of bus tours when we are in new places. Not only do the bus drivers and tourism guides know the lay of the land but also impart information about what one is viewing.

The Gray Line tour that my mother and I chose to take to ascend Pikes Peak was well worth the money.

Crystal Reservoir Visitor Center
Crystal Reservoir Visitor Center | Source
Close-up of a columbine flower—the Colorado state flower.
Close-up of a columbine flower—the Colorado state flower. | Source

Crystal Reservoir

A stop was made part way up the mountain, at the mile six marker at the Crystal Reservoir visitor center. Stopping at this point in the ascent up Pikes Peak gives people a chance to see the beautiful Crystal Reservoir and walk around a bit to become more acclimatized to the altitude and purchase refreshments or use the restrooms if desired.

We took the time to ambulate, take photos, and generally enjoy the scenery.

 

View of Crystal Reservoir on our way up Pikes Peak in Colorado.
View of Crystal Reservoir on our way up Pikes Peak in Colorado. | Source

Activities at Pikes Peak Mountain

At Crystal Reservoir it was easy to see that mountain climbing classes were being held. We saw quite a few people making their ascent with the help of instructors.

Hiking, fishing and boating is also enjoyed at this high elevation mountain lake and locale.

Mountain climbing classes at Crystal Reservoir
Mountain climbing classes at Crystal Reservoir | Source

Ascending Pikes Peak

Looking out the Gray Line bus windows towards the mountain as we were ascending Pikes Peak in July, we saw numerous blooming wildflowers amidst the rocks.

Scenery viewed from the bus windows going up Pikes Peak.
Scenery viewed from the bus windows going up Pikes Peak. | Source

Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

There are adventurous auto racers that race this road on an annual basis some of which is not even paved but gravel.

Crazy! That is my sole opinion after traveling up this mountainous road with the relative assurance of having a seasoned bus driver escorting us. That was scary enough for me!

1916 was the date of the first Pikes Peak International Hill Climb race.

The course is over 12 miles long and consists of 156 turns and just about 5,000 feet of elevation gain. There are very few relatively straight stretches of highway, and in those rare instances, some of the winning cars have exceeded 130 miles per hour!

For race car drivers such as the ones who compete in the Indianapolis 500, this is just another test of their skills and competence in handling their souped-up race cars.

Looking at a car venturing up Pikes Peak.
Looking at a car venturing up Pikes Peak. | Source
Pikes Peak Highway
Pikes Peak Highway | Source

Pikes Peak Summit

The air is thin at the summit of Pikes Peak. From that vantage point if the day is clear one can see as far as Kansas and even New Mexico. There is a restaurant/souvenir shop at that location that actually offers an oxygen bar for those people who are having a bit of difficulty in breathing.

Naturally, most people wish to have their pictures taken at that landmark location and my mother and I exchanged cameras with other tourists and snapped photos so that we could each take home proof of our having been to the summit of Pikes Peak.

Summit of Pikes Peak with my mother.
Summit of Pikes Peak with my mother. | Source
Monument to Olympic winners at the top of Pikes Peak.
Monument to Olympic winners at the top of Pikes Peak. | Source

Pikes Peak Cog Railway

Climbing nine miles up with a vertical ascent of 7,539 feet one can choose to get to the top of Pikes Peak by riding the highest cog railroad in the United States instead of driving or hiking.

Yes, some adventurous and athletic types really do choose to hike up Pikes Peak!

Many people ride this cog railway and see mountain scenery from that perspective.

People arriving on the Pikes Peak cog railway.
People arriving on the Pikes Peak cog railway. | Source

Zebulon Pike

He was an explorer and soldier who attempted climbing the mountain in 1806. Pikes Peak now bears his name even though he never made it to the top.

His mapping of the area was most important and furthered exploration of the west.

View of the cog railway track and beautiful rainbow at the top of Pikes Peak.
View of the cog railway track and beautiful rainbow at the top of Pikes Peak. | Source
View from the top of Pikes Peak.
View from the top of Pikes Peak. | Source

As you can probably see from these Colorado Springs vacation pictures, a sightseeing bus tour of Pikes Peak or a cog railroad trip to the top makes for a unique experience.

One is rewarded with spectacular scenery as one travels through five different life zones. On a clear day it almost seems as though the horizon from this top of the world perspective is limitless.