the wandering chick
...driving through Colorado
from Idaho Springs to Glenwood Canyon

It was the Fourth of July weekend, and I was leaving Missouri, headed to southern Utah. That took me right through the middle of Kansas and into Colorado.

I was pretty much blown across Kansas, stopped to sleep and then kept on going. But when I reached the Colorado border, I wanted to see more and spend a few days. I could have gone anywhere I wanted schedules, no deadlines, no obligations and no one waiting at the other end.

My first little excursion was a scenic route, Highway 86, into Denver from the I-70. I dipped a little south in Limon, then headed due west, then cut up north. When I got back on the interstate and was west of Denver, I decided I'd best pull over and decide where I was least give myself a general direction if not a specific location.

I took the next off ramp, which led me indirectly to a Home Depot parking lot. I parked and got out the map. It was a tough decision. I'd like to see Denver, but big cities aren't my thing...I prefer the countryside. I'd always heard of Estes Park and Boulder. Thought Vail would be nice to see.

I got out a couple of brochures I had picked up when I entered the state, and one of them was on train excursions. The closest one to my current location was Leadville, a small historic mining town just south of Vail in the Arkansas River Valley. And it so happened that another brochure listed the Highway 91 that lead to Leadville as a Scenic Byway called "The Top of the Rockies."

That gave me what I needed: a destination, a goal and something to look forward to.

I decided to spend the night in Idaho Springs, a town that seemed filled with young adventurous river rafters, then head down the scenic road the next morning. It was only maybe an hour away. It was a beautiful drive, as was the morning. Not a cloud in the sky.

As I pulled into Leadville, I got out the brochure again and saw that the train left at 10 a.m. It was 9 now, so I had time to kill. The Leadville, Colorado and Southern was a steam train that takes you on a 3-hr trip high above Highway 91 in a general north direction, to Bartlett Mountain and back.

After the train ride, I ate, checked out some of the town, and decided to head a little further south on Highway 91 to Twin Lakes. It was there that I spotted a cozy looking campground. I normally carry my tent and camping gear in my car (for reasons unknown), so I was prepared to set up camp if there was an opening. The campground host told me of a few and said to pick my spot.

I paid my fee, bought some firewood and set up camp. Sat the rest of the day reading, working puzzles and enjoying the view overlooking the Twin Lakes. My firewood lasted until about 9:30, at which point I went to bed with a smile on my face.

The real treat was yet to come. Breakfast at the Tennessee Pass Café on Leadville's Main Street. Don't know what it was that captured my heart, except that it was so cheerful and cozy. Nice colors, lots of colors. It was done well. And it had a good menu and good coffee.

It was finally time to head to Moab. I went through the Glenwood Canyon, which in and of itself is definitely a place to go back to. The problem is, there doesn't seem to be any side roads that one can take, only the interstate. I got off where I could to see the rafters on the Colorado River, but I wanted better access than the interstate rest areas. I'll have to do some research.

So, that was my first experience in Colorado. Just enough to make me want to go back. Yet another destination on my list of places to see.

P.S. Here it is, two years later, and I DID make it back. Not only to Glenwood Canyon, but I'm spending the whole summer here in Colorado. I found there is a wonderful hike/bike path that goes the complete 16.2-mile length of the canyon. I've provided a link to that beautiful jaunt at the bottom of this page.

Twin Lakes
Arkansas River Valley
Twin Lakes, on Colorado scenic byway, Highway 91
cattlemen round up the herd
Overlooking the Arkansas River Valley from above Highway 91
Cattlemen round up their herd off Highway 24, which runs north/south from Twin Lakes to the Interstate 70.
flock of sheep
the Leadville, Colorado and Southern excursion train
On Sundays, an extra 1/2 hour is tacked on to the Leadville, Colorado & Southern excursion train that travels in the mountains above Highway 91 to Bartlett Mountain.
Bartlett Mountain, north of Leadville, produces a mineral called molybdenum. One of the many uses of this product is to strengthen steel.
Bartlett Mountain
a Leadville church
a Leadville residential home
downtown Leadville
a Leadville residential home
the Tennessee Pass Cafe
Tennessee Pass Cafe
Turquoise Lake
Turquoise Lake

Above and Right: The Tennessee Pass Café was a perfect breakfast spot after a night of camping. They serve lunch and dinner, too, from salads and pizza to blackened salmon.

Below: Turquoise Lake, just outside Leadville

A ski lift in Vail
One of many ski lifts in Vail
Glenwood Canyon
Lakeview Campground - my spot
chipmunk at Lakeview Campground

Above: A resident chipmunk at the Lakeview Campground cautiously eats a snack.

Right: My cozy home for the night.

The Colorado River runs through Glenwood Canyon in western Colorado.
rafters on the Colorado River
waterwheel and waterfall at Idaho Springs, CO

This waterfall and waterwheel are in Idaho Springs, just west of Denver on the I-70. The waterfall runs into Clear Creek, and the waterwheel was built in 1893 by an old miner Charlie Tayler.

'Ol Charlie Tayler must have been a real hoot. It's said that he attributes his good health to the fact that he never kissed women and never took baths. Truth be told, if he never bathed, who is it that isn't kissing who???

The waterwheel was restored in 1985.

A view of Twins Lakes from the Lakeview Campground which is in the San Isabel National Forest

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a view of twin lakes from the lakeview campground

I will be spending most of the Summer of 2012 in Colorado and I've already posted a few pages. If you'd like to take a look-see click here. I'll be adding additional pages as I can.

Here is a link to the Glenwood Canyon Bike and Hike Path.