Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to travel extensively throughout the fantastic State of Colorado. Colorado, as we know, has some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. Added to that scenery is a wealth of really cool places.
Here’s a list of some of my favorite places and places I’d like to further explore.
With a population under 300, Creede is located in southwestern Colorado about 255 miles from Denver. There are several scenic routes to get there: along I-70, US 24, or US 285, or I-25 to reach US 160 and Colorado 149. Originally silver mining drew prospectors to the area in the headwaters of the Rio Grande River. Nowadays ranching and tourism are a large part of the economy. Things to do include enjoying the Creede Repertory Theatre, Runoff Runoff marathon, half marathon, or 6K run along the Rio Grande, or just taking in the crystal-clear mountain air. Oh, and be sure not to miss the 24nd Annual Creede Woodcarvers Rendezvous (July 11-17).
Lake City, Colorado
If you want to make a loop back to the Denver area from Creede, continue 50 miles north on Colorado 149 over Slumgullion Pass to Lake City, Colorado. Gold and silver mining raised the population to as many as 5,000 at the height of the boom. Today, there are about 400 residents. If you find yourself in this historic town, make sure you don't miss the terrific fishing, hiking, cycling, and walking ghost tours all summer, along with the wide array of art and music events.
Located at the northern terminus of the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, Silverton is one special place for its 629 residents. To get there -- about 325 miles southwest from Denver -- it can involve some hair-raising driving over mountain passes. From the north, Red Mountain Pass needs to be negotiated and from the south, Coal Bank Pass and Molas Pass. Silverton is a jeep touring mecca in the summer and there are plenty of lodging, dining, shopping, and other services available. At 9,340 feet elevation, Silverton celebrates its high elevation and history with rail-related events, barbershop singing, and even a run up 13,066 foot Kendall Mountain. Take your oxygen and have some fun.
About 147 miles from Denver, Westcliffe’s 565 residents wake to the sun rising over the Wet Mountains and end their days with the sun setting over the Sangre de Cristos. Their summertime events include the famous High Mountain Hay Fever Blue Grass Festival, rodeo, county fair, and a classic car show. Or you can hook up the Airsteam and head to the Airstream Rally . Self-described as a quaint little town, a visit to Westcliffe can be a one-day adventure or an extended getaway.
If you want to be in a rural western town, put Walden at the top of the list. Once you arrive you’ll realize that Walden is just far enough away from the glitz and glamor of Steamboat Springs, yet still reachable. At 164 miles from Denver, it is imperative to take the Poudre Canyon. Just over Cameron Pass, you can look southeast and see the spectacular Nokhu Crags outside of the northwest corner of Rocky Mountain National Park. As you get to Gould, Colorado farther west on Colorado 14, keep an eye out for moose near the road and be sure to stop at the Moose Visitors Center. Home to about 600 people, Walden is a ranching and recreational hotspot. Year-round opportunities abound for fishing, hunting, camping, and hiking. In the nearby Colorado State Forest, some hiking trails lead to backcountry yurts.
Whichever spot you choose, rest assured that if you go outside after dark, the skies will be a mass of stars unobstructed by ground lights from urban areas. So what are you waiting for? It's time to go explore!
Where is your next Colorado adventure?